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Thursday, October 29, 2020

SUNY Empire facilities director busted in $31K school theft

This college honcho provided the wrong lesson for students.

The facilities director of SUNY Empire College was busted Friday for allegedly stealing more than $31,999 through 171 unauthorized purchases on a school credit card that included Seiko watches, a high end purifier, power tools, kitchen appliances, truck and jeep parts, a lawnmower, snow-blower, leaf-blower and ski gloves, authorities said.

Erik K. “Rick” Reimann, 51, of Saratoga Springs, was arrested and arraigned in Saratoga Springs City Court on 44 counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree (D Felony), 40 counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree (E Felony) and Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (D Felony).

“This individual abused his position and the public’s trust when he devised a ploy to purchase thousands of dollars’ worth of personal items with a state-issued credit card and then took steps to conceal his crime,” said state Inspector General Letizia Tagliafierro, whose office investigated the alleged fraud and theft.

“Our investigation found that he was able to continue his scheme unabated for so long due to absent supervision and lax controls. I applaud Empire State College’s leadership for identifying the systemic problem, quickly making necessary personnel changes and implementing important safeguards to keep this gross abuse of taxpayer dollars from happening again.”

The IG’s office also is looking into suspect spending within the sprawling City University of New York system.

Raimann was employed as SUNY Empire’s facilities director since 2010 and was fired in October of last year, sources said. He had been paid $106,529 a year.

Reimann’s massive alleged pilfering was discovered when new SUNY Chancellor James Malatras was president of Empire State College, the Saratoga Springs-based school that specializes in online courses.

Malatras, a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, took control of SUNY Empire in July 2019 and launched a full operational review “that uncovered evidence indicating misuse of public funds,” a spokesman for the college said.

“Mr. Reimann was suspended in August as an internal investigation was conducted, which led to the referral to the IG. He was terminated from his employment in October,” said SUNY Empire spokesman Kyle Adams.

The 171 unauthorized purchases from Reimann’s state-issued SUNY Empire credit card allegedly included:

  • $11,722.37 in Amazon purchases for electrical supplies, tools, camping supplies, grilling accessories, guitar amplifier parts, multiple Seiko watches, boat paint and parts, all-season tires and other auto accessories;
  • $3,610.70 in tools, electronic supplies, paint and more from FM Office Products;
  • $2,550 for an air purifier and filter from Camfil USA, Inc.;
  • $2,063.14 in kitchen appliances and other materials from Lowes;
  • $1,481.93 at Trak Equipment Rental and  $943.09 for a lawnmower, snowblower, leaf-blower and other engine parts from Partstree.com;
  • $837.39 for Jeep and truck parts from Rock Auto;
  • $680.74 in LED bulbs and fixtures;
  • $511.75 for a controller for pool and $109.99 for ski gloves from Flylow Sports, among many other purchases.

A number for Reimann was no longer in service.

Read More at NYPost

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