Officials in the town of Walworth say they are ‘angered’ and ‘saddened’ after findings from a forensic audit were confirmed by the State Comptroller.
The outcome: $15,000 of taxpayer money disappeared during the fourth quarter of 2021 through apparent disbursements.
RochesterFirst.com reported the findings late-Friday, in which Walworth Town Supervisor Mike Donalty released a statement on behalf of the entire town board. In it, he said the Town would not seek to recover the funds.
@fingerlakes1 Over the weekend we learned that a small town in #UpstateNY will forget about $15,000 that was 'illegally disbursed' to a former town official, instead of seeking recovery of that money, because the current Town Board says it will effectively be too much work. This is local politics at work. Local officials instead released a statement saying this is an "expensive reminder" why it's important for taxpayers to elect people with quality character. #FingerLakes #FLX #CentralNewYork #CNY #News #NewsTok #LocalNews #LocalNewsMatters ♬ original sound – FingerLakes1.com
“We are angered and saddened that the trust of the citizens of Walworth has been abused,” Donalty said in that statement.
Shortly after the start of 2022, the Town Board discovered significant discrepancies in the Town of Walworth’s financials. Due to the complexity created by the general disorder left behind by the outgoing administration, a forensic accountant was retained to determine the exact nature and extent of the problem, according to the Supervisor’s statement.
That’s when the $15,000 of taxpayer money was found to be missing.
The current Town Board then referred the matter to the State Comptroller for additional investigation. They agreed with the forensic accountant’s assessment that money was indeed missing and to whom it was illegally disbursed, but declined to pursue.
“After much consideration and despite our outrage at the abuse of trust, this Board has also decided not to pursue the recovery,” Donalty continued. “The unfortunate reason is that the cost to the Town to recover the money would far outstrip the money owed, resulting in further financial damage to the Town.”
The statement did not identify the person or persons to have allegedly received those illegal disbursements.
“What happened is wrong,” Donalty added. “Our only solace is that this incident may yet serve as an expensive reminder why it is essential to elect people of character to public office.”
A little less than 2,400 people voted in the 2021 election for supervisor. The Town has a population of approximately 9,300. In 2019, the last time Wayne County Board of Elections released voting data to its website, total turnout was 29% in Walworth.