A.G. Schneiderman Announces Indictment Charging DEC Employee With Illegally Diverting Money From Contractor

Defendant Allegedly Stole More Than $60,000 Through Two Schemes Involving His Work At New York State DEC 

ALBANY—Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced today the unsealing of a two count indictment charging David Comenale, a DEC employee, with allegedly 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 charged with two counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, in Oneida County Court. 

“Government employees must not use their positions as trusted public servants to take advantage of companies,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “My office is committed to exposing corruption at all levels of government, so that companies can work closely with the state without fear of fraud.”

“This defendant used his position overseeing projects for the State to conjure a series of elaborate and complex financial frauds, ultimately enriching himself and violating the trust of the public he was supposed to be serving,” said Inspector General Leahy Scott. “I will relentlessly pursue anyone who uses their public position and authority for fraudulent self-entitlement.”

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

Comenale turned himself in to the New York State Police, and was arraigned on the indictment before County Court Judge Barry M. Donalty in Onieda County Court, and entered pleas of not guilty. 

The charges are accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.  If convicted, the defendant would face up to four to fourteen years in state prison.

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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