Former ComLinks CEO Nancy Reich pleaded not guilty to six felony counts Tuesday in Franklin County Court in Malone.
She was charged with fourth-degree grand larceny, four counts of first-degree falsifying of business records and first-degree offering of false instrument for filing, all class E felonies.
The state comptroller's office released an audit last July accusing Reich of spending nearly $100,000 in grant money - intended for ComLinks' charitable work that focuses on feeding and housing the poor and helping people find work - to support a lavish lifestyle for herself. In August, the Saratoga County district attorney's office was appointed to run a grand jury investigation into the audit's accusations. Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne asked for a special prosecutor because ComLinks contracts with his office to provide victim services.
Reich, 64, of Paul Smiths, filed her plea Tuesday in front of Clinton County Judge Patrick McGill, who was filling in for Franklin County Judge Robert Main Jr., who is on vacation. She was then released on her own recognizance.
Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli put out a statement Tuesday afternoon vowing that his office will continue to work with prosecutors to provide whatever support they need to win a conviction.
"Any misuse of public dollars is unacceptable and must be punished," DiNapoli said in a press release. "What happened at ComLinks was disgraceful."
New Yorkers can report allegations of fraud, corruption or abuse of taxpayer money on the comptroller's website, www.osc.state.ny.us, or by calling a toll-free hotline at 1-888-OSC-4555 (1-888-672-4555).
The audit had also slammed then-program director Brian Cassini, who has since been promoted to executive director, for using his influence to get work for his wife and taking a mini-break using grant money. The audit also accused Chief Financial Officer Brenda Mallette-Glennon of not doing a good enough job to oversee the organization's financial affairs. Both were named when the cases were sent to Saratoga County for special prosecution, but officials would not comment on those cases.
Saratoga County Assistant District Attorney Richard E. Wendling represented the people in court Tuesday. Reich was represented by Andrew R. Safranko of the Albany law firm O'Connell and Aronowitz.