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Ex-ORDA official takes plea deal, continues lawsuit against ORDA

LAKE PLACID — A former financial officer for the state Olympic Regional Development Authority recently took a plea deal in Essex County Court and agreed to pay the authority $8,026 and work 150 hours of community services to resolve allegations that he stole thousands of dollars from ORDA.

Padraig Power and his legal representation, Joshpe Mooney Paltzik LLP, said his plea was a response to financial and emotional stress.

“Over the past year, my family and I have endured a nightmarish ordeal,” Power said in a statement. “From the start, I have maintained my innocence, and now I can put this matter behind me after accepting a totally non-criminal plea. It was a difficult decision to accept any type of deal, as it has been my highest priority to clear my name and reputation completely and unequivocally. However, fighting the state is incredibly draining emotionally, not to mention financially devastating for a husband and wife with two young children.”

His lawyers said they were happy the cased ended with a non-criminal plea to a violation.

In July 2018, the state Inspector General alleged Power illegally used ORDA credit cards to make more than $6,300 in personal purchases, mostly alcohol and food, between 2013 and 2017. He was charged with grand larceny in the third degree and official misconduct.

“For years, this defendant allegedly used taxpayer funds to subsidize exorbitant bar tabs and other improper personal expenses, undermining his own role as an internal control officer, and undermining what should have been a commitment to integrity and public service,” IG Catherine Leahy Scott said in a press release.

Power claimed those credit card charges were approved by then-CEO Ted Blazer and the purchases were nothing out of the ordinary.

The criminal charges came more than a year after ORDA fired Power.

In a previous interview, ORDA Communications Manager Jon Lundin said an internal audit of the authority’s finances found irregularities.

“We then referred those findings to the inspector general’s office,” he said. “Power is no longer an employee with us.”

In November 2018, Power filled a lawsuit against the IG and ORDA, claiming they were withholding documents he requested under the Freedom of Information Law. The requested documents include things such as various ORDA credit card statements from 2013 to 2018, contracts related to ORDA and alcohol-providing entities, and emails between Power, Blazer, board Chairman J. Patrick Barrett and board member Ed Weibrecht.

State Supreme Court Justice Richard Meyer issued an order in support of Power. A hearing is scheduled for May 17 in Essex County Court.

In a statement Friday, Lundin wrote, “ORDA has provided all requested, non-exempt records and otherwise cannot comment on ongoing litigation.”

Power’s lawsuit suggests that his removal and subsequent charges against him were based on less-than-ideal working relationships with Barrett and Weibrecht.

In a previous interview, Weibrecht said he doesn’t recall a negative interaction with Power. Barrett said, “I had very little if any, contact with (Power). We’d work together at board meetings, but Power worked directly under Ted Blazer.” Power’s lawyer Ed Paltzik corroborated that, saying they didn’t work closely with each other.

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