June 11, 2015
By Stephanie West
Albany, NY – The chairman of the Wallkill Fire District’s Board of Fire Commissioners has been charged with stealing nearly $240,000 in a scam that spanned three years, according to authorities. Michael Denardo, 38, of Wallkill, is accused of conning a board member into signing blank checks which he later cashed for personal use.
“This fire district literally gave Mr. Denardo blank checks which he used to support his lifestyle instead of the taxpayers he was elected to serve,” Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said. “What this fire district needed was checks and balances, not blind faith in Mr. Denardo. Thanks to the hard work of my office and District Attorney [Holley] Carnright, this alleged swindler will be held accountable.”
The thefts allegedly began as early as 2010 and continued through 2013. Authorities say Denardo laundered the checks through his wife’s account, then pocketed the money. Denardo’s blank-check scheme reportedly began shortly after the Wallkill Fire District hired an architect to draft plans for a firehouse expansion. Denardo obtained blank, co-signed checks from a fellow board member for what he claimed were architect payments, then pocketed $228,871. When asked for proof, Denardo created fake bills. He also forged a travel agent invoice to inflate reimbursement for a trip to New Orleans and submitted $3,325 for other phony expenses.
Denardo, who is also a state correction officer, is expected to be charged with grand larceny in the second degree, falsifying business records in the first degree, money laundering in the second degree, and five counts of misdemeanor criminal tax fraud.