It appears the New York State Comptroller’s report will result in legal action. According to Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright, his office will investigate…
It appears the New York State Comptroller’s report will result in legal action.
According to Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright, his office will investigate the findings of the report, which states that former town clerk Janet Jillson “diverted” over $92,000 in town funds.
“I expect Grand Jury action,” said Kortright. “I do not have any of the evidence, but I do have the report and I will probably be talking with the village police department in the next week to see where it can go.”
Kortright would contact the Whitehall Village Police Department because any crime that may have taken place would have done so at the town hall, which is located in the boundaries of the village.
Kortright added that he did not believe that the investigation would take a lot of time.
“I would think that it would not be a long thing,” he said.
Jillson Family attorney Tucker Stanclift said that he was not in a position to elaborate on what his client would have diverted the funds for.
“It’s pretty early in the process,” Stanclift said. “It took the office of the Comptroller almost a year to prepare that report, so it shows that there is a lot of research to do.”
Stanclift said that the lack of controls at the town level led to a situation where there were no defined rules over the remitting of funds to the proper accounts or a timetable as to when those funds needed to be deposited.
“You can’t expect someone to follow rules or policy that is unknown or unwritten,” said Stanclift. “The environment was such that it might be hard for some people to realize what is expected. There was no protocol in place as to when remissions were to be made. Clearly, there was no intent to deprive the public of any funds.”
The state report did blame the town for improper oversight of the town clerks position, and stated that the lack of control led to an environment where the clerk was able to divert funds.
Along with diverting funds, Jillson also repaid about two-thirds of the debt before the situation was brought to light.
“I think that diverting means that she moved, diverted for her own good,” said Kortright. “It is commendable that she paid back the money, but it’s not so commendable that she took it in the first place.”
Stanclift said that it is good to have the facts on the matter out.
“They have to go down this route, and it will, and ought to be, resolved in public,” he said. “What’s fair here is that when Janet was confronted with this, she made good. That shows the type of person that she is.”
Stanclift added that the report will help the town to move forward.
“It’s good for the public that this report was done so the town can come into the 21st Century in the way that they do the business of the town,” he said. “I do not want to be too hard on the town, though. The supervisor (Vernon Scribner) has been a supporter and I think that they do not believe that Janet set out to do wrong or harm the town and that there is a sense of remorse.”
Kortright said that there was a difference between previous cases involving clerks or secretaries diverting funds in the past and the Whitehall case because there were payments made back to the town.
“This is different than normal,” he said. “Usually you see the $93,000 gone without the $64,000 paid back in.”
Kortright said that he has been a part of a number of cases that are similar.
“We see these things through fire department, bowling leagues, a situation where a person took over $100,000 from the Meals on Wheels program and didn’t return it,” said Kortright. “We see it in business all of the time.”
Kortright said that these issues occur when there is too much trust placed in a single individual.
“I imagine that Janet is a pretty upstanding citizen other than this,” said Kortright. “People trust each other, and that happens in the business office and everywhere else.”