ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A former Prattsville Town Supervisor has pleaded guilty to wire fraud in connection with a grant in the wake of Hurricane Irene. The Department of Justice (DOJ) said Kory O’Hara, 45, pleaded guilty on Monday.
In August 2011, Hurricane Irene caused significant damage to Prattsville. Because of this, millions of dollars in rehabilitation grants were awarded to the town and its residents. As Town Supervisor, DOJ said O’Hara entered into various grant agreements, including with the New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation.
In pleading guilty, O’Hara admitted that between 2013 and 2015, he got false invoices from a modular home business, Moore’s Homes, claiming to show construction work performed on O’Hara’s automotive garage, O’Hara’s Service Station, which Moore’s Homes did not perform. O’Hara then wrote checks to pay Moore’s Homes for the alleged work, but Moore’s Homes returned all of the money.
DOJ said O’Hara then submitted the false invoices and checks to Prattsville and the New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation to fraudulently get $24,915 in grant proceeds under the New York Main Street Program.
“The New York Main Street Program was designed to make sure that grant money would be used to rebuild Prattsville in the wake of Hurricane Irene. As Town Supervisor, O’Hara knew the rules, but chose not to follow them. Instead, he took grant money fraudulently. We will continue to hold public officials accountable who, through fraud, put their own interests above those of their constituents,” said United States Attorney Carla Freedman.
“Kory O’Hara violated the trust of his community and his duty as Town Supervisor by stealing funds that were meant to help the town recover from Hurricane Irene. Thanks to my partnership with United States Attorney Carla Freedman and federal law enforcement and agencies, O’Hara has now been held accountable for his fraudulent, selfish actions,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
O’Hara faces up to 20 years in prison, a term of post-imprisonment supervised release of up to three years, and a maximum fine of $250,000. He will also be required to pay $24,915 in restitution.
O’Hara’s co-defendant, Stephen Baker, 71, of Prattsville, previously pled guilty to offering a false instrument for filing in Prattsville Town Court. The federal charges against him were dismissed.