Assistant treasurer for County Water and Soil District guilty in theft

The assistant treasurer for the Chautauqua County Water and Soil District pleaded guilty today to stealing $4,100 in county funds, according to State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

Debra Kelley pocketed cash fees she collected from the public, instead of depositing them in the bank. DiNapoli’s office discovered the gap during an audit and investigation and partnered with Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson in the criminal investigation.

Kelley, 48, of Portland, resigned after 26 years of county employment and admitted to stealing the cash between 2012 and 2017. She agreed to pay back $4,100 in restitution and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor petit larceny.

“The trust put into Ms. Kelley by Chautauqua County residents was violated,” DiNapoli said. “Her actions and the consequences are a warning to others who violate their duty to the public. I thank Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson for working with us on this case.”

“It is through the continued efforts of our law enforcement partners in the State Comptroller’s Office coupled with grant funding through the Crimes Against Revenue grant that we are able to ensure that persons put in these positions of trust within our government are held accountable when they violate that trust,” District Attorney Swanson said. “I want to thank the State Comptroller’s Office for their efforts in bringing this case to my office for prosecution. We value our relationship with all our law enforcement partners.”

Since taking office in 2007, DiNapoli has committed to fighting public corruption and encourages the public to help fight fraud and abuse. New Yorkers can report allegations of fraud involving taxpayer money by calling the toll-free Fraud Hotline at 1-888-672-4555, by filing a complaint online at investigations@osc.state.ny.us, or by mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Investigations, 14th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236. Review prior cases at http://www.osc.state.ny.us/investigations/index.htm.