CHATHAM—Former Village of Chatham Treasurer Barbara Henry was arraigned Wednesday, March 17, on felony theft charges related to missing village funds.
Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka announced the arraignment in a press release from the DA’s office, which said that Chatham Town Justice James Borgia-Forster arraigned Ms. Henry, 59, of Chatham, Wednesday in Chatham Town Court on the following charges: first degree tampering with public records, a D felony; two counts of third degree grand larceny, a class D felony; and official misconduct, an A misdemeanor.
State Police charged Ms. Henry with pocketing $4,182.37 in stolen public funds between April 2017 and 2018 by falsely altering public records pertaining to health insurance premiums retained by the village. Ms. Henry also is accused of stealing more than $8,420 in funds by unauthorized use of the company credit card from Cadmus Lifesharing Association of Great Barrington, MA, between October 2014 and December 2020. Ms. Henry allegedly committed both crimes in Chatham.
Ms. Henry is represented by attorney Andrew Safranko.
Justice Borgia-Forster released her on her own recognizance with consent of the DA.
The DA stated in the release that this arraignment was the result of a two-year investigation that began shortly before the State Police executed Judge Jonathan Nichols’ search warrant on January 8, 2019.
DA Czajka said in the release that the arraignment of Ms. Henry is part of the same investigation that resulted in the conviction of former Village of Chatham Police Chief Peter Volkmann, who pleaded guilty February 11, 2021 to grand larceny and official misconduct. Mr. Volkmann took $18,607 from the Village of Chatham by falsifying mileage vouchers and other reimbursements. He also pleaded guilty to circumventing the state’s post-retirement income restrictions and cheating the state and local retirement system out of $74,222, according to a press release from State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s office. He will be sentenced on July 19.
In the summer of 2018, the Village Board announced that the state Comptroller’s Office had conducted a Risk Assessment Review due to a complaint to the Comptroller about the village bookkeeping from a then trustee. Ms. Henry resigned as Village Treasurer in July of 2018. She said at a public meeting after resigning that her departure was due to family obligations and commitments at her other job.
In January of 2019, State Police and agents of the state Department of Taxation and Finance and the state Comptroller’s Office seized documents and village computers from the clerk’s office in the Tracy Memorial Village Hall. They also searched and seized equipment from Ms. Henry’s home. The Village Board at that time had discovered that the village owed $47,561.90 in back state payroll taxes, though the funds were in village accounts. There were also back taxes owed to the IRS of about $52,000.
In January of 2019 when her house was being searched, Ms. Henry told the Columbia Paper that no one had asked her about the accounting issues, and said “It was a misunderstanding.”
Ms. Henry was hired as village administrator in 2012. She became the clerk/treasurer in 2014 and was appointed treasurer only in 2017.
Leaving the Chatham Town Court in the Tracy Memorial Village Hall Wednesday, Ms. Henry and her lawyer declined to comment on the case.
DA Czajka also declined further comment.
A conference on the case is scheduled for April 28.
(David Lee contributed to this story.)