Fire dept. treasurer charged with embezzling millions

Michael Klein is accused of stealing more than $5 million over a span of 13 years

MAHOPAC, N.Y. — Former Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department treasurer Michael Klein was arrested Wednesday under charges of embezzling $5.7 million from the department.

Klein, 48, allegedly stole from the department for over 13 years to fund a luxurious lifestyle, including the purchase of a yacht, a Florida condominium and jewelry, reported The Journal News

“Public corruption victimizes the public generally, but, here, the people of Mahopac and its volunteer firefighters have suffered specifically and directly, having lost almost $6 million that could have been used for good, but instead was allegedly squandered away by Klein,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. 

Klein was charged with one count of wire fraud and six counts of submitting false tax returns from 2009 to 2014. He began working for the department in 2001. 

He appeared in court Wednesday and was released to his Florida home on a $500,000 bond.

Presiding U.S. Magistrate Judith McCarthy placed restrictions on any of property valued at more than $1,000 after Bharara noted that Klein sold his 55-foot yacht for $136,850. The yacht is now back on the market for $260,000.

“We have a victim here — the taxpayers of the town of Carmel. We need to get him under supervision to stop the dissipation of assets,” Assistant U.S. Attorney James McMahon said. 

A federal complaint unsealed in in U.S. District Court alleged that from 2002 to 2015, Klein embezzled department funds by writing more than 275 checks for more than $5.7 million to his two businesses. Klein listed these checks on the department’s book records as payments to vendors that sold firefighting equipment or services. 

Klein’s attorney said in a written statement that Klein went to the authorities on his own to start an investigation and has fully cooperated. 

The fire department’s spokesman Ed Scott said they became suspicious of Klein’s financial handlings in the summer of 2015. “The department is pleased the case is moving forward. We are hoping that justice does serve its true purpose.”

“While everyone is fallible, it is Mr. Klein who on his own accord went to the DA’s office and ultimately the U.S. Attorney’s office to initiate the investigation and continue his cooperation with law enforcement,” attorney Jeremy Saland said in a statement. “Mr. Klein has taken and will continue to take the steps as best he can to assist the same community he admirable served during his years as a firefighter to move forward while also addressing the accuracy of the charges pending against him.”

Please contact lawyer Jeremy Saland with Crotty and Saland Law Firm for more information on this case.

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