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Mom, son accused of embezzling more than $400K

Mom, son accused of embezzling more than $400K

Son was arrested before boarding flight to California
Mom, son accused of embezzling more than $400K
Randi Smith, left, and Dakota Smith
Photographer: New York State Police

GUILDERLAND - The chief fiscal operations manager of a small non-profit industry association worked with her son to bilk the assocation out of more than $400,000, state police said Friday.

Randi Smith, 53, of Amsterdam, is accused of taking the money with her son, Dakota Smith, 23, of Saratoga Springs, by either writing checks from the account of her employer, the New York State Weatherization Director's Association to herself or to her son's business, state police said.

She is accused of doing so from September through earlier this month. They were arrested this week, arraigned and ordered held.

The association is based near Syracuse, but has an office in Guilderland. Randi Smith is accused of orchestrating the thefts from the Guilderland office.

The full impact of the alleged thefts to the organization that employs 11 is still being determined, association executive director Andy Stone told The Daily Gazette Friday.

"This is a devastating turn of events for us," Stone said, "and we're going to our best to recover."

The scheme began to be uncovered just last week, according to papers filed in court, when the risk management division of Pioneer Savings Bank contacted Stone about fraudulent activity linked to checks from the association's account deposited in a Pioneer account.

Neither court paperwork, nor a state police press release indicated how the mother and son allegedly spent the money, or whether any was recovered.

State police, however, arrested Dakota Smith at the Albany Airport, shortly before he was to board a flight to California. They arrested his mother at the association's Guilderland office.

Founded in 1985, the association works to be the "'go-to' resource for information, technical training and best practices in the home performance industry," its website reads.

The suspicious checks flagged by Pioneer were handwritten and made out to a company called Adirondack Concrete Cutting. Stone then learned that the cutting company was owned by Dakota Smith and his connection to Randi Smith, according to Stone's statement filed in court.

When Stone contacted the association's own bank, he soon discovered the full extent of the loss. Checks handwritten to Randi Smith totaled nearly $73,000, while checks totaled to Adirondack Concrete topped $334,000, according to the statement.

When Pioneer got suspicious, they froze Adriondack's account and requested documentation or a contract relating to the checks. The bank was then supplied a fictitious contract with the company's stamp and an unrecognized signature, according to the statement.

Randi Smith faces one count each of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, first-degree falsifying business records and second-degree grand larceny, felonies.

Her son faces one count each of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument related to the allegedly forged contract, and second-degree criminal possession of stolen property related to money he allegedly received.

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