Among the numerous customers ripped off by Bottini Fuel was the Town of Saugerties. According to court papers, the town is in line to be reimbursed almost $5,000.
Earlier this week, the state Attorney General’s Office announced that it settled with the Dutchess-based company. Bottini admitted that it defrauded customers by diverting rebates and overpayments for heating oil into “dummy” accounts in the company’s system, the attorney general’s office said. These funds were then appropriated for the benefit of the company’s own holdings, including credits to accounts held by the owners, their friends and family, employees and other businesses in which the owners had a personal or professional interest. Money owed as refunds to legitimate customers, businesses, and municipalities was stolen to offset the cost of personal fuel usage by Bottini Fuel and its beneficiaries. In addition to the nearly $1.8 million in civil damages that Bottini Fuel has turned over to the state, they will pay an additional $1.5 million in criminal fines and penalties.
“Bottini Fuel systematically defrauded private customers and municipalities out of rebates they were due,” said State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. “Thanks to my partnership with Attorney General [Barbara] Underwood, millions are now being returned to the taxpayers. I will continue to work to safeguard the expenditure of public funds and partner with law enforcement to punish those who attempt to defraud the public.”
As a result of the settlement, both the Town of Saugerties and its Water and Sewer Department will be reclaiming stolen funds in the amounts of $2,275.08 and $2,429.20 respectively. In total, according to the state, the company diverted a total of $1,762,771 in customer funds, with $590,887 taken from government entities. The biggest targets of these diversions included the Taconic Developmental Disabilities Services Organization, with a whopping $281,630, the Green Haven Correctional Facility at $145,957 and the Rondout Valley Central School District at $83,044.
Saugerties Town Supervisor Fred Costello said he was shocked by the news. “We are surprised and taken aback that there was this long-term deception of us and our residents,” he said. “We’re grateful for the attorney general. We’re obviously disappointed. Bottini was just awarded the town’s bid for fuel supply though a competitive process. I guess we’re going to need to have a chat to express our displeasure.”