PHARSALIA – On Wednesday State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced several charges against Pharsalia Town Supervisor Dennis Brown for allegedly stealing from the Town of Pharsalia.
Following a year-long audit Brown faces criminal charges for allegedly stealing more than $123,000 in town funds. He has been on the board of supervisors for 35 years. He is the longest serving member of the board. He sits on the county’s finance and public works committees.
Investigators say he used the town’s money to fund his personal lifestyle, pad his salary, and pay his bills.
“Since 2010, Mr. Brown allegedly cheated his neighbors out of over a hundred thousand dollars by using public funds for his pleasure and daily expenses,” DiNapoli said. “Taxpayers cannot tolerate the theft of public monies and deserve better from their public officials. I thank the State Police Special Investigations Unit in Binghamton for their diligent work and partnership on this case.”
Brown, 70, of South Plymouth, was charged with 2nd degree grand larceny, scheme to defraud, defrauding the government, corrupting the government and public corruption. Brown turned himself into the the New York State Police and was charged in Town of New Berlin Court.
The Pharsalia Town Board met for a regular meeting Wednesday night and Brown did not attend.
“This all got dumped on us really, I don’t think we have comment at this time,” said Board Member Darrin Smith. “Basically we got informed the same way you did. We knew there was an audit. We know as much about it as you do at his point,” he said, with all the present board members agreeing.
Board member Ernie Collier did not attend the meeting and was one of the only board members willing to speak about the issue. He said people should know what’s going on in the town. Collier has been on the board for 8 years and lived in the town more than 25.
“I’m in shock and really uncomfortable,” admitted Collier Wednesday, when first learning of the Brown’s arrest. He recognized the pending public scrutiny the board was likely to now face. “We’re all going to be standing there like idiots,” he said.
Collier contradicted his fellow board members and said auditors had previously shared some concerns.
“They tried to show me some information,” he said, adding, “They were there for about a year, they showed us statements. None of us really believed it.”
Collier said during the routine audit representatives of the comptroller’s office contacted board members and even came to his home. “She called me several times. Are you aware with this? Are you aware of that?”