Sunday, May 22, 2011

Grand jury indicts Ossining couple, 3rd suspect in Vassar College theft

A continuing investigation into a former Vassar College construction manager from Ossining has uncovered more widespread embezzlement than originally believed, a Dutchess County prosecutor said.

In grand jury indictments handed up Friday, Arthur, 44, and his wife, Jennifer Fisher, 38, are accused of stealing nearly $2.5 million by billing the college for work that was never done, District Attorney William Grady said.
The couple was charged last month with stealing about $1.9 million dating to 2008. But Senior Assistant District Attorney Edward Whitesell said further auditing of the college's finances between 2006 and 2008 revealed the Fishers and another man, Christopher DeSanto, 31, also of Ossining, had allegedly falsified an additional $600,000 in invoices.
"When the accountants went back and looked at that period, they discovered a second fictitious company," Whitesell said.
The Fishers were indicted on a felony count of first-degree grand larceny. Arthur Fisher also was indicted on two felony counts of second-degree grand larceny, four of forgery and four of criminal possession of a forged instrument. DeSanto was indicted on one count of second-degree grand larceny.
The Fishers were taken into custody April 1 when Poughkeepsie town police charged them with stealing from Vassar through a fictitious firm called C&R Construction. The additional $600,000 was billed through a phony company called Good Shepherd Construction, Grady said.
Arthur Fisher has been in the county jail since then on $100,000 bail. His wife was freed on bail April 2. DeSanto was released on $10,000 bail Friday afternoon, several hours after his arraignment before county Judge Stephen L. Greller.
The Fishers may also face illegal weapon charges in Westchester County stemming from the seizure of a number of guns in their home. Police also seized several vehicles worth an estimated $500,000 from them.
Attorneys representing the defendants did not return telephone calls Friday.
Grady commended the town police probe and Vassar for its cooperation.
Police were notified in March after an internal college audit revealed billing irregularities for a roof project, Vassar spokesman Jeff Kosmacher said, adding his thanks to investigators and saying the school would continue to cooperate.
If convicted of the top charge, the Fishers would face up to 25 years in prison. DeSanto faces a maximum of 15 years. All three are next due in court June 21.

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