Town probes possible misdeeds in its accounting offices

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Riverhead's accounting offices at "Town Hall West" on Pulaski Street.
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Riverhead's accounting offices at "Town Hall West" on Pulaski Street.

Riverhead Town attorneys are investigating possible misuse of computers and other equipment within the town’s accounting department offices on Pulaski Street, officials confirmed Monday.

Sources told the News-Review the probe concerns a town worker possibly using town equipment to run a private business, although no individuals were named to a News-Review reporter.

“The town is currently conducting an investigation in our accounting department into the possible misuses of town property,” Councilman George Gabrielsen said in a prepared statement issued in response to questions about the rumored probe.

“At this time I cannot release any details since this is an active investigation into a personnel matter, ” he said.

When later pushed by phone to clarify what he meant by “town property,” he pointed specifically to the town’s accounting offices on Pulaski Street.

“Misuse of everything in there, equipment, and use of the facility on town time,” he said.

“These are personnel issues,” Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said when asked of the investigation Monday.

Without giving specifics, he said Riverhead Town never had a policy regarding the use of town computers until February, when it was added to the Civil Service Employees Association contract. With no such a policy on the books before that, he said, it’s hard to say if action can be taken as a result of the probe.

Councilman Jim Wooten said he only heard “bits and pieces” regarding the use of town equipment for a private business, but said also that is just a preliminary investigation in its “infant stages.”

“I don’t think much is going of come of it,” Mr. Wooten said.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said she was told there would be a Weingarten hearing — which is required by state law when potentially enacting penalties against a civil servant — involving an accounting department employee.

She said that normally, only a representative from the town attorney’s office and the town personnel department represent the town in such hearings, and they make a recommendation to the Town Board.

Town Board members are not invited to the hearings, she said. “I have a big problem with that,” Ms. Giglio said. “We’re never given any of the facts. In the private sector, if one of my employees does something wrong, I want to talk to him about it.”

The Town Board authorized salaries for 12 finance employees in 2011.

Annual pay ranges from about $40,000 for an account clerk to $123,ooo for the department head.

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See complete coverage in the April 7 edition of the News-Review.

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