GLOVERSVILLE – The state police looked into a complaint involving the mayor and an invalid landfill permit in May, authorities said, but the investigation is closed and the complaint deemed unsubstantiated.
State police Capt. Tim Munro said it was alleged the father-in-law of Mayor Dayton King, Michael Insognia, went to the City Clerk’s Office to have a 2012 dump sticker renewed for the 2013 year on April 5.
Munro said when the clerk checked the sticker with the 2012 records it was determined the permit was not valid.
Munro said the incident was closed by investigation June 5 because it was determined there wasn’t probable cause to warrant an arrest.
Asked to comment on the situation, city Police Chief Donald VanDeusen said a complaint was brought to his attention during a Common Council executive session in April alleging a dump sticker, valued at $50, was missing from the City Clerk’s Office.
VanDeusen said the City Clerk notified members of the council about the issue, and then the entire council brought it to his attention.
VanDeusen said according to the allegation, it was apparent the suspect being indicated was Mayor Dayton King.
VanDeusen said he felt it would be a conflict of interest for the city police department to investigate King.
“I wanted to remove all thoughts of impropriety regardless of the outcome of the investigation,” VanDeusen said.
VanDeusen said he recommended the investigation be turned over to the state police. The Common Council agreed, resulting in it being officially turned over in May.
VanDeusen said he was recently notified the case has been closed and the complaint deemed unsubstantiated.
King said his father-in-law went to the clerk’s office this year to get another dump permit and has had one for the last few years.
When Insognia went there, King said, he was told he wasn’t in the system for having one last year although Insognia said he bought one.
When the clerks told him he wasn’t in their system, King said, his father-in-law went to his truck and pulled the permit off and gave it to the City Clerk. The dump permit has the same handwriting as the one he was given previously, King said.
King said Insognia called him up immediately after leaving the clerk’s office and wanted to know, “Who’s pocketing the money from the dump permits?”
King said he went into the Finance Commissioner Bruce Van Genderen’s office and asked how this could have happened and if the permits come through him or there is accounting that takes place for the permits. King said the commissioner told him the permits do not come through his office and he should see the clerk.
King said he and Van Genderen asked the City Clerk Susan Semione why it took so long to learn the permit was missing or not accounted for, and if there’s a system in place so when the city sells a dump permit it will then notify the county waste station to confirm the valid permit.
King said she stated she knew the permit was missing, but thought it may have just been stuck to another one, so she never brought it to anyone’s attention.
King said the city now has a better system in place, including locking up the permits and notifying the county when one has been sold.
The mayor said the investigator for the State Police in Mayfield interviewed him and his father-in-law, and other employees in City Hall.
King said at that time he also suggested interviewing a couple council members who are often behind the counter in the clerk’s office and offered any documents in which he had written similar letters on in the past to the police for matching handwriting.
“We do not know who took the $50 my father-in-law gave to the clerk last year for his dump permit or if it is even missing. It may have just not been documented,” King said. “I have also contacted several people who bought dump permits from the city and the handwriting appears to be the same. I do believe we have a better system of checks and balances that will prevent this in the future.”
King said he is very disappointed that this situation occurred and will recommend to the council the city install more security features at City Hall including key card access and more cameras.
VanDeusen said only one permit was reported missing to his department.
Members of the Common Council and City Clerk Susan Semione declined to comment on the investigation.
However, Semione said a dump permit is available to any city resident with a valid drivers license that can prove residency for $50. The dump sticker is valid from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 of any given year and is needed by residents to use the landfill in addition to their regular curbside pickup.
Semione said Insognia has purchased a 2013 dump permit, but the one in question was from 2012.