Former Treasurer Of Putnam Engine & Hose Co. Of The Port Chester Volunteer Fire Department Pleads Guilty To Embezzling More Than $38,000

DOJ - Department of Justice
DOJ - Department of Justice
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Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York,  William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York State Comptroller,  and George P. Beach II, Superintendent of the New York State Police, announced today the arrest and guilty plea of ROBERT GERARDI, the former treasurer of the Putnam Engine & Hose Co. No. 2 (“Putnam Engine and Hose”), a unit of the Port Chester Volunteer Fire Department, for embezzlement of more than $38,000 from Putnam Engine and Hose.  GERARDI was arraigned on Monday in White Plains federal court and pled guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul E. Davison.  This case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Nelson S. Román.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  Robert Gerardi was entrusted to oversee the finances of a unit of a volunteer fire company.  Gerardi betrayed that trust and lined his own pockets with money meant to be used in furtherance of protecting life and property.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “Those who serve the public should be held to a higher standard of integrity and accountability.  Gerardi violated his most basic duty when he decided to use the funds entrusted to his care to cover his own financial losses.  The FBI and our state and local partners will continue to investigate and bring to justice public servants who abuse public trust.”

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said:  “Former treasurer Robert Gerardi allegedly fell for an online scam and stole nearly $40,000 to pay for it, violating his duty to the public and to his fellow firefighters.  This case illustrates the need for vigilant oversight of anyone in charge of public funds.  I thank U.S. Attorney Berman, the FBI, and the New York State Police for their partnership in this case.”

NYSP Superintendent George P. Beach II said:  “I want to commend our Troopers along with our state and federal partners for their outstanding work in this case. This investigation revealed that Robert Gerardi violated the public trust when he used his authority to steal funds that were meant to benefit the community.  We have zero tolerance for those who abuse their position for their own personal gain.”

According to the Information filed against GERARDI and statements made in related court filings and proceedings, including during the plea proceeding:

GERARDI was elected to the position of treasurer of Putnam Engine & Hose in or about October 2016.  GERARDI was given signatory authority over bank accounts held by Putnam Engine & Hose at that time.

From in or about November 2016 to in or about May 2017, GERARDI embezzled money from Putnam Engine & Hose by making withdrawals from its bank accounts and by charging personal expenses to its debit card.  GERARDI embezzled $38,236.99 from Putnam Engine & Hose through approximately 28 fraudulent transactions.  GERARDI told the president of Putnam Engine & Hose that the missing funds had been stolen from the bank accounts.

GERARDI, 62, of Port Chester, New York, pled guilty to one count of theft concerning a program receiving federal funds, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as the sentence will be determined by the court.  GERARDI is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Román on March 8, 2019.

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Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI, New York State Comptroller, and New York State Police.

This case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant United States Attorney James McMahon is in charge of the prosecution.