ALBANY, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman obtained a $540,000 judgment Wednesday against a former Ulster County official who allegedly diverted taxpayer funds for personal use to a charity he controlled.
Frederick Fritschler allegedly abused his position as chairman of the Ulster County Environmental Management Council between 2002 and 2006 by steering public funds to his not-for-profit organization, the Lower Esopus River Watch Inc. Fritschler also allegedly used some of the money to pay for personal living expenses, such as entertainment, clothing, meals and vacations.
"Abuse of your official position for private gain is unacceptable no matter who you are," Schneiderman said. "This former county official is being required to repay every cent of the taxpayers' money he obtained under false pretenses - plus a sizable amount in interest."
Schneiderman's Charities and Public Integrity Bureaus filed a lawsuit against Fritschler in 2008, alleging public corruption, misuse of government funds, breach of fiduciary duty and fraud. The court found that Fritschler breached his fiduciary duties to LERW and defrauded Ulster County taxpayers.
Fritschler resigned as chairman of the EMC in January 2007 after evidence surfaced of his conflicts of interest. Before the trial, Schneiderman's office oversaw the dissolution of LERW and settled related claims against the organization's board of directors.
In addition to the $540,000 judgment, which includes $385,000 in damages and $155,000 in interest, Fritschler is barred from serving as a fiduciary for any New York charitable entity and from soliciting charitable contributions in New York.