A.G. Schneiderman And I.G. Leahy Scott Announce Guilty Plea Of DEC Employee For Illegally Diverting Money From Contractor

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 9, 2016

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A.G. Schneiderman And I.G. Leahy Scott Announce Guilty Plea Of DEC Employee For Illegally Diverting Money From Contractor

Defendant Plead Guilty To Stealing More Than $60K Through Two Schemes Involving Work At New York State DEC; Will Pay $67K In Restitution

ALBANY—Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott today announced the guilty plea of David Comenale, a DEC employee, for diverting money from companies doing business with the state. At the time of the alleged crimes, Comenale was employed by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation as a project manager, primarily responsible for asbestos abatement projects.

Comenale, 50, of New York Mills, New York, was previously charged with two counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, in Oneida County Court. 

“When government employee exploits their position by taking advantage of a company doing business with the state, it is a flagrant abuse of power and contributes to an atmosphere of mistrust,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “We remain committed to rooting out government corruption and holding those responsible accountable.”

“This defendant used his State job to facilitate an elaborate series of financial frauds to enrich himself,” said Inspector General Leahy Scott. “I will continue using the resources of my office to pursue anyone who uses their public position for criminal self-entitlement.”

“We are glad to be able to bring this defendant to justice. He was involved in an intricate financial scam defrauding Adirondack Bank, a fraud brought to light when a former bank employee was caught creating false loans at the bank,” said District Attorney McNamara.

Comenale admitted to stealing over $35,000.00 in 2013 from Midlantic Environmental Inc., a New Hartford asbestos contractor doing business with DEC. According to the Attorney General’s Office indictment, Comenale convinced Midlantic to advance $62,500 to a company controlled by Comenale for a DEC project. He then allegedly stole $35,000, in part by diverting money to companies he controlled.

Comenale was also charged with stealing approximately $26,000 in a 2014 fraudulent loan scheme involving Adirondack Bank and a company with DEC contracts.

Comenale will be back in court November 28 for sentencing.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Christopher Baynes of the Public Integrity Bureau. The Public Integrity Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Daniel Cort and Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan.

The investigation was conducted by the Office of the New York State Inspector General with the assistance of Investigator David Buske and Deputy Chief Investigator Antoine J. Karam and Legal Analyst Sara Pogorzelski. Forensic auditing analysis was provided by Associate Forensic Auditor Jason W. Blair from the Forensic Audit Section, led by Chief Auditor Edward J. Keegan, Jr.  The Investigations Division is led by Chief Investigator Dominick Zarrella.

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