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Post date: April 16 2015

A.G. Schneiderman And Comptroller DiNapoli Announce Sentencing For Rensselaer DPW Employees Who Stole Scrap Metal Proceeds

Ronald Foust and Jeffrey Clark Sentenced for Stealing At Least $46,000 From Rensselaer Department Of Public Works by Pocketing Money from Sale of Scrap Metal

Those Who Violate Public Trust by Stealing from Their Communities Will Be Brought to Justice

RENSSELAER – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced the sentencing of Ronald Foust and Jeffrey Clark, former employees of the City of Rensselaer Department of Public Works, for teaming with DPW Commissioner Thomas Capuano to divert $46,000 from the city by pocketing the cash from scrap metals acquired as part of their jobs with the city.

Foust pleaded guilty to Fourth Degree Grand Larceny and was sentenced to five years of probation. Clark pleaded guilty to Attempted Fourth Degree Grand Larceny. Each must repay one-third of what was stolen. The sentencing took place in Rensselaer County Court before Judge Andrew Ceresia.

“In an effort to combat public corruption and root out the misuse of taxpayer funds, my office has partnered with Comptroller DiNapoli to form Operation Integrity,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “These sentences echo our ongoing message that those who violate the public trust by stealing from their communities will be brought to justice.”

"Public resources do not exist for the profit of city employees," said State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. "These defendants conspired with their supervisor to steal scrap metal from the city taxpayers and line their pockets. This behavior will not be tolerated, and I will continue to partner with Attorney General Schneiderman to expose corruption and protect taxpayer resources at all levels of government ."

According to documents filed in court, surveillance videos from a local scrap yard showed Foust and Clark cashing in items discarded by city residents. Foust and Clark later implicated their supervisor Thomas Capuano, the Commissioner of the Rensselaer Department of Public Works, in the scheme.

The Sanitation Division within the City’s Department of Public Works collects the city’s metals, including refrigerators, stoves, and copper coil that city residents leave on their curbs for home pick-up. The Sanitation Division then takes collected items to Rensselaer Iron, a scrap yard in Rensselaer County where the city has an account. In exchange, Rensselaer Iron writes a check to the city for the value of the metal turned in.

Court documents indicate that Foust, who was the foreman of the sanitation crew, told investigators that at some point prior to 2010, he had the idea that rather than take both the bulk metal and scrap metal to Rensselaer Iron, he could separate the scrap metal from the bulk metal, and take the scrap metal to another scrap yard in Albany, Capitol Scrap, that paid out cash. In doing so, he could pocket some extra money without the bulk metal even appearing to have been stripped of its parts. Foust took this idea to his supervisor, Mr. Capuano, who approved of the idea and allowed him to use a city truck to make the trips during business hours. According to documents filed in court, Foust and Clark shared part of the proceeds with Mr. Capuano. This scheme involved at least $46,000 in theft from the city during the four- year period.

Capuano is due in court for sentencing May 21.

The Joint Task Force on Public Integrity is a cooperative effort between Attorney General Schneiderman's and Comptroller DiNapoli's offices to root out public corruption and maximize the resources of each office. Attorney General Schneiderman thanks the staff at Comptroller DiNapoli’s Office for their invaluable cooperation and assistance in this investigation.

Prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Christopher Baynes of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau, Former Assistant Attorneys General Rachel Doft and Colleen Glavin also worked on the case. The Public Integrity Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Daniel Cort and Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz. The Public Integrity Bureau is part of the Division of Criminal Justice led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan. The investigation was handled by Investigator Dennis Tomasone, with support from Deputy Chief Investigator Antoine Karam and Chief Investigator Dominick Zarrella of the Attorney General's Investigations Bureau.

The joint investigation was conducted with the Comptroller’s Division of Investigations.