PUTNAM COUNTY, N.Y. -- Albert Melin, the former treasurer of the Patterson Fire Department, pleaded guilty Wednesday to embezzling more than $1 million from the department, according to Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Melin, 46, of Patterson, who served as treasurer beginning in 2013, pled guilty to wire fraud and false subscription to tax returns before Magistrate Judge Judith C. McCarthy in connection with his embezzlement of more than $1.1 million from the PFD, Bharara added.
"As he admitted today, Albert Melin betrayed the trust placed in him by the Patterson Fire Department, embezzling over a million dollars of fire department funds," Bharara said. "Melin took money that was supposed to be used for fighting fires and other department needs, and instead used it to keep his own private businesses afloat and pay his personal bills."
According to court documents and information provided by the U.S. Attorney's Office, from December 2013 to October 2015, Melin embezzled PFD funds under his control by writing checks to the two businesses he owned, 211 Medical, P.C. (“211 Medical”) and N.A.S. Management Co., Inc. (“N.A.S.”).
Melin then deposited the checks to bank accounts of the two businesses, in addition to charging expenses of the two companies to the fire department's debit card, Bharara said.
In all, Melin embezzled more than $1.1 million by writing more than 130 fraudulent checks, according to Bharara said. He used the money to support the businesses, make payments on his home mortgage loan, and to pay personal expenses, including the costs of family vacations, court records show.
He also failed to report the income on his personal tax return for 2014 and falsely reported some of the embezzled funds as revenue on the corporate tax return for 211 Medical in an effort to disguise its source.
"Thanks to our law enforcement partners at IRS-CI, FBI, the State Comptroller’s Office and the State Police, Melin’s betrayal was uncovered and his million-dollar embezzlement scheme put to an end," Bharara added.
Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said that his department's investigation into the Mahopac Fire Department wrongdoing prompted the Patterson fire commissioners to examine their own finances.
In that case, former Mahopac treasurer Michael Klein has been charged with stealing $5.7 million from the department over a period of more than 13 years.
"Former treasurer Albert Melin was so brash that he wrote $1.1 million in fire department checks to his chiropractic and another business to support his opulent lifestyle," he said. "Luckily, our $5.7 million investigation of nearby Mahopac Fire Department prompted the Patterson fire commissioners to examine their books and expose these thefts."
Melin faces up to 20 years in prison for each count he pleaded guilty to, said Bharara. He also will be required to forfeit $1,151,000 to the U.S. government, court documents show.
He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Nelson S. Roman on Feb. 3.
Assistant United States Attorney James McMahon is in charge of the prosecution.
“This arrest should serve as a reminder that those who choose to abuse their position will be held accountable for their actions," State Police Superintendent George Beach said. "This former treasurer took money from the fire department where he was a trusted leader, then used it for personal gain. I want to thank our partners for working to put this defendant behind bars, making sure he will no longer be able to take advantage of those who put their trust in him.”
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