LAKE GEORGE — The former director of the Lake George Watershed Coalition has been sentenced to eight to 24 years in state prison for stealing state grant funds.
A jury earlier this year convicted David Decker, 69, of Burnt Hills, of six felony charges — grand larceny, scheme to defraud and four counts of offering a false instrument for filing.
He stole $235,000 meant to improve the area surrounding Lake George region
He did this two ways, according to state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office: by double billing the same work to two grants, one from the town of Queensbury and one from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a total gain of $135,000. Also, the Comptroller’s Office said, evidence showed that he pocketed over $100,000 in state grant funds earmarked for subcontractors whom he never paid.
Bank records showed Decker withdrew funds at Saratoga Race Course and three casinos, and that he paid personal expenses and used the funds for deposits into his personal investment funds, the Comptroller’s Office said. It added that Decker filed four false tax returns in an attempt to conceal this.
Decker was arrested in 2017 and was indicted in 2018 on 22 charges; that was narrowed down to eight counts when the case went to trial. Jurors acquitted him of the charge of corrupting the government.
“Mr. Decker helped himself to hundreds of thousands of dollars meant to help his community,” DiNapoli said in a news release. “Thanks to my partnership with District Attorney [Jason] Carusone, the Department of Taxation and Finance, and the Warren County Sheriff’s Department, Decker’s shameless exploitation of his position of trust was exposed and he has now been held accountable for his actions.”
The Lake George Watershed Coalition was a loose coalition of municipal and environmental groups around Lake George that did environmental improvement projects, including the construction of a water-filtering wetland at the site of the former Gaslight Village amusement park.