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Ex-Chief Admits Stealing $312K From Fire Department In Hudson Valley

Gerald Munson.
Gerald Munson. Photo Credit: Westchester County District Attorney's Office

A former fire department chief and police officer is facing up to 25 years behind bars after allegedly stealing more than $300,000 from the department in Northern Westchester.

Gerald Munson, who most recently served as the Croton-on-Hudson Fire Department Treasurer, has been arraigned on several charges related to the theft of $312,925 from the department on Wednesday morning in Croton-on-Hudson Village Court.

While acting as treasurer, Munson was tasked with maintaining the department’s bank account and financial records, despite having no prior qualifications or background in accounting or financial matters, according to Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino, Jr.

The felony complaint alleges that he used his position to steal and conceal his theft of the money from the fire department.

Scarpino said that the money Munson stole included portions of the “2 Percent Money” paid annually to the fire department by New York State in connection with the state’s 2 percent tax on fire insurance.

For several years, Munson concealed his ongoing theft by altering and manipulating the department’s bank records, Scarpino said. The alterations included the alleged underreporting of the “2 percent Money” received by the department to balance the books and benefit himself.

In February, members of the Croton-on-Hudson Fire Department’s Audit Committee discovered the misappropriations when Munson provided them with false 2017 bank statements.

When confronted, Scarpino said that Munson admitted he had created the false statements on a home computer, that he had stolen money from the department’s accounts for his own personal use and that he had used the department’s official debit card as if it was his own.

Further investigation and analysis conducted jointly by the Village of Croton-on Hudson Police Department, the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office and the New York State Comptroller’s Office confirmed that between on January 2011 and February 2018, Munson stole approximately $312,925 from the Fire Department. This joint investigation led to Munson’s arrest this week.

“When the allegations regarding the alleged misappropriation of Croton-on-Hudson Volunteer Fire Department funds by Gerald Munson were first brought to my attention, I immediately instructed our police department’s Detective Division to initiate an investigation into the allegations and to reach out to the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office Public Integrity Bureau as well as we the New York State Comptroller’s Office,” Croton-on-Hudson Police Chief Russel Harper said.

“Public corruption is a crime that hurts all of us,” Scarpino added. “We are proud of this collaboration between our Office, the Village of Croton-on Hudson Police Department and the New York State Comptroller’s Office to find the root cause of the misuse of public money and will continue the work needed to prosecute this case in the courts and see that justice is done.”

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