A.G. Schneiderman Announces Indictment & Arrest Of Former North Country Town Clerk For Stealing Public Money
Public Integrity Investigation Uncovers Former Cape Vincent Clerk Who Stole From Taxpayers
Schneiderman: Government Officials Who Rip Off Taxpayers Will Be Vigorously Prosecuted
WATERTOWN - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the indictment and arrest of Jeri Mason, the former Town Clerk, who is charged with stealing up to $50,000 from the Town of Cape Vincent. Arraigned in Jefferson County Court on a three count indictment before the Honorable Kim Martusewicz, Mason was charged with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, Defrauding the Government, and Official Misconduct.
"This individual breached the public trust by using her office as a personal bank account. Anyone who uses their position to steal from taxpayers for their own personal gain will be vigorously prosecuted by my office," Attorney General Schneiderman said. "Rooting out public corruption is a top priority for my office, and we are steadfastly committed to prosecuting government abuse wherever it exists."
According to the indictment, from April 2009 to September 2010, Jeri Mason engaged in a fraudulent scheme that involved falsely representing the amount of revenue the Town was collecting. Mason is alleged to have conducted this scheme while acting in her capacity as the Town Clerk, an elected position. More specifically, the indictment alleges that in her official capacity as Town Clerk, Mason falsified monthly reports that reflected the amount of money she collected for the Town. The indictment further alleges that the scheme resulted in Mason stealing more than three thousand dollars that should have been remitted to the Town.
The Attorney General's investigation began after being contacted by the New York State Police.
Mason faces two felony charges and one misdemeanor charge (Grand Larceny in the 3rd degree -- a Class D felony, Defrauding the Government -- a Class E felony, and Official Misconduct -- a Class A Misdemeanor). If convicted, Mason could be incarcerated for a maximum period of 2 and 1/3 to 7 years in state prison.
Today's action follows Attorney General Schneiderman's initiative, announced earlier this year, to appoint public integrity officers in the 13 regional offices in the state. The effort calls for a crackdown on public officials who use taxpayer funds for their own benefit. The regional public integrity officers provide a local "watch dog" for citizens to report corruption to. This initiative, coupled with the AG's recently announced partnership with the Office of the State Comptroller, provide the Attorney General with the authority to investigate and potentially prosecute any wrongdoing involving government spending, including member items, contracts, and pension fraud and contribute to his efforts to root out government waste, fraud and corruption.
"I strongly believe that those of us who believe in government as a force for good in people's lives must be the harshest critics of waste, fraud and abuse in the public sector. We must do everything in our power to hold wrongdoers accountable," Attorney General Schneiderman said. "I'd also like to thank the New York State Police for their assistance with the investigation."
This case was adjourned to October 14th before Judge Martusewicz. Ms. Mason is currently released on her own recognizance.
The charges against Mason are allegations. All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The case is being handled by Colleen M. Glavin, Assistant Attorney General in the Albany Office, under the supervision of Public Integrity Bureau Chief William E. Schaeffer and Deputy Chief Stacy Aronowitz. Investigator Scott Petucci under Supervising Investigator Antoine Karem assisted with the investigation of the case.
Anyone with additional information on this matter or any other public corruption is encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s office at 1-800-996-4630.