ALBANY- A mother and son admitted this week to bilking hundreds of thousands of dollars from an industry association, Albany County District Attorney's officials said.
Randi Smith, 53, of Amsterdam, and her son, Dakota Smith, 23, of Saratoga Springs each pleaded guilty this week to second-degree grand larceny, felonies.
Randi Smith served as chief fiscal operations manager for the New York State Weatherization Director's Association. She admitted to writing checks to herself and to cash that totaled $801,000 over seven years, prosecutors said. She then used fake invoices to cover up the scheme. She admitted to taking the money between 2011 and 2018. State police arrested her in May.
She is to be sentenced to 3 to 9 years in state prison.
Dakota Smith then admitted this week that he wrote checks to himself, his construction business and his father's business using the association's account. His checks totaled $353,200, prosecutors said. When the bank inquired about the unusual activity, he then provided forged contract, prosecutors said. Troopers also arrested him in May.
He is to receive 2 to 6 years in state prison, prosecutors said.
At the time of their arrests in May, authorities put the total taken at more than $400,000. Prosecutors provided updated figures Tuesday to $801,000 for Randi Smith and $353,200 for Dakota Smith. They will each be responsible for restitution. Some money from bank accounts was seized, prosecutors said.
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The association is based near Syracuse, but has an office in Guilderland. Randi Smith was accused of orchestrating the thefts from the Guilderland office.
In May, the full impact of the thefts to the organization that employs 11 was still being determined, association executive director Andy Stone told The Daily Gazette then.
"This is a devastating turn of events for us," Stone said then, "and we're going to our best to recover."
The scheme began to be uncovered just last week, according to papers filed in court in May, 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.