TROY, N.Y. - A Rensselaer County employee was found to have taken over $200,000 from the county over the course of six-years, according to an audit released Tuesday by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
The former county clerk in the health department, 30-year-old Brenda Kennedy of Lansingburgh, was first charged in July with grand larceny, falsifying business records and defrauding the government.
Kennedy, a 10-year employee of the county, was taking payments made for services such as immunizations, cancer screenings, evaluation and treatment services for children with special needs, and various recreational programs, for herself instead of turning it into the Department of Health. Discrepancies were noticed when Kennedy took some time off and someone else covered for her job.
The extent of her fraud, however, was not determined until county officials contacted DiNapoli's office requesting a full audit.
According to DiNapoli's findings, from January 2007 through May 2012, the county's public health department remitted more than 12,000 receipts totaling more than $6.5 million to the county bureau of finance for deposit. However, auditors found that Kennedy failed to remit 567 receipts totaling $111,582 for deposit. In addition, 365 receipts were recorded in the accounting records for $77,582 less than the actual amounts that were paid to the department.
Additionally, auditors identified 397 receipts totaling $19,433 from the county's nursing unit that were not remitted for deposit.
The County's Chief Fiscal Officer Michael Slawson says:
"Last summer our own internal investigation indicated that established procedures were not being followed by the County Health Department and that discrepancies existed involving how that Department accounted for cash they received. Upon notification of the situation the County Executive immediately informed law enforcement whose investigation led to the arrest of a County employee. The County Executive also requested that the State Comptroller's Office perform an audit of the County's Department of Health. The Comptroller's office honored that request and the resulting report has been presented to the District Attorney's Office for the pursuit of criminal charges and expected restitution. As the Comptroller's report indicates the County upon discovery of the theft took immediate steps to strengthen internal controls and procedures that the Comptroller's Office has deemed effective."
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