Investigation into Albany County payroll misuse slows

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ALBANY COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Almost a month after an explosive audit revealed hundreds of thousands of Albany County tax dollars were misused in payroll, county leaders say their investigation hasn’t even started.

The new Albany County Comptroller, Susan Rizzo, says she’s had a hard time playing catch up without proper transition communication from her predecessor, Michael Conners.

“I can’t believe the items that I am trying to resolve,” Rizzo says to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton in a phone call Tuesday.

Conners left office dropping a bombshell in December — a 715 page audit that reported hundreds of thousands of tax dollars were misused by employees cheating the payroll system. However, in the five months Rizzo was in contact with the comptroller’s office before taking on the position, she says she never got what she needed to continue the investigation.

“As incoming comptroller, I was taken aback upon finding out that I was not given any of the audit files or supporting information during the transition period before I took office,” she says.

Conners responded to NEWS10 requests for comment saying he mailed copies of the 43 page audit summary, plus the interim audit report, to all county employees on December 24.

The audit alleges a review of 12.2 million payroll records revealed employees were getting paid for multiple positions — at times nearly doubling their paychecks — not clocking in properly, and using county hours and pay to work on County Executive Daniel McCoy’s re-election campaign.

Conners and his staff announced during their December 19 press conference intentions to post the full unredacted report on the Albany County Comptroller’s website. However, the majority of the web page’s content has now been removed to reflect the change in office holders. A quote from Rizzo says, “As I begin my first term of office, please be patient as we add to our webpage.”

Rizzo and Director of Communications Mary Rozak claim although the 43 page audit summary was sent out in December, the remaining hundreds of pages including exhibits weren’t released to them until Monday — 25 days later.

“This is not how I do business, but I think that now that we have the documents, I will continue the audit and pursue understanding what the recommendations are so that I can also review them with the legislators,” Rizzo says.

However in a phone call with NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton, Conners says Rizzo should have had access to all 715 pages that were digitally filed in the office before his departure.

NEWS10 also spoke to Rozak over the phone who says the Department of Law made repeated attempts to get copies of the full audit, which were unsuccessful until Monday. They’re now reviewing the findings before announcing any changes to the payroll system or legal action.

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