QUEENSBURY — The former director of Lake George Watershed Coalition, accused of stealing nearly $170,000 from the organization, has been indicted on 22 criminal charges by a Warren County grand jury.
The grand jury handed up an indictment Tuesday that includes 21 felonies and one misdemeanor, including a new charge of first-degree corrupting the government, a count that is punishable by up to 25 years in state prison. That charge alleges he was a public official and that he “engaged in a scheme to defraud the state” or other municipal entity between September 2007 and December 31, 2016.
He also faces six charges of grand larceny as well as multiple counts of offering a false instrument for filing, falsifying business records, scheme to defraud and criminal tax fraud as well as a single charge of defrauding the government.
A full copy of the indictment is attached to the online version of this article.
David J. Decker, who is free on bail, is to be arraigned on the indictment June 6 in Warren County Court. His lawyer, Joseph Brennan, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The charges stem from allegations that Decker diverted $168,156 in state and federal funds that were earmarked for conservation projects to his own bank accounts, some of the money steered to a Glenville-based contracting company named Empire State Materials & Supply that Decker created and that authorities allege did not do any work or provide materials for projects.
The Burnt Hills resident was initially arrested in March 2017 after an investigation by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office that was spurred by a complaint from local engineer and taxpayer advocate Travis Whitehead, who delved into the finances of the coalition after Warren County Treasurer Michael Swan questioned financial issues with the coalition.
Decker claimed that the money had not been stolen and that any payments he received were legitimate, prompting a state Department of Taxation & Finance investigation that led to additional charges that accused him of lying on his 2012, 2013 and 2014 tax returns by not claiming the income.
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. Those counts are included in the indictment as well.
Decker, a professional engineer, was director of the coalition of municipalities and environmental groups and oversaw grants for environmental projects in the Lake George basin for 16 years.
The state Department of State and Town Officials in the towns that oversaw the grants were supposed to have been reviewing the documentation he provided for payments and reimbursement. Decker, who worked from an office in Lake George village hall, oversaw grants through the towns of Queensbury, Lake George and Bolton and the village of Lake George.
He was terminated from his $111,000-a-year position after his arrest.
The Sheriff’s Office, Warren County District Attorney’s Office, state Comptroller’s Office and Department of Taxation and Finance have been investigating the case.