A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN AND COMPTROLLER DiNAPOLI ANNOUNCE SENTENCING OF FORMER WEST GHENT VOLUNTEER FIRE COMPANY TREASURER WHO EMBEZZLED FUNDS TO BANKROLL PERSONAL BUSINESS
Gail Cesternino Sentenced To Jail, Ordered To Pay $58,000 In Restitution And $5,000 Fine For Using The Fire Company’s Money For Personal Use
Schneiderman: We Will Protect Volunteer Fire Company Funds So Firefighters Can Continue Bravely Protecting Our Communities
HUDSON - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the sentencing of Gail E. Cesternino, the former West Ghent Volunteer Fire Company treasurer, for embezzling fire company money to bankroll her personal business. Cesternino was sentenced to 30 days in jail followed by five years’ probation, and ordered to pay $58,000 in restitution and a $5,000 fine.
Cesternino, 46, was sentenced by the Honorable Richard M. Koweek following her guilty plea to Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (an E felony) in full satisfaction of the indictment.
“Volunteer firefighters bravely serve our communities – and it’s reprehensible that someone would pocket the very funds that enable them to do their lifesaving work,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “We will continue working to protect the funds of volunteer fire companies, so that in turn, firefighters may continue protecting our communities.”
Cesternino used her position as the Fire Company’s Treasurer to regularly withdraw cash, issue herself checks, and charge personal expenses on the Fire Company’s credit card, including purchases for her personal sales business.
"Ms. Cesternino stole fire company funds to bankroll her private cookware business," State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said. "After our auditors and investigators exposed the crime, she admitted her wrongdoing and will repay those funds."
This guilty plea is the result of a joint investigation conducted by the State Comptroller’s Division of Investigations and the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau. This case is the latest joint investigation under Attorney General Schneiderman and Comptroller DiNapoli’s Operation Integrity partnership, which to date has resulted in dozens of convictions and more than $11 million in restitution.
Assistant Attorney General Bridget Holohan Scally of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau is prosecuting this case, under the supervision of Public Integrity Bureau Chief Daniel Cort and Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz. This matter was investigated by the State Comptroller’s Division of Investigations, along with Mark Spencer of the Attorney General’s Investigators Bureau, which is led by Deputy Chief Antoine Karam and Chief Dominick Zarrella. Legal Analyst Sara Pogorzelski worked on the matter as well.