Former Charlton Fire District treasurer admits to stealing $500K
BALLSTON SPA The former treasurer of the Charlton Fire District pleaded guilty Monday in Saratoga County Court to stealing nearly $500,000 from the nonprofit firefighting organization.
Virginia J. DeCapria, 52, of 773 Charlton Road, Charlton, pleaded guilty to felony second-degree grand larceny and fourth-degree criminal tax fraud, stemming from high-profile charges that she stole from the district for more than five years.
Saratoga County Court Judge Jerry J. Scarano is expected to sentence her to three to nine years in state prison when she is sentenced in May. She could have faced up to 15 years in convicted at trial.
DeCapria is accused of stealing $499,413 from the department between January 2005 and December 2010 while she was serving as secretary/treasurer of the Charlton Fire District No. 1. The criminal tax fraud charge stemmed from her having not paid taxes on the stolen money, District Attorney James A. Murphy III said.
The money was spent on a wide variety of items for her own use, authorities said.
“DeCapria stole taxpayer funds which were paid by residents of the fire district for fire protection, not for Mrs. DeCapria to buy iPods, laptops, plastic surgery, cigarettes, and Schwan’s frozen food delivery for herself and her family,” Murphy said.
DeCapria will get a concurrent state prison term of one to three years on the tax fraud conviction, Murphy said.
DeCapria, whose former husband was the fire chief at time, was able to take money for years without raising alarms in the small fire district. But in late 2010, fire commissioners became concerned about discrepancies and asked for a state audit.
After state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s office conducted an audit, state police arrested DeCapria in September 2011.
“New York State Comptroller’s Office did a tremendous job with their audit in carefully reviewing reams of checks, receipts and the like to conclude that DeCapria stole these funds from the Fire District that employed her,” said Assistant District Attorney Debra A. Kaelin, who prosecuted the case.
DeCapria’s indictment on several felony counts was announced in November 2011, with DiNapoli attending and faulting the fire district for lacking internal financial controls.
Commissioners said the district has since adopted new internal financial control systems.
Murphy said the plea came after a conference with the judge that was originally scheduled to exchange discovery material in anticipation of starting DeCapria’s trial in County Court next Monday.
Someone from the Charlton Fire District is expected to speak at the time of sentencing, Murphy said. The chairman of the fire commissioners could not immediately be reached for comment.
DeCapria, who remains free on bail, will be sentenced on May 6.