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On Thursday, Steuben County District Attorney, Brooks Baker, announced the arrest of the former Village of Addison Clerk/Treasurer and accused her of stealing more than $1.1 million in public funds over 19 years.
According to a news release held in Bath on Thursday, Nov 2, Ursula Stone, the former village clerk/treasurer and resident of Addison, was arrested following an investigation into an alleged 19-year scheme of taking money from the village for personal gain.
Police allege Stone used her position to take the money through numerous means by filing false documents to complete the thefts and prevent the discovery of such thefts.
Baker said during the news conference that Stone used a complicated and elaborate scheme to cover her work until it was discovered recently by the New York State Comptrollers Office.
Baker said that Stone has been charged on 192 counts, the most severe being grand larceny in the first degree, a class B felony for stealing more than $1 million. Baker added numerous money laundering charges, public corruption, corrupting the government, and around 170 counts of falsifying business records.
Nelson Sheingold, Counsel to the New York State Comptroller, said during the conference that Addison was in fiscal stress and operating on a shoestring budget, with taxes rising every year during the duration of the theft.
“Just to put this in a little proportion, and show you the magnitude of her theft, if you take the money she’s alleged to have stolen, it would have funded the village police department for over four years,” Sheingold said.
Sheingold said that the theft was able to happen through a complete failure of checks and balances on public officials in having only one person in charge of all financial situations.
“When a public official abuses their position, they don’t just steal money,” Sheingold said, “what they’re really doing is they’re betraying the faith of their communities and their neighbors and what they’re doing is robbing from the confidence that the public can have in their own government,” Sheingold Said. “There are lots and lots of rules that public officials need to know,” he said, “but there’s one easy one, there’s one crystal clear one, there’s one you shouldn’t require any education to know, that the public’s money is the public’s, it’s not yours to do what you want and use for your personal use,” he said.
When asked about the funds, Baker said that none of the money has been able to be located at this time. Baker said that if there is a conviction they would seek restitution to get the funds back.
Stone was arrested by New York State Police and was seen in front of a judge on the charges presented against her. Baker said that she entered a not-guilty plea and was taken to the Steuben County Jail on $20,000 cash bail.
BATH, N.Y. (WETM) — Steuben County District Attorney, Brooks Baker, is expected to address the media in a news conference at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 2, to discuss matters into an investigation of the Village of Addison’s finances.
This long-term investigation is said to have been conducted by the New York State Comptroller and the New York State Police into the village’s misuse of finances. The release said that this case is being considered by Baker as one of the largest public corruption cases to hit an upstate community in recent years.
This news release comes after the former Mayor of Addison, Eva Sue Cunningham, resigned after just 10 days in office back in April and stated the following in her resignation letter.
I do not possess the mental/physical energy nor the skillset to correct all of the problems created by the actions and/or inactions of previous administrations. – Eva Sue Cunningham, April 13, 2023.