Press-Republican

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May 16, 2014

Comptroller: Altona bookkeeper helped herself to cash

ALTONA — Former Town of Altona bookkeeper Danielle Peryea altered receipts and took cash totaling $23,500, according to an investigation by the State Comptroller’s Office.

“This individual controlled town finances with little oversight and had no difficulty in pocketing public money,” Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said in a press release.

Peryea, 34, whose title was secretary to the supervisor, also failed to deposit some checks, putting the town at risk of losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding.

“I should have been checking closer, and I wasn’t,” Town Supervisor Larry Ross told the Press-Republican on Thursday.

He said Peryea had made excuses, including computer problems, when he’d asked her about incomplete duties that included the annual financial report to the Comptroller’s Office.

The audit by that agency had revealed the misappropriation of funds and mishandling of the town books, Ross said.

“It was good that it happened before anything got out of hand.”

‘BORROWED THE MONEY’

Peryea was fired by the Town Council on May 30, 2013.

“In August 2013,” DiNapoli’s office said, “after learning of the comptroller’s audit, the former bookkeeper remitted the missing money to town officials but claimed it was a ‘donation’ to the town.” 

Later, the report said, she admitted to investigators that “between 2009 and 2013, she altered town receipts and took town money without permission.”

She signed a statement on Nov. 12, 2013, saying she had “changed receipts and borrowed money with the intent to pay it back,” the report said.

Peryea did not immediately return a call from the Press-Republican asking for comment. 

DiNapoli’s office sent its findings to Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie. 

The DA’s Office said Thursday that it can’t comment on a case when no arrest has been made.

‘ALTERED RECEIPTS’

DiNapoli said in the release that the audit revealed that town officials couldn’t account for all funds handled by Peryea and didn’t make sure they were deposited and properly recorded in the accounting records. 

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