recent blog, we discussed Partner Michael Varble's work involving a local scandal
in which former Town of Beekman comptroller Fred Knapp was accused of
stealing nearly $400,000 from public funds to pay off personal debts.
Attorney Varble – who also serves as Town Attorney for the Town
of Beekman – has shared his insight on the case with many media
sources and is currently involved in preparing a possible civil lawsuit
to recover taxpayer money Knapp allegedly stole.
As Knapp faces criminal charges, many are raising questions over whether
the fraud could have
been prevented. A recent investigation by the
Poughkeepsie Journalfound a number of warning signs that could have alerted Beekman officials
to Knapp's ongoing scheme. A few interesting warning signs the investigation
turned up include:
- After Knapp became comptroller in January 2010, independent audits from
2011 and 2012 found that the town's bank accounts were not being reconciled
on a monthly basis.
- Auditors also reported that separate records for accounts payable and receivable
were not being maintained.
- The Town of Beekman had gone seven years without having its finances reviewed
by state officials.
Although the Town officials have tightened check-signing policies –
as Knapp had been writing checks to pay off his own debts – there
are still concerns over who can be held responsible. As officials continue
to investigate, the Town may sue auditors for failing to detect the fraud
and Knapp for restitution.
Securing Justice on Behalf of Beekman
Attorney Varble shared his insight with the
Poughkeepsie Journal by detailing Knapp's scheme of writing checks from Beekman's checking
account to pay his American Express credit card debts. Varble also told the
Poughkeepsie Journal that the town has filed a notice of claim against the accounting firm that
audited Beekman's finances in 2011 and 2012, alerting them to the
possibility of a malpractice action. The firm performed audits during
the time Knapp was writing checks, but detected no illegal activity.
Attorney Varble is continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding
the fraud and whether it could have been prevented. He told the Journal
that he plans on filing a civil lawsuit against Knapp on behalf of Beekman
as soon as he receives bank records from the district attorney's office.
Attorney Varble is as committed to securing justice in this case as he
is for every client he represents at Michael R. Varble & Associates, P.C.