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CLIFTON PARK: Couple allegedly bilks fire company

A couple that was arrested in August for felony grand larceny have allegedly stolen more than $62,000 from the W.K. Mansfield Hose Company, according to state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

DiNapoli said that due to poor record keeping and very weak controls over financial transactions, more than $62,000 in Mansfield Hose Company funds were either lost or stolen between 2001 and 2007.

After conducting an internal audit in January, fire officials contacted the state Comptroller's Office and the State Police, resulting in the arrest of the company's treasurer, Lee Lussier.

Lussier and his wife, Dawn, were arrested in August for felony grand larceny, according to Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy III. Murphy added that police have determined the couple now free on bail allegedly used the stolen money for gambling.

After the August arrests, the comptroller's office agreed to audit the fire company to identify how much money was lost. The company serves the West Crescent Fire District and portions of the towns of Halfmoon and Clifton Park.

"Fire companies provide a vital service to the communities they serve. It is important that they make the most of public resources," said DiNapoli in a written statement. "It's imperative that officials watch every single dollar. In the case of W.K. Mansfield, I commend fire officials for their work in uncovering the theft and contacting the authorities. I am also pleased that my office was in a position to assist the company in identifying how much money was lost, and providing guidance on how to prevent this kind of thing from occurring again."

Auditors found that the company's treasurer had unlimited access to and control over company funds, and operated with virtually no oversight, enabling him to allegedly steal company moneys and conceal the theft. He reportedly took a great deal of the money by making checks out to "Cash."

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