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What you need to know for 01/19/2018

State Health Department contractor charged with stealing $87K

State Health Department contractor charged with stealing $87K

A Department of Health contractor has been charged with stealing more than $87,000 in public money t

A Department of Health contractor has been charged with stealing more than $87,000 in public money to pay for personal and office expenses.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the arrest of George Dunkel of Latham on Friday. The investigation into the case is still ongoing.

“Dunkel diverted more than $87,000 in public money meant to promote immunization of children across the state,” DiNapoli said in a news release. “Working with the attorney general, our joint investigation into this disgraceful conduct will continue and will ensure that any money taken illegally will be returned.”

Dunkel, 45, is executive director of the Delmar-based American Academy of Pediatrics of New York, District II. He was charged in Albany City Court with second-degree grand larceny and four counts of offering a first-degree false instrument for filing. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

The investigation by DiNapoli and Schneiderman found that Dunkel exaggerated expenses at the AAP by more than $87,000 and used that money to pay for hotel stays, continuing medical education credits, office supplies and fringe benefits for AAP employees.

He could not be reached for comment Friday. The person answering the phone at the local AAP office hung up on a reporter.

According to City Court documents, Dunkel used some of the funds toward hotel stays at Inn on the Lake in Canandaigua, near Rochester, and continuing medical education from the Westchester Academy of Medicine and the Dutchess County Medical Society.

AAP received a total of $1.5 million in state funding for immunization grant contracts during Dunkel’s time as executive director from 2006 through 2013. DiNapoli’s office denied a $133,860 contract extension for similar services through this June.

“Exploiting his position as head of the American Academy of Pediatrics in New York, Dunkel defrauded taxpayers and stole over $87,000 intended for children’s health,” Schneiderman said in the release. “This is an egregious abuse of public funds.”

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