Town of Otto, NY - A town Clerk, who is also a tax collector in the Southern Tier, is now speaking out following a scathing audit report from the state comptroller's office. It lead to a criminal investigation against her.
2 On Your Side traveled to the town of Otto in Cattaraugus County to speak with that clerk, Betty Huber, to ask her about some very serious allegations.
The New York State Comptroller's report on the Town of Otto Town Clerk - Tax Collector is now the subject of a criminal investigation by the Cattaraugus County District Attorney and Sheriff's Office. It cites apparent misappropriation of town funds. Betty Huber who has served as the clerk - tax collector for 20 years says she's devastated and innocent.
Huber says "Never ever did I intentionally do anything that was not correct."
But the comptroller's office says its auditors found plenty wrong, especially with tax records in her office. Cole Hickland who is an Audit Director for the state comptroller's office says "They were backdated to be recorded as if they were paid before the penalty due date and the penalty associated with them was not deposited. We could see again checks substituted for cash and we could also see the collector herself made her payment late and did not pay a late payment fee."
Betty Huber responds as Channel 2's Ron Plants asks "Did you destroy any records or backdate any especially tax collections including some of your own ?
Huber: I did not backdate anything.
Reporter: Would that include your own tax collections ?
But there's more in the comptroller's report including the question of accounting for what auditors say is missing money.
Hickland says "We've got at least four thousand dollars that we know is missing. And for various reasons there's another 11 - thousand dollars that were questionable. But we weren't able to determine for sure if it was money missing or poor accounting or poor controls. In this case we thought that there was money missing, that the records were manipulated so we suggested that law enforcement get involved."
Plants again asked Huber "Have you done anything wrong and why are you making restitution - four thousand dollars in restitution if you haven't ?"
Huber responds "I explained that to you. I have not done anything wrong but this is what the state comptroller's audit said and just because I didn't want anybody to think I had done anything wrong. I'm just going to give that money back to the town."
Town Supervisor Ronald Wasmund and other town board members were also questioned in the audit about why they did not monitor the accounts of the office. They declined an on camera interview with 2 On Your Side but did say that an outside auditing firm has now been brought in to handle the matter.