Closing the chapter on the Patterson Volunteer Fire Department scandal, ex- treasurer Albert Melin was sentenced to 33 months in prison by a federal judge Friday.
Melin, who pled guilty to fraud and tax charges stemming from his embezzlement of more than $1.1 million from the Patterson fire department, received the decision from US District Judge Nelson Roman. He pled on Nov. 2, 2016 to one count of wire fraud and one count of subscribing false tax returns.
Fire department president Eleanor Smith and fire chief Matt Szpinder both read victim impact statements prior to the judge passing down his sentencing. Two dozen members were at the sentencing hearing.
The fire department was hoping to see Melin, who now lives in North Carolina, get the maximum of 44 months, Smith said. The defense requested 18 months.
Melin, a chiropractor, was first elected the treasurer of the department in 2013. From Dec. 2013 to Oct. 2015, Melin embezzled funds by writing checks to the two businesses he owned, 211 Medical PC and NAS Management Co., Inc., according to the New York State Comptroller’s Office. The state comptroller’s office said Melin then deposited the checks into the bank accounts held by the two businesses.
He also charged expenses of the two companies to the fire department’s debit card, according to the state comptrollers.
Melin was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $1,151,665 in ill-gotten gains and to pay $1,349,318 in restitution.
Smith slammed Melin for showing no remorse during the hearing for his actions that led to controversy at the fire department for months when the embezzlement was discovered in Oct. 2015.
“We’ve been working this way since 1921 and we’ve always had honesty in the fire department, we trusted each other, it was our family,” Smith said. “And our family member betrayed us and we never thought that would happen.”
Smith wanted residents to know that all the money stolen from the department was recovered months ago through the department’s insurance company. Any money Melin pays back will go back to the insurance company, she said.
Smith stressed since Melin’s crimes, the department has instituted “so many policies in place that this will never happen again.”