Attorney General Cuomo Announces Arrest Of A Former Delaware County Employee For Using Official Position To Steal Payments Intended For Child Support

ALBANY, NY (May, 5 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the arrest of a former Delaware County employee for using her official position to steal more than $50,000 from a fund containing court-ordered child support payments.

Karen Faulkner, 50, of Trout Creek, is charged with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (class C felony), which carries a maximum penalty of 5 to 15 years in prison, 57 counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (class E felony), which carries a maximum penalty of 1 1/3 to 4 years on each count, and Official Misconduct (class A misdemeanor), which carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail. Faulkner was arraigned before Delhi Town Justice Joseph Skovira and released on her own recognizance pending a future court appearance.

“This case involves allegations that a public employee put personal gain above professional ethics by lining her own pockets with tens of thousands of dollars from an account meant to hold court-ordered child support payments,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Thankfully, no child was deprived of this vital financial support because of her alleged actions. However the people of Delaware County and New York state deserve honest government officials acting within the law and in the best interest of taxpayers.”

According to the felony complaint, between October 2003 and October 2007, Faulkner was employed as a Support Investigator by the Delaware County Support Collection Unit (SCU). The SCU is responsible for receiving and processing court ordered child support from individuals who make payments, often in cash, directly to the SCU in Delhi. Faulkner’s responsibilities included accepting payments, issuing receipts, depositing money into a SCU-designated account at the Delaware National Bank of Delhi, and managing the related bookkeeping.

Large discrepancies in the amount of money collected at the Delhi office versus money deposited in the designated bank account were first noted during a New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) (formerly the Department of Social Services) audit in October 2007. Subsequently the Office of the State Comptroller performed its own audit and the case was ultimately referred to the Attorney General’s Office.

According to court records, a review of SCU records, including receipts of child support payments made at the Delhi office and relevant banking information, shows that approximately $53,000 was received by SCU but never deposited into the designated account. Furthermore, a comparison of SCU records and Faulkner’s personal accounts shows a running pattern of cash being received at her office, shortly thereafter a cash deposit being made into her personal account, and internal paperwork showing the money was deposited in the SCU account when in fact it was not.

Support Collection Units are partially funded by the federal government and administered by the states, and in turn the counties. The money Faulkner allegedly stole was taken from the county, which receives the payments and sends them to an OTDA administered account. Notwithstanding the defendant’s alleged theft of money, disbursements of child support payments were not affected.