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Greene County to return $214,000 in grant funds

Jan 11, 2011 6:25 am
There's yet another big problem at the Greene County Sheriff's office, which in the past decades have seen sheriff's caught driving drunk, as well as a years-long investigation into missing cocaine.

Now the Daily Mail reports this morning, January 11, that a $214,000 federal grant awarded in 2001 must be repaid by the Greene County Sheriff’s Office this month. Greene County Sheriff Greg Seeley made the announcement during the county legislature’s public safety committee meeting on Monday evening, January 10, noting that the sheriff’s office worked hard to preserve the funds awarded more than nine years ago but would still have to return them since they were never spent properly. “It should have been spent,” Seeley said of the funds awarded during the administration of former Sheriff Richard Hussey and never used for their original purpose: which was to purchase computers for patrol vehicles as part of a statewide initiative. The funds are now due back by January 15, this coming Saturday. Greene County legislators expressed dismay at the news, with most seeming to pass blame on their former sheriff.

Intended to purchase computer equipment for patrols, the grant would have redeployed 8.6 full-time equivalent workers.

The total funding amount was $214,088 in federal funds, with a required local cash match of $71,363. It was supposed to be utilized over a 12-month period between Sept. 1, 2001 through Aug. 31, 2002. There was a 90-day allowance after the end date before the grant expired.

In October 2002, the sheriff’s office requested an extension at no cost. No extension was requested after the new end date of Aug. 31, 2003 and the grant expired.

According to a letter from the federal Department of Justice, the sheriff’s office “drew down” $214,000 of the awarded $214,088 on March 2, 2006 after the grant had been expired.

A closeout report kit was sent to the sheriff’s office in August 2006 . In the report Hussey noted the equipment had not been purchased and there was no method in tracking the redeployment, according to DOJ.

Seeley had discovered the funding was sitting idly in the sheriff’s office budget and attempted to contact DOJ about the reimbursement process.

In a letter to DOJ, Seeley wrote that “the former sheriff chose to utilize only $6,000 of this tremendous award. Of the $214,088, $208,000 of the grant is in the sheriff’s office account with the county legislature.”

After a review of grant records and information provided by the sheriff’s office, DOJ requested that the unused funds — $214,000 — be returned.

Seeley said the funds would have been used to equip the office’s fleet of 12 vehicles with computers to allow efficient processing of reports. Four of the office’s vehicles are equipment with the computer system, Seeley said.

He said he would seek other funding options for the computer equipment.

Legislator Karen Deyo, R-Catskill, appeared frustrated over the loss of funding during committee.

“All the years I’ve been here, I never saw anything like this,” she said. “How can we prevent this from happening in the future?… We should have some kind of oversight so this never ever happens again.”

Greene County Legislature Chairman Wayne Speenburgh, R-Coxsackie, said it was an unfortunate loss but wanted to thank the efforts of Amanda Boomhower, local advisor to former U.S. Rep. Scott Murphy, D-Glens Falls.

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