Ex-VFW official charged in theft of $15K from post
ROTTERDAM A Rotterdam man is facing a court date this week in a case where he is accused of taking an estimated $15,000 from a local VFW post, officials said.
Paul J. Rizzo, 32, of Woodbridge Avenue faces one count of third-degree grand larceny, a felony.
Rizzo is accused of taking the money from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1895, at 609 Draper Ave., between December 2011 and July 2012, according to papers filed in court.
Rizzo was arrested in September, but details of the case were not reported then. He is due for a general appearance in Rotterdam Town Court on Thursday, according to court officials.
Rizzo is being prosecuted by Laurie Cummings. She said Monday that Rizzo served as the post’s quartermaster, essentially its treasurer.
“He took that responsibility and basically took advantage of his position,” Cummings said. “He was in charge of keeping the books, basically.”
Members of the post first realized there was a problem when a member tried to make a purchase, but was unable to. After looking into it, they turned the case over to the Rotterdam Police Department, Cummings said.
Rizzo allegedly took the funds from five separate VFW accounts, much of the money earmarked for charity work.
Rizzo is being represented by attorney Sven Paul. Paul declined to discuss the details of the case Monday.
This week’s scheduled appearance comes after Rizzo faced a misdemeanor trial last week in an unrelated assault and child endangerment case.
The month after he was charged in the VFW case, Rizzo was accused of hitting a 13-year-old. After a two-day trial last week, Rizzo was acquitted of the misdemeanor assault count, but convicted of the endangerment count.
That case was prosecuted by Schenectady County District Attorney’s office intern Joshua Bennett, with assistance from prosecutor Gerald Dwyer. Rizzo was represented by attorney Bruce Trachtenburg.
Trachtenburg on Monday called the misdemeanor case a family matter blown out of proportion, saying the case should never have been brought.
Trachtenburg also intends to file a motion to set aside the guilty verdict, arguing an acquittal on the assault should have also led to an acquittal on the endangerment count, as they were based on the same alleged facts.