A former longtime city employee pleaded guilty in Saratoga County Court Tuesday to a felony grand larceny charge for stealing $44,867 from the sale of city trash bags.
Joy A. Karam, a former senior clerk with the city Department of Public Works, repaid in full the money that she took between 2002 and August 2008, according to authorities.
County Judge Jerry Scarano Jr. will sentence Karam on May 5. She could face a maximum sentence of between two and seven years in state prison.
District Attorney James A. Murphy III said his office insisted that Karam pay back all of the money she took from the city and that the felony grand larceny charge not be plea bargained down to a lesser charge.
“We would not engage in plea bargaining, as Ms. Karam was a public servant responsible for the safekeeping of public funds,” Murphy said on Tuesday.
He said she pleaded to the “highest charge that could have been brought against her,” which is third-degree grand larceny, a class D felony.
Karam’s attorney, Richard F. Mullaney of Saratoga Springs, presented the DA’s office with a full restitution check for $44,867. Murphy said the money has been transferred to the city of Saratoga Springs.
Karam was arrested on Sept. 25 after the public works commissioner noticed discrepancies between the amount of money received by the city finance department for the sale of trash bags at the city’s garbage transfer station and receipts for the trash bags.
Karam was responsible for reconciling the money received from the transfer station for the sale of garbage bags and filling out deposit information to submit to the city’s finance department along with the money collected for the bags.
The theft was discovered by city Public Works Commissioner Anthony Scirocco, according to Murphy.
Scirocco noticed that the cash receipts from the proceeds from the sale of trash bags increased significantly when Karam was not in the office or was on vacation, according to a statement from Murphy.
“One time in particular, another person counted the money and it was $125 short,” Murphy said.
“On Monday, they resumed their search for the $125 and Ms. Karam indicated she would handle it,” the statement said. “She indicated she had reconciled the amount. It was discovered later that she reduced the deposit slip so that it was $125 less.”
Scirocco asked the city Police Department to investigate the apparent thefts. Sgt. John T. Catone of the city police conducted the investigation, Murphy said.
Murphy praised the work of Karen A. Heggen, chief trial assistant district attorney, who prosecuted the case, as well as the work of Catone.
Murphy said sentencing in the case is up to the discretion of the judge “based upon a probation investigation, which will make a sentencing recommendation.”
Karam was fired from her city job last fall. The city has changed its protocols for handling the trash bag money since Karam’s arrest, Murphy said in a statement.