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DELMAR: State worker charged with fraud

A state employee who lives in Slingerlands is under investigation by the state Attorney General's office on charges of money laundering, grand larceny, and allegedly defrauding the government of more than $1.2 million over the course of nine years.

Search warrants have been executed, and a grand jury is expected to be convened soon to look into the charges against 49-year-old James L. Leggiero.

Investigators believe there is a direct link between a company Leggiero created called VIP Inc. (Very Important Property) and his $79,000-a-year position as auditor with the state Office of Mental Health, or OMH.

In sum, VIP appears to be a sham entity used by Leggiero to engage in an extensive fraudulent scheme, and Leggiero appears to have structured bank accounts and financial transactions to conceal his use and control of the more than $1.2 million in proceeds generated by this scheme, wrote senior investigator Michael Battisti in a sworn affidavit in Rensselaer County Court.

Leggiero worked as a principal auditor in the office of community budget and financial management for OMH and had been an employee with the state agency for more than 25 years.

The investigation began as a routine audit review of local assistance payments of OMH agency vouchers by the state Comptroller's Office. During the audit, multiple payments to VIP on behalf of OMH were uncovered. The vouch-ers also revealed that VIP had a post office box in East Greenbush as an address and no phone number. Investigators found that the post office box was opened by Leggiero, under his Slingerlands home address. The information prompted the officials from the Comptroller's Office to call in the Attorney General's office to investigate the VIP payments.

The investigation revealed Leggiero, in his capacity as OMH principal auditor, allegedly signed off on the VIP payments over a nine-year period from June 1998 to January 2007.

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