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Treasurer at center of state audit previously accused of stealing from employer

Copenhagen Fire Department
Copenhagen Fire Department(wwny)
Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 5:20 PM EST
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COPENHAGEN, New York (WWNY) - 7 News has learned the treasurer at the center of a scathing state audit of the Copenhagen Fire Department was accused last summer of stealing $27,000 from a Watertown law firm.

Nicole Bennett was arrested in July for allegedly stealing $27,000 from the Schwerzmann & Wise law firm where she worked as a bookkeeper.

Bennett was charged with third-degree grand larceny, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, and first-degree falsifying business records.

Her case is still pending in Jefferson County Court.

7 News, which has reason to believe she’s no longer fire department treasurer, was unable to reach her for comment.

It’s important to point out that the audit doesn’t say there’s missing money, but it does say the treasurer “did not perform accurate and timely bank reconciliations for all accounts.”

The state said it reviewed $110,000 worth of payments. Out of that, more than $27,000 “did not have adequate supporting documentation.”

When it came to collecting cash at fundraisers, the audit said the fire department’s board did not establish adequate controls to ensure that all money received was properly recorded and deposited. Auditors concluded, “When there is limited accountability for fundraising money, there is an increased risk that funds could be lost or stolen without detection.”

Copenhagen Mayor Mark Souva says he will possibly call an emergency meeting of the village board to discuss the audit, but declined further comment.

The Copenhagen Fire Department gets money to provide fire protection to parts of the towns of Champion and Denmark. Champion Supervisor Brian Peck and Denmark Supervisor Scott Doyle said they’re waiting to see how the village handles the audit’s findings.

7 News reached out to Copenhagen Fire Department President James Henry as well as Chief T.J. Williams. Our calls were not returned.

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