State looks to seize house from man accused in theft from halfway house
TROY The state Attorney General’s Office wants to seize the home of the man who allegedly stole more than $160,000 from the Rev. Peter Young’s addiction halfway house.
Eric T. Schneiderman has filed a civil forfeiture action in state Supreme Court in Rensselaer County, seeking proceeds from the Providence house owned by Dennis Bassat. A copy of the action was filed in the state Supreme Court in Saratoga County in January.
Bassat, 53, was charged in December with second-degree grand larceny, first-degree falsifying business records and second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument. The former chief operating officer for the taxpayer-funded halfway house — 820 River Street Inc. — is accused of stealing $161,386 by writing checks to nonexistent workers and cashing them himself, charging personal items to his company credit card and stealing checks that were written to the facility.
While the criminal case plays out in court, the attorney general’s complaint also seeks a court order forcing Bassat to forfeit his property at 143 Fayville Road as payment for the money he allegedly stole. He no longer lives there; he moved to Florida before he was arrested and put the house up for sale.
According to the Saratoga County property assessment database, the estimated full market value of the 1,352-square-foot, ranch-style house is more than $180,000. It sits on 5.18 acres.
The Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the state Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities conducted the investigation that led to Bassat’s arrest.
When he was charged, he was sent to the Rensselaer County jail without bail and Public Defender John Turi was assigned to represent him. Turi did not return calls Tuesday.
A recovering addict who credited Young with helping save his life, Bassat was chief operating officer for 820 River Street from 1996 until Feb. 28, 2011, responsible for the finances and managing employees, according to the filing. He had signatory authority on the organization’s checking account and is accused of making out checks to fictitious workers and cashing them the entire time he worked in that capacity. He allegedly did so with 246 checks totalling $141,196.
The alleged scheme also included Bassat filling out time sheets for the nonexistent workers, who he said did maintenance or repair work at the facility or traveled for business purposes and got mileage reimbursement.
Bassat or an unnamed accomplice then signed the fictitious people’s names to the checks and cashed them, authorities said. He allegedly shared some of the money with the accomplice.
In addition to the check-cashing scheme, Bassat also is accused of charging $10,949 in personal items to his corporate credit card and also intercepting and cashing checks that clients used to pay for their rent and treatment.
Those checks added up to $9,241.