MAYFIELD — A recently retired state official, who had been assigned to the roundabout project at the intersection of Route 30 and Route 30A, pleaded guilty in Town Court Tuesday to six false receipts in an attempt to defraud New York state out of taxpayer funds.
Kenneth Leisenring, 54, of Whitesboro, a retired assistant engineer in charge of New York state Department of Transportation Region 2: Utica, pleaded guilty to submitting fraudulent receipts to DOT for long-term lodging at the Sunset Bay Vacation Resort RV Park & Marina on the Great Sacandaga Lake during the roundabout project in 2019. The fraudulent receipts totaled $3,445.56.
Leisenring pleaded guilty to misdemeanor attempting to defraud the government and paid full restitution of the money owed. While he retired in May, he still attempted to “correct” his submissions and have the matter handled “in-house,” according to a news release from New York state Inspector General Letizia Tagliafierro.
“State employees who travel as part of their work duties are required to abide by strict guidelines and measures to ensure accountability and protect taxpayer funds,” Tagliafierro stated in the news release. “This individual flouted those guidelines and created fake receipts to obtain more than $3,000 in reimbursement he was not entitled to receive.”
Leisenring had been in charge of overseeing multiple DOT projects, including bridge rehabilitation, debris removal, and roundabout construction in and around Mayfield in Fulton County.
Tagliafierro said DOT staff noticed that Leisenring significantly overreported his expenses and received reimbursements to which he was not entitled.
“The Inspector General’s investigation found that Leisenring rented a space at the RV park in April 2019, paying a total $3,800 via a personal credit card, however, Leisenring submitted additional receipts purported to be from the facility to DOT on June 19, June 23, July 7, July 21, August 4 and August 18,” reads the news release. “In fact, all six receipts were fraudulent. The owner of the park told the Inspector General’s Office that the fake receipts appeared to be “cut and pasted from our old website,” and that he did not recognize the signatures on the documents.”
The IG’s investigation found state DOT overpaid Leisenring $3,445.56 based upon the fraudulent submissions, and that he had attempted to submit additional fraudulent receipts for reimbursements totaling $1,351.20. In addition, Leisenring never requested “unconventional lodging” travel status and was not entitled to the state per-diem while at a long-term rental at the RV park. Leisenring also submitted multiple emails to a DOT Travel Unit supervisor attempting to “correct” his submissions, noting his intention to retire in May.
In her news release, Tagliafierro thanked DOT for referring the matter to her office, the New York State Police for conducting the arrest, and the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office for prosecuting the case.