Stealing From The Public Will Not Be Tolerated

We would hope, after three successful prosecutions for various types of theft, that local elected officials would get the message that stealing from the public simply will not be tolerated.

Former Dunkirk Mayor Richard Frey was the latest public official in Chautauqua County to have his hand caught in the cookie jar. Prosecutors alleged Frey devised and executed a scheme from January 2003 through June 2012 to defraud the co-owners of the Clarion Hotel, Marina & Conference Center and the owner of Fieldbrook Foods by inducing them to make contributions to his mayoral and other political campaigns. Prosecutors say the contributions totaled more than $50,000 which were spent not on personal items, not campaign or official expenses.

Friends and supporters of recent public theft cases have given various reasons or rationalizations for stealing money from the public for personal use. Let us be clear — there is never a good reason to steal from the public. There should be no personal issue or problem that warrants breaking the trust the public places in the people who are either elected to represent them or hired to conduct the public’s business. Hopefully, this is the last of these cases we will see for quite some time.