Former bookkeeper for K’hook, G’port charged with theft of over $300K
HUDSON–Pegeen Mulligan Moore, a former bookkeeper for the towns of Kinderhook and Greenport, was charged on a 20-count indictment for allegedly stealing more than $337,000 from those towns over a period of about three years.
The sealed indictment, containing 18 felony and 2 misdemeanor counts, was opened in Columbia County Court Wednesday morning, September 8 before County Judge Jonathan Nichols.
Ms. Moore, 40, of Valatie, who was handcuffed and wearing street clothes, pleaded not guilty on all counts. She was represented by Andrew Safranko of the O’Connell and Aronowitz law firm in Albany.
The indictment alleges that between December 7, 2006 and January 15, 2010, Ms. Moore stole the money “through a series of electronic fund transfers directly from the Town of Kinderhook’s bank accounts into her personal American Express credit card account,” according to a press release from Columbia County District Attorney Beth Cozzolino.
Appointed by former supervisor Doug McGivney, Ms. Moore was the town’s bookkeeper for five years from 2005 to 2010. She was also Mr. McGivney’s assistant.
Even after Mr. McGivney was defeated in the November 2009 election and Ms. Moore’s appointment ended December 31, 2009, she allegedly stole an additional $14,000 from Kinderhook during the first two weeks of January 2010.
“The investigation is continuing concerning the Town of Kinderhook’s finances pending a full audit of the town’s finances for the years in question. A large volume of records have been examined in connection with this investigation and a full financial audit is being conducted,” according to the DA’s press release.
Ms. Moore started working for the Town of Greenport as a bookkeeper in January of this year under Supervisor Edward Nabozny and continued to work there until July. During that time, she allegedly stole more than $50,000 from the town’s accounts by depositing town checks into her personal checking account, says the release.
Accountant Michael Bucci is conducting a complete forensic audit for both Kinderhook and Greenport.
On July 21 search warrants were issued by Greene County Judge Daniel Lalor and were executed at Ms. Moore’s home on Mountain View Drive, Valatie and at the Greenport Town Hall by State Police and the state Comptroller’s Office.
Current Kinderhook Supervisor Pat Grattan, who was in court for the arraignment, discovered irregularities in the town’s finances when he took office in January and called in the state comptroller to do an audit. Based on those findings, the comptroller’s office called the DA, who contacted the State Police to mount a criminal investigation.
During the search of the Moore house, blank checks from the Town of Greenport were uncovered, along with other financial records, leading investigators to the alleged crimes in Greenport, according to the DA.
Ms. Moore faces the following charges: two counts of second degree grand larceny, a class C felony; two counts of third degree grand larceny, a class D felony; two counts of computer trespass, a class E felony; one count of fourth degree grand larceny, a class E felony; one count of first degree falsifying business records, a class E felony; two counts of first degree tampering with public records, a class D felony; one count of second degree attempted forgery, a class E felony; seven counts of first degree falsifying business records, a class D felony; one count of obstruction of governmental administration, a misdemeanor; and one count of fifth degree criminal possession of stolen property, a misdemeanor.
When asked for her bail recommendation, DA Cozzolino told Judge Nichols that Ms. Moore presented “a great risk of flight” due to the potentially lengthy prison sentence she faces – up to 15 years consecutively- on the two class C felony counts, if convicted, and because she has earned 453,000 points on her American Express credit card, which would “enable her to flee at any time and travel a great distance.” DA Cozzolino asked that bail be set at $1 million and asked the judge to have Ms. Moore surrender both her passport and her enhanced driver’s license to the court.
Defense Attorney Safranko noted that Ms. Moore lives in the house in which she was raised, that her family is here and she has no intention of fleeing. He said he was unaware of the American Express card, but that he was sure there would be no problem making whatever arrangements were necessary to transfer or eliminate the points and presenting proof that had been carried out.
He said his client had appeared voluntarily, was cooperative and asked for a “reasonable” bail amount.
Judge Nichols agreed that Ms. Moore’s potential sentence exposure was high and ordered cash bail set at $150,000 or $300,000 bail bond.
He ordered the cancelation of her credit cards and proof of cancelation before she can be released, should she make bail.
He also warned her that should she fail to appear for pre-trial hearings on January 21 or for her trial start date of February 28, that he would issue a warrant for her arrest.
According to an officer at the County Jail, Ms. Moore was out on bail before noon Wednesday.