A former treasurer with a Westchester fire department has admitted to using thousands of federal dollars he oversaw for his own benefit.
Robert Gerardi, the ex-treasurer of the Putnam Engine and Hose company, a unit of the Port Chester Volunteer Fire Department, pleaded guilty on Friday to embezzling more than $38,000 from November 2016 through May 2017.
“Robert Gerardi was entrusted to oversee the finances of a unit of a volunteer fire company,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said. “Gerardi betrayed that trust and lined his own pockets with money meant to be used in furtherance of protecting life and property.”
Gerardi, a Port Chester resident, was elected to the position of treasurer of Putnam Engine and Hose in October 2016, at which point he was given control of the company’s bank accounts.
During his six-month scheme, Gerardi made multiple withdrawals from its bank accounts by charging personal expenses to the Putnam Engine and Hose debit card. In total, Gerardi embezzled $38,236.99 through 28 fraudulent transactions.
“Those who serve the public should be held to a higher standard of integrity and accountability. Gerardi violated his most basic duty when he decided to use the funds entrusted to his care to cover his own financial losses,” FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney, Jr. said in a statement. “The FBI and our state and local partners will continue to investigate and bring to justice public servants who abuse the public trust.”
Gerardi, 62, was arraigned on Monday in White Plains federal court and pleaded guilty to one count of theft concerning a program receiving federal funds on Friday. He will face up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced on March 8 next year.
“This investigation revealed that Robert Gerardi violated the public trust when he used his authority to steal funds that were meant to benefit the community,” New York State Police Superintendent George Beach II stated. “We have zero tolerance for those who abuse their position for their own personal gain.”
Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said that Gerardi was lured into an Internet romance scam, which in part led to his embezzlement.
“Former treasurer Robert Gerardi allegedly fell for an online scam and stole nearly $40,000 to pay for it, violating his duty to the public and to his fellow firefighters,” he noted. “This case illustrates the need for vigilant oversight of anyone in charge of public funds.”
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