Clifton Park

Ex-senior center director charged with theft dies

'It's just a sad ending to a sad story'

CLIFTON PARK — The former head of the Shenendehowa Adult Community Center, who was accused of stealing more than $50,000 from the facility, has died.

Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen confirmed that Sean P. Flaherty, 42 of Clifton Park, died in April.

Heggen would not comment on the cause of death but said that her office has a copy of the death certificate, which resulted in the termination of his case.

In March, Flaherty pleaded not guilty to a 12-count indictment from the DA’s office. He was facing one count of second-degree grand larceny.

He was also facing three counts of first-degree falsifying business records, four counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and four counts of fourth-degree criminal tax fraud.

His trial was set to begin July 16. He was arrested in 2017.

Heggen said she could not discuss the specifics of a closed case. She did note that once she received the death certificate, the case was automatically closed.

The $50,000 sum cited in the case is the threshold for the larceny charge filed against Flaherty. The actual amount of funds that went missing during Flaherty’s time as director could be as much as $140,000, according to court documents.

The funds were spent on unauthorized payments to hotels, an airline and a cruise line, according to court documents.

The charges came after a state police investigation prompted Shenendehowa Senior Citizens Inc., the entity that owned and operated the center, to abruptly transfer operation of the center to the town of Clifton Park in December 2016. The group had run the center since the late 1980s.

Flaherty was accused of taking the money between January 2013 and December 2016, using an ATM card and automatic payments to his personal account, police said. Flaherty served as executive director from about 2012 until he left on Dec. 14, 2016, according to court documents. 

The center has since been renamed the Clifton Park Senior Community Center. The new director, Sue Leonard, was hired almost a year ago and is a longtime town resident.

Clifton Park Town Supervisor Phil Barrett said that, once the town assumed control of the center, some members reached out to him about possible reparations from the case.

Though Heggen would not comment on whether her office was seeking repayment for center members who lost money due to the alleged theft, Barrett said Heggen visited the senior center during the legal proceedings in the fall of 2017 and answered questions from concerned center members.

Barrett said he had hoped to see the victims, which included some who had paid to go on a bus trip in 2016, get some of their money back. 

“These are very difficult situations,” he said. “With his death, the legal process hadn’t had a chance to pan out.”

Once the town took over the center, there were three full-time employees of the company, including Flaherty, who lost their jobs. The town retained one part-time employee, according to Barrett. 

Former senior center employees could not be reached for comment.

During the shift in center ownership, Barrett said, the main concern was making sure the center stayed open. The first six months of running the center were difficult, he said, and it took time to re-establish credibility.

Now, he said, the center is growing. The town has added programs to the center’s calendar, including frequent community dinners, and membership is up to 900, compared with 600 in 2016.

But, he added, the lack of an outcome in Flaherty’s case will be a difficult hurdle for everyone involved with the senior center to overcome.

“Certainly, we were looking forward to closure as much as anyone else,” Barrett said. “It’s just a sad ending to a sad story.”



Categories: News, Schenectady County

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