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Auburn native accused of embezzling $850K from volunteer fire department in CNY

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

A state comptroller’s report this week exposed George Parry Jr., 77, the longstanding treasurer of the Hannibal Fire Company, for having embezzled at least $850,000 from the department between 2016 and 2022. He was born in Auburn, New York.

Parry served the rural fire company as a volunteer for 60 years and had unchecked control over the department’s books and multimillion-dollar investments, enabling the theft. He even continued his activities after a new treasurer was elected in March 2022, the audit found.

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Parry’s tactics included writing himself 823 checks amounting to $451,537 over eight-and-a-half years and making hundreds of cash advances to himself using a secret department credit card, accumulating $400,000 in charges that he offset with the department’s general fund and investment accounts. After being confronted by fire department officials, Parry confessed to the misappropriation. As the department was in the process of retrieving years of financial records from Parry’s home, he took his own life on May 26, 2022.

The audit criticized the fire department for its total absence of financial oversight, a problem that has repeatedly plagued New York fire departments. In response to the scandal, the Hannibal Fire Company has implemented several layers of checks and balances for its finances and employed a new accounting firm to maintain computerized financial records and file annual IRS forms. The department also invites the public to participate in its financial monitoring processes to ensure transparency and restore trust. Despite the steps taken, the extent of Parry’s theft remains uncertain due to his control over the department’s funds for over 50 years.