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November 16, 2011 - 11:31pm

Corfu Fire District trustees vote to discipline three members for alleged misuse of credit cards

posted by Howard B. Owens in corfu, Corfu Fire Department, Corfu Fire District.

In a 3-0 vote Wednesday night, the Corfu Fire District Board of Trustees approved a resolution disciplining three people for alleged ethical violations and misappropriation of funds.

The vote came following a closed session in which the trustees met with members of an ethics review panel that looked into accusations that the district's treasurer, a former fire chief and a sitting trustee allegedly misused district credit cards and kept incomplete records.

The panel was appointed in September after a NYS comptroller's audit uncovered possible irregularities in the use and reporting of credit card transactions.

Based upon the findings of the ethics panel -- which reportedly uncovered possible further misappropriations not contained in the state's audit report -- the district's former treasurer, Shari Salim, was suspended from the district for two years; her brother, and former department chief Jeff Ammon, was suspended for one year, and their father, trustee Bob Ammon, was asked to resign from the district board.

The trio will also be asked to reimburse any funds due to the district, plus legal and accounting fees.

The district's recently retained attorney, Mark Boylan, of Le Roy, said after the meeting that the matter has also been turned over to the Genesee County Sheriff's Office for a possible criminal investigation. 

The resolution passed by the board also appoints a CPA to do a thorough audit of the district's books.

While the ethics panel's report indicates there was allegedly repeated personal use of the district credit cards by Shari and Jeff, it's unclear how much of that personal use was reimbursed to the district.  

One charge by Bob Ammon came under scrutiny. In 2007, Ammon reportedly made a $359.51 purchase at Dick's Sporting Goods. While listed in the report as a not approved purchase, Ammon reportedly told the ethics panel that the purchase was agreed to and paid for by the fire department. The purchase, he reportedly told the panel, was for exercise equipment for the fire hall.

The report states that while payments were made on the credit cards with other than district funds, some of those payments were late resulting in late charges on the district's cards.

There are also authorized purchases on the cards, allegedly, for which there are no receipts and no proof that the purchases were actually made.

The total of non-approved charges from 2004 to 2007 (the period reviewed by the panel, since the comptroller's office had looked at more recent dates) exceed $2,600, according to the report. Again, a substantial amount of that money appears to have been repaid with non-district funds, but the panel could not determine the exact amount that was repaid.

The district board, while it includes volunteers for the department, is elected by Corfu residents. The board collects taxes and manages some of the revenue used to help fund the fire department. The fire district and fire department are separate entities.

Only three members of the district board participated in the closed session because Bob Ammon recused himself and a fifth member was unable to attend because of health issues.

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