Former Ulster County finance commissioner Burt Gulnick, was arrested on Friday, June 16 after he surrendered himself to the state police at 9 a.m. on that date. Gulnick, who had resigned on March 1 from the position he had held for 12 years, faces charges related to his activities as treasurer of the Hurley Recreation Association and the actions in former county executive Mike Hein’s political campaign.
Gulnick was arraigned before the Honorable Judge John Parker and released on his own recognizance.
County executive Jen Metzger and legislature chair Tracey Bartels issued a statement.
“As I promised when I first learned of his alleged crimes,” said Metzger, “I am taking every step possible to ensure that taxpayer dollars are protected through a thorough, independent, and transparent investigation.”
Chair Bartels expressed dismay after being appraised of the list of crimes that Gulnick has allegedly committed related to his actions as treasurer of the Hurley Recreation Center. Bartels said she was encouraged by the collaboration between the legislature, comptroller, and county executive “which has already strengthened protections for taxpayer dollars and ensured that stronger internal controls will hold individuals accountable and severely limit or eliminate any chance for financial crimes in Ulster County government.”
Gulnick is alleged to have lifted more than $60,000 in rec center funds, having presented false information to board members regarding fund balances, and having entered incorrect electronic data to disguise larceny. Gulnick has been charged one count of grand larceny in the second degree, a Class C felony as well as two counts of falsifying business records in the first degree, both Class E felonies.
Relating to his actions as treasurer of Mike Hein’s political campaign, where he is alleged to have siphoned campaign donations from gift cards by improperly reporting the amounts as reimbursements. Gulnick has been charged with two counts of grand larceny in the third degree, a class D felony, along with an additional 49 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree.
If Gulnick is found guilty on all counts, a best-case scenario sees him facing a sentence of a decade in prison.
It was after an investigation into Gulnick’s alleged creative accounting at the recreation center had been disclosed that county comptroller March Gallagher began her own investigation.
A forensic audit of the county’s finances was also requested by state comptroller Tom DiNapoli.
“Today’s arrest of former commissioner of finance Burt Gulnick puts into stark perspective the importance of having trust in public institutions,” Gallagher said in her own statement. “Our team has taken on new audits and processes to ensure Ulster County’s fiscal integrity.”
At an April 19 meeting of the county legislature ways and means committee in 2022, Gulnick famously stormed out rather than answer questions posed to him about county foreclosure practices by legislator Joe Maloney.
“The argument started over 701 Grant Avenue not being foreclosed upon,” said Maloney. “And then when he stormed out was when I tied it to a donation from a couple of individuals that that had something to do with that property. My concern was he was the commissioner of finance and he was the treasurer of Mike Hein’s campaign. It was one-stop shopping, as Dave Donaldson always called it.”
Maloney started connecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to an array of different firms getting contracts and then donating thousands of dollars individually.
“Burt was on both sides of it,” said Maloney. “Basically awarding the bid, and then he was accepting the check, as treasurer of Hein’s campaign, from the people that were awarded the bid.”
The audit of the county’s financials run by the state comptroller is still ongoing, and elected officials are bracing for the possibility of more revelations.
The Hurley Recreation Association, a swimming and outdoor recreation park, is a nonprofit organization funded by members’ dues and guest fees. It is neither operated nor funded by the Town of Hurley.