Attorney General Cuomo Announces Guilty Plea From Former Delaware County Social Services Worker For Using Official Position To Steal Payments Intended For Child Support

SYRACUSE, NY (July 20, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the guilty plea of a former Delaware County employee for using her official position to steal more than $53,000 from a fund containing court-ordered child support payments.

Karen Faulkner, 50, of Trout Creek, pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (class D felony) before Delhi Town Justice Joseph Skovira. The charge carries a maximum penalty of two and one-third to seven years in prison. As part of the plea agreement, Faulkner must pay full restitution and never again seek nor obtain employment with a government agency. Sentencing is scheduled for September 8.

Faulkner admitted in court today that she used her access to and control over court-ordered child support payments to take approximately 83 payments totaling more than $53,000 for her personal use.

“We have permanently ended the public employment of a government worker who was using her official position for personal gain at the expense of the people of Delaware County and New York State,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “The plea agreement ensures that taxpayers will be made whole through full restitution, and this admitted felon will never again hold a job with a government agency.”

According to court records, between 2003 and 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.

Attorney General Cuomo thanked the New York State Police for its assistance in the investigation.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Andrew Heffner of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Monica Stamm of the Public Integrity Bureau and Special Deputy Attorney General for Public Integrity Ellen Biben, with the assistance of Investigators Percy Corcoran and Dennis Churns, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Jonas Harris, and with the assistance of Investigator Terry L. Shultz, New York State Police, Major Crimes Unit, Sidney, NY.

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