After it was reported that Plattekill Councilman Larry Farrelly’s son Jay was paid $3,500 for work on an extension at the Police Station, in what was a volunteer project, Supervisor Joe Croce addressed the matter at the June 17th meeting.
“I believe the two vouchers that were made out to Jay Farrelly were paid out of police seizure money. This is controlled by the Chief of Police [Joe Ryan] and the Town Board has no say in how that money is spent; it’s a separate checking account in our system and there is no requirement for Town Board approval,” he said. “We do the vouchers for transparency so there is a record on how the money gets spent.”
Croce said his research shows that the two vouchers date back to 2016.
Croce acknowledged that the town has not appointed an Ethics Board, pointing out that this is not required, “however in reviewing our Town Code, under Article 11-7, in 1970 the Town Board at that time said that they hereby established a Board of Ethics consisting of three members and it was revised on February 3, 1999 to say five members, so I believe we should appoint a Board of Ethics.”
When asked by the Southern Ulster Times if the money that was paid to Jay Farrelly was for labor or supplies, Croce said, “I don’t have the answer for that. When the Police want to distribute funds from the police seizure account they notify us that they need a check and who it’s supposed to be made out for and we write out the check. I would like to also add that the expenditure of those funds is audited every year and we have not been told that they were spent in not the proper way.”
Croce said he also did not know if there are receipts for supplies, specifically for framing material for the extension project at the station.
“I have vouchers that are made out to Jay Farrelly, one on March 22, 2016 and a second check was made out on May 3, 2016,” he said, adding that these vouchers were not at the following Town Board meetings for board approval, which Croce has stated is not required.
Croce said he did not look to see if any other individuals were paid on the extension project because the two Farrelly vouchers were the only ones in question. Croce did confirm, however, that Jay Farrelly was issued a 1099 from the town for tax purposes.
Though Croce previously stated that he might seek advice from the Town Attorney on this matter, he said at the June 17th meeting, “that I had no advice from the attorney about any steps we should take going forward.”
Concerning the fact that Councilman Larry Farrelly signed one of the two vouchers to pay his son, Croce said he probably should not have done it, adding that Farrelly Sr. referred to it as a lapse of judgment. Farrelly made no comment on this point.
Police Chief Joe Ryan confirmed that the seizure money comes from, “assets that were forfeited from known drug criminals and is placed into a joint account with the URGENT Drug Task Force.”
Chief Ryan said this is then distributed by a formula to local departments and it is regulated on what it can be spent on and is audited by the Federal Government. He said his department has spent this money “accordingly within the legal justification.”
Ryan recalled the two checks that were paid to Jay Farrelly in 2016. He said at one point several police officers were not available to help Farrelly so he hired a few workers to help him, “and that money was spent on that.”