Klein of Fire

Ex-Mahopac FD treasurer accused of embezzling millions, but Department insists residents need not worry.

UPDATE (March 7, 2017): Today, Klein pled guilty to wire fraud, subscription to false tax returns, obstruction of the grand jury, and false statement charges, according to Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “Michael Klein admitted today what we alleged – for over a decade, he violated the trust of his fellow volunteer fire fighters and used the Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department funds as his own slush fund,” Bharara said in a statement. “Klein took advantage of his position as the fire department’s treasurer and spent department money on himself, including paying for a yacht, a Florida home, jewelry, and an antique fire truck.”  In accordance with his admittance, Klein has agreed to forfeit a monetary sum of $5,675,360.49, a residence in Palm City, Florida, equity in a Palm City yacht club, cash in various bank accounts, a 1931 American LaFrance antique fire engine, proceeds of a life insurance policy, a 2000 13′ Nautica vessel with an outboard motor, and a 2005 Eliminator trailer. He will be sentenced on June 21, 2017 by Judge Cathy Seibel.

The United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York, announced that 48-year-old Michael Klein of Mahopac, has been arrested on charges of wire fraud and subscribing to false tax returns. Klein stands accused of misappropriating millions—$5.7 million, to be precise—between January 2002 and September 2015 during his tenure as Treasurer of Mahopac’s Volunteer Fire Department (MFVD).

In a statement, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara alleged that the Hudson Valley resident embezzled MVFD funds by making more than 275 checks out to his two private businesses, Abbie Graphic Services Ltd. and Buckshollow Emergency Equipment Corp., while entering them into MVFD books as having been made payable to fire-department equipment-and-services vendors. And in case you were wondering what one does with all that unlawfully accrued cash, Klein reputedly squandered it on lavish items like a 55-foot motor yacht, jewelry, and a second residence in Florida, in addition to pouring capital into Abbie and Buckshollow. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Klein failed to report any of this income on his personal tax returns between 2009-’14. “Mr. Klein stole a lot of money,” acknowledged MVFD Commissioner Charles Lewis when reached for comment. “He was good at what he did, and at hiding the money.”

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Still, members of the community would be right in wondering whether the Department remains vulnerable to this kind of corruption, to which Lewis assures, “We have implemented a new system of checks and balances that will protect the people.”

While Lewis didn’t elaborate, New York State Trooper Melissa McMorris confirms for Hudson Valley that, “If a business has a good system where more than one person is checking the accounts, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.”

At present, it’s Klein who should be concerned, as the cumulative seven counts against him (one for wire fraud and six for false tax returns) could carry a maximum prison sentence of 28 years.

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