Former Superintendent Pleads Guilty To Forgery And False Filing

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that the former superintendent of a public school district in Syracuse has pleaded guilty to two criminal counts stemming from false representations he made to the State Teachers' Retirement System regarding the calculation of his pension.

On February 1, Mark DeSanctis pled guilty in Colonie Town Court to two charges: Forgery in the Third Degree, and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the Second Degree, both class A misdemeanors. At the time of the plea, DeSanctis agreed to surrender his teaching certificate to the state Department of Education. The court sentenced him to a conditional discharge, a non-custodial sentence.

DeSanctis served as the Superintendent of the Westhill Central School District from July 1, 1992 to June 30, 2002, when he retired. In order to calculate DeSanctis' pension, the teachers' retirement system sought an explanation from the school district for a 20.8 percent salary increase that DeSanctis received in the 1999-2000 school year.

The felony complaint alleges that on January 13, 2004, DeSanctis sent a letter to the teachers' retirement system, purportedly from the Westhill School District's business administrator. DeSanctis signed the business administrator's name to the letter without her authorization. In the letter, DeSanctis falsely stated that the Westhill School District's Board of Education met with the business administrator on January 12, 2004 and concluded that the 20.8 percent salary increase was a reward for specific achievements during the previous school year. That meeting never took place.

The case was referred to the Attorney General's Office by the Office of the State Comptroller. The Attorney General thanked the Westhill Central School District for reporting the matter to his office and for its cooperation in the investigation. The Attorney General also thanked the state Teachers Retirement System for its assistance in the investigation.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Monica Stamm and Nancy Snyder under the supervision of Carrie Cohen, Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Public Integrity Unit and Viola Abbitt, Deputy Bureau Chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau. They were assisted by Investigators Phillip Marmelstein and Mark Spencer.