Town sues accountant who missed inside thief

KINDERHOOK — The Town Board voted in a closed-door executive session Wednesday, October 19, to formally proceed with litigation against certified public accountant Leonard Vona. The town has hired Albany-based law firm Tabner, Ryan and Keniry, LLP for the suit against Mr. Vona, who failed to detect major fraud by the town’s former bookkeeper.

Earlier this year, former town bookkeeper Pegeen Mulligan-Moore was sentenced to three to nine years in prison for stealing nearly half a million dollars from the Towns of Kinderhook and Greenport over a five-year period. Mr. Vona had reviewed Ms. Mulligan-Moore’s work in late 2008 and verbally reported back to the board that all was in order and there was nothing suspicious going on with the town’s books in 2007 and 2008.

Upon his recommendation, the town obtained its own credit card, which Ms. Mulligan-Moore later used to commit more fraud.

Also, in the executive session, the board voted to forward a proposal to Ichabod Crane Central School Interim Superintendent Lee Bordick to take over the empty Martin H. Glynn School in Valatie and use the vacant school building for town offices and meeting space. The proposal offers to pay the ICC school district for utility charges incurred by the town.

Earlier, in the public portion of the board meeting, the board voted unanimously to close State Farm Road the morning of December 24, 2011 at the request of the Ichabod Crane Football Committee. Committee members said they plan host a 5K race on Christmas Eve morning to raise money for the privately-funded football program.

Committee member Vicki Groat said she hopes “Santa’s Football Fun Run” will help “push us over our fundraising goal and ensure a little cushion, so there will be a little room to breathe” in the program’s budget next year.

The football committee has raised enough money to fund this year’s program and Ms. Groat said the committee has collected about $24,000 towards the $34,000 it needs by April 1, 2012.

Ms. Groat says the football committee would like to make the 5K race an annual event.

“We hope we can reach the level of participation similar to the Turkey Trot and Sean’s Run,” Ms. Groat said. Those two races are held annually in Chatham.

In other business, the board:

*Voted four to one to reimburse the not-for-profit organization “Friends of Kinderhook Dog Park” for $2,500 in actual expenses incurred for maintaining the dog park lawn. The town so far has collected approximately $2,700 from dog park permit sales. Town Supervisor Pat Grattan was the dissenting vote.

*Voted unanimously to appoint resident Dan Weiller as an alternate member of the town Planning Board, to serve out the unexpired term of a former alternate member.

*Voted unanimously to declare Sunday, November 6, 2011, “Archie Williams Day” in honor of the recently retired Kinderhook Town Justice. Judge Williams will be recognized for his long-time service to the community in a ceremony at Winding Brook Country Club on November 6 at 2 p.m.

*Heard a committee report from Town Assessor Tom Griffin. Mr. Griffin announced that senior citizens who qualify for the income-based exemption from town property taxes may stop by the assessor’s office starting November 1 to prove their income. Those senior citizens can use their 2010 Federal Income Tax filing for the 2011 property tax exemption.

The Assessor’s office is sending instruction letters to 238 seniors.

*Announced the town is currently accepting resumes for two openings on the Board of Assessment Review.

*Announced another neighborhood watch meeting at Town Hall Thursday, October 27 at 6:30 p.m. Councilwoman Patsy Leader said a representative from the Sheriff’s Office will attend and report on a recent meeting with school officials. Representatives from the state police and the Columbia County District Attorney’s Office will also attend the meeting.

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