Former Lake George official charged with tax fraud

David Decker

GLENS FALLS — The former director of Lake George Watershed Coalition has been charged with three additional felonies for allegedly failing to claim $72,000 in income on his personal income taxes.

The tax counts come in addition to the 20 felony charges that accuse David J. Decker of stealing $169,156 in funds while heading the watershed coalition, which oversaw a variety of watershed improvement projects around the Lake George basin for decades.

Decker is accused of taking state and federal funds that were to be used for environmental projects and diverting them to himself. Some of the alleged thefts took place through payments to what authorities believe was a shell company he set up that was made to look like a supplier for some of the coalition’s projects.

When Decker claimed he had not stolen any money and that any payments he received were legitimate, the state Department of Taxation & Finance began an investigation, which led to additional charges that accused him of lying on his 2012 tax return.

The agency charged him with felony counts of tax fraud, grand larceny and offering a false instrument for filing, alleging he under-reported his income by $72,000 and that the false return cost the state more than $5,000 in income taxes.

The charges were filed in Glens Falls because “a portion of that under-reported income was derived from transactions that took place in Glens Falls,” wrote Investigator Joseph Dix of the state Department of Taxation & Finance.

Warren County District Attorney Jason Carusone said his office was investigating the charges and determining how to proceed, as the investigation of the watershed coalition theft case continues as well.

Decker’s lawyer, Joseph Brennan, could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Decker, an engineer who formerly worked for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, has run the coalition since 2001, helping to guide the finances of projects to keep invasive species out of the lake and transform the former Gaslight Village amusement park into Charles Wood Park, among other work.

He has worked closely with town boards in Queensbury, Lake George and Bolton, the village of Lake George and with regional environmental groups as he guided dozens of grant applications to pay for various lake protection projects.

The arrests, which began in March 2017, shocked local officials with whom he worked closely from an office in Lake George.

Decker, 67, was arraigned on the tax charges in Glens Falls City Court and released on his own recognizance. He is due back in court on May 5.


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