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Former Bombay Fire Department treasurer charged with embezzling nearly $70K

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BOMBAY - The former president and treasurer of the Bombay Fire Department has been charged with the embezzleng more than $67,000 from the volunteer organization between 2004 and 2010.

During that time, she held the positions of president, treasurer and both posts at one point.

Malone-based state police charged Bridget L. Martin, 38, of Moira with third-degree grand larceny, second-degree forgery, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and third-degree forgery.She was arraigned in Malone Town Court and released under the supervision of the probation department. She is to appear in Bombay Town Court in March 27.

According to an audit of the fire company issued by the New York State Comptroller’s Office, Ms. Martin did so by writing checks to cash, writing checks out to vendors and then cashing them herself, or taking cash. Some of the allegedly embezzled cash was proceeds of fundraising events.

“There is no evidence that the revenues generated by various fundraising events were ever deposited in the company accounts,” the audit stated.

In addition to the alleged embezzlement of funds, the audit alleged Ms. Martin signed out a $10,000 line of credit for “working capital” and used all Bombay Fire Company assets as collateral using forged signatures. It says the resolution was approved by a resolution passed by the fire company’s executive board.

“We [NYS Comptroller’s Office] interviewed the secretary and she indicated it was not her signature that appeared on the resolution,” the audit states. “When we showed the loan documents to the secretary and treasurer, both indicated that they had signed them but were told by [Martin] it was to open a new bank account and they were not aware it was a line of credit.”

As of Dec. 31, 2010, the line of credit had an $8,197 unpaid balance. Had it gone into default, all fire company assets would have been forfeited to the bank and the Bombay Fire Department would not be able to operate.

Furthermore, Ms. Martin allegedly borrowed an additional $7,000 through a 90-day-promissary note, according to the audit. The only reason it was repaid was the bank automatically withdrew $7,000 from a fire company bank account, plus a $100 late fee, on Feb. 26, 2010.

The audit criticized the Bombay Fire Company for having weak internal controls and virtually no oversight with regard to incoming and outgoing monies.

“Fiscal oversight should never be based on blind trust,” State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a press release. “This was a clear case of a failure to properly protect fire company funds.”

One example the audit revealed is that while Ms. Martin was president/treasurer it was common practice for her to write and sign checks without any supporting documentation or any explanation other than the checks were “to pay bills.”

“[Martin] received all bank statements and kept all the accounting records so that while [former treasurers] served... under her, they never had the records they needed to perform the treasurer’s duties,” the audit states.

The release states that Bombay Fire Company officials are taking steps to tighten oversight and are attempting to recover lost funds.

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