The state police officer said, in audio, "I don't know what your agenda is."
(more audios to come)
Now, I should be able to report a crime in a purple thong, a full length Indian feather headdress, holding a picture of Che Gevara. If the crime is a crime, the police should take my statement and investigate.
I walked in business attire with a stack of invoices fingering the county attorney's office in hundreds of separate alleged counts of filing false financial instruments and grand larceny, with the local district attorney clearly aware of the activity. But, as I also had this blog up and running, maybe I had some kind of agenda that was preventing the State Police from investigating, as gathering evidence of criminal activity would be stunningly easy for a guy with a badge and although the alleged crimes involve invoices, the basic outlines of the fraud are completely easy to understand: you got paid for 30 hours a week every week for nine years to be at 401 State Street. There is no log that allows you to work somewhere else. You were never in the office. You had another office where you were. You made calls and sent bills to other clients from that other office. You did no work for the County to justify your pay and your pension. This is an easy matter to investigate.
Although the office states in the audio that there is plenty of evidence to start an investigation, he does not start an investigation. So I take down my blog, just to get any "agenda" problem out of the way. I go away for seven months.
As I explain below, I stopped blogging to give the State Police and the Comptroller a chance to do something about alleged ongoing felonies in Columbia County government without me bothering them, as they indicated they intended to do in recorded phone calls. The Comptroller was supposedly on the case. Okay fellas, do your thing. I'll give you some time and leave you alone.
But, once I stopped blogging about corruption, once I stopped thinking about Robert Fitzsimmons, I found I was happier. I wrote a novel. I did oil painting. See more here. I worked with kids in my home school group, inventing imaginary lands and writing stories in the worlds they invented. Here is the book we made (it's great fun, high recommended great kids: available in the Kinderhook and Chatham libraries). I wrote some other stuff. More. More. I learned to play guitar a bit. I started milking my sheep. Nice time, no blog.
Sunshine on the Hudson, sorry, but I didn't miss you. My life is not perfect and neither am I, but as you can see, I do not need this blog or getting into a rough and tumble with the Costra Nostra government of Columbia County to have a good life.
For the record, I am not interested in punishing individuals. I want a better system. I have other things I'd rather do. I get nothing out of any of this. But, well, the bad guys are not supposed to win. I just don't like that ending. And I'd like my tax money not to be stolen. And left alone by grasping government. That's my agenda. That seems to bother the State Police.
I was literally minding my own business (Glencadia Dog Camp) when local government knocked on my door. I fought back. I found that the government had listed their private boat club as a state park so they wouldn't have to pay property taxes. The town was giving away money to the lawyer with no paperwork what-so-ever. Then I found Sleepergate.
So here I am, back. When I turned this blog off, I said I would come back when the authorities did their job and pat them on the back or when I went to federal court to bring a 1983 action against the county myself. Niether of those two things happened but I'm back anyway. I have other news, below, but I haven't filed the suit yet. I just decided I had to come back.
Again, the biggest example of corruption reported on this blog, is Sleepergate, five no show (or almost no show) attorney jobs over at least three and likely many more years. How much cheating is this scandal? A lot. Millions.
I'm pretty sure that most of the larceny in monetary value that goes on in Columbia County happens in town halls and county offices. As per the value of stuff stolen in Columbia County, Sleepergate is probably a significant percentage of all the crime in the county.
The police don't exist to investigate them guys. The police exist to arrest poor people who are not friends of powerful law enforcement officials.
The State Police are not alone in this way of being. The New York State Comptroller, the FBI, the county sheriff: they all know that the story that ran on the front page of the Albany Times Union means there is criminal activity likely ongoing at 401 State Street. But they don't care.
I mean, seven dudes, two desks. 26 hours on one "day." Something is definitely wrong. You don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to figure this sucker out.
Just look at the paper. It's all on the paper. I have the paper. I gave them all the paper. Officials all over New York are wiping their asses with invoices showing fun and games at the Columbia County attorney's office. Good thing I sent them paper.
Rich, well connected lawyers with a license to steal your tax money. Republican and Democrats stealing together. Why? Because there is no cop on this beat. I got a lot of recorded calls and meetings. They are all going up here. I'll get my ducks in order, then post more audio and court docs.
Here is a recorded meeting with DA Paul Czajka, 45 minutes of audio. He said Sleepergate looked bad. He said it looked like a crime. What did he do? Promoted Tal Rappleyea after seeing the depth of the problem.
Look at this article. Last line: "Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka has authorized town Attorney Tal Rappleyea to prosecute violations of Austerlitz town laws."
Why did Paul Czajka, the top law enforcement officer in Columbia County promote a guy after telling me he looks crooked? And the guy is the husband of his own secretary, Holly Rappleyea, as he says in the audio (at the end, after I gave him all I had).
What's the problem with that? Czajka knew Rappleyea might have helped himself to a half million he didn't earn when he authorized the same guy to prosecute poor folks in town court. Tough on crime. If you are poor. And have the wrong friends.
I got Andrew Howard on the phone admitting he did not do his hours at 401 State. I have Robert Fitzsimmons from 2011. More of that kind of thing. No one wants with a badge is interested, so it goes online.
The calls, the audio, along with the invoices and other documentary evidence, paints a picture of open criminality not being investigated by the authorities because the guys involved seem to know the right people.
In New York City, a ridiculous bribery scheme involving much less money than Sleepergate was busted up by the FBI. Meanwhile, in the Northern District, the local FBI guys, based out of Albany, have busted absolutely zero politicians. You would think an FBI office in Albany could be quite busy busting politicians.
Here is the FBI's list of public corruption cases. Any cases out of Albany, New York? Here is the list of cases out of Albany. See any political corruption on there?
Why is the Albany office of the FBI not prosecuting public corruption? Why does the Trenton office bust a guy? The downstate guys bust someone? Wait, those are black guys. Does the FBI only bust black politicians, and any white guys who get swept up the scheme? Or do they ever wire white guys?
Other priorities? Racism? Incompetence? What is the problem? There is a problem. Albany FBI. Albany, New York. No political corruption convictions. Please explain. Are the politicians not guilty of stuff? No, that's not the answer...
The New York State comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and his chief investigator Joseph Fiore don't mind going after the unconnected lone wolf who cheats the pension system, some cat being sneaky on his own, but a whole gang of them? No.
No, that's not what the Comptroller does. Here is a phone call. Here is another. Stringing me along. Letting well connected lawyers cheat the pension system. The comptroller exists as kabuki theater for the voters, pretending to be watching the store. In fact, there is no system to deal with corruption. So, guess what, there is a lot of corruption.
In a state lead by Andrew Cuomo: Shaking rich people down as Attorney General and politicizing law enforcement to benefit himself you don't think there should be a system, do you? Cuomo knows the way power in New York, and now is generalismo.
The County Sheriff
In fact, if the County Sheriff wants new cars, a raise, who do you think they ask? Pat Grattan and Robert Fitzsimmons. Guess who is at the center of this scandal? Here is sheriff's office response. How does this make any sense? But, they were ready to arrest me for gathering evidence of an alleged ongoing felony racket.
Here are some salaries over there for this rural county with low street crime: Michael Merante $127,081 Brendan Filli $109,790 Louis Bray $106,400 Michael Stelling $101,092 Paul Graziano $100,716 Dave Barlett $95,328 James Sweet 92,931 John Davi $92,553
Fitzsimmons can get the sheriff to do what he wants, seems like. He controls the supervisors, and through them, the sheriff's salaries. The lawyers in this scandal are critical to the system of corruption.
Other stuff going on
The county is spending a million dollars on an airport expansion that makes no sense and involves bad figures. The county has millions in uncollected taxes but has to hire an outside firm to do title searches. But, of course, they have seven lawyers on the books in the office. But those guys? What do they actually do? Not title searches.
The county attorney's office is involved in these issues. The Times Union ran a front page story about how one of them billed 26 hours on a single day is the tip of the iceberg. The lawyers in that office represent most of the towns and villages in Columbia County and some in Greene County.
Tip of the iceberg. Costa Nostra government.
The senior center in Valatie and the HUD money seems fishy. Mayors of Chatham and Valatie villages: PROPS! Good elected officials, I think. Thanks. Stay strong.
Message to the rest of the elected officials in this county (and maybe state): If you aren't trying to do something about the crooks running this place, you are helping them.
Costra Nostra in charge. Tax money for the taking.
About FOIL (Freedom of Infomation Law): The story in the Times Union was based on stuff I FOILed and wrote about here on this blog. First, I FOILed invoices and pension records and minutes. Next, I requested a piece of paper produced by assistant county attorney Tal Rappleyea. So that's a bit of news: I asked for, exactly, "any document that shows that Tal Rappleyea did a lick of work." The county didn't give me anything, not a single piece of paper. I went to court.
I lost in court. Here is the decision and my response. I appealed to the Appellant Division. Memos and decisions here for those that want to see all the filings (soon).
I mean, I know he claimed 30 hours a week from the county to get his pension. 30 hours a week and he didn't make any paper? 9 years? No paper?
Tal Rappleyea has another office in Valatie. I have an audio recording of his secretary saying he never worked in any other office in any of the years she worked there. I'll dig that out and post it.
I have invoices and minutes of meetings from towns that place Rappleyea elsewhere than 401 State Street on hundreds of days when he submitted timesheets saying he was at 401 State Street. I have a letter from Pat Grattan stating that they did not keep logs, and, according to Comptroller rules, you have to be in the office if you don't keep a log.
They didn't keep a log of work. And none of them came into the office for anything like the 30 hours they claimed. Rappleyea is the easiest to catch. He is not the most guilty.
Here's the political news that is not covered elsewhere: 1) I lost a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) lawsuit against Pat Grattan and Columbia County and appealed; 2) my main claim against Stuyvesant survived a challenge in Federal Court; 3) the state police, the FBI and the New York Comptroller think it's fine for rich, white politicians to steal; 4) I am still getting bothered by the town of Stuyvesant.
Administrative note: wikicoco.com is now http://columbiacounty.wikispaces.com/ -- this will help with a number of broken links.
While you're waiting for the other audio, here is what I have up so far.