SULLIVAN — State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and the New York State Police announced on July 14 that Debra Gabriel, the Town of Bethel tax collector, was arrested for allegedly stealing …
SULLIVAN — State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and the New York State Police announced on July 14 that Debra Gabriel, the Town of Bethel tax collector, was arrested for allegedly stealing unearned benefits from the state pension fund.
Gabriel faces charges of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, Corrupting the Government in the Third Degree, Defrauding the Retirement System and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree.
Gabriel, who resigned her public office and retired last year, is alleged to have submitted a false Record of Activities (ROAs) with the town for filing with the State Comptroller. ROAs are documents in which certain officials must record their work hours to determine if they are full-time or part-time. The information is used to calculate their service time for retirement benefits.
DiNapoli said that an investigation of Gabriel’s ROAs revealed that from April 1, 2009 to August 31, 2019, she falsely claimed credit for full-time work for the town when her actual hours were far less.
It is alleged that Gabriel’s monthly benefit was falsely inflated by $290 each month from the time of her retirement on August 31, 2019 to June 30, 2021 and she was paid $6,300 to which she was not entitled.
“Gabriel allegedly defrauded the retirement system by lying about the hours she worked. Now she must face the consequences of her actions,” DiNapoli said. “I am committed to protecting our state pension system, its members and taxpayers from fraud and abuse. My thanks to the New York State Police and Sullivan County DA Meagan Galligan for helping bring Gabriel to justice.”
State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen said, “This arrest demonstrates the hard work of our law enforcement partners focused on the same goal: holding those who break our laws, accountable. The victims in this case are the people of New York who put their trust in this former town employee. I commend and thank our partners at the State Comptroller’s Office and Sullivan County District Attorney’s Office for their commitment to investigating those who prey on the unsuspecting public for their own gain.”
Gabriel referred any questions to her attorney, Jared Hart, who declined to comment on the case at the present time.
When reached for comment on Monday, Town of Bethel Supervisor Daniel Sturm said, “Everyone is innocent until proven guilty and deserves their day in court. I would like to acknowledge and thank the New York State Comptroller, the State Police and the Sullivan County District Attorney for taking action to protect our taxpayers, especially for those in the New York State retirement system. We did provide cooperation and assistance when requested to do so in this matter. We will continue to cooperate when required.”