PLYMOUTH – The New York State Police have charged the former Plymouth highway superintendent with fraud and larceny charges for allegedly using public funds to make private purchases.
He had resigned in November after police began the investigation.
On February 6, police charged former Plymouth Highway Superintendent Rodney A. Oakley, 44, of Plymouth, with second degree scheme to defraud, five counts of fourth degree grand larceny, and eight counts of petit larceny. No specific amount was available but officials said at least thousands of dollars were missing. Town officials said the amount could be in the tens-of-thousands.
A preliminary investigation determined that Oakley was using town invoices to gain access to these funds.
According to Plymouth Town Supervisor Grace Nucero-Alger, Oakley was tampering with the receipts and invoices in order to charge the town.
Plymouth officials met with residents on Monday to share information. “As soon as we became aware of what was going on, we reported it. We took action as soon as we had any inkling,” she said.
“I was like, 'Oh my God.' We have to do the right thing. I knew something wasn't right with the bill. You have to do what is right in these roles, you have to take care of taxpayers. To think you could get away with that, I don't know what people are thinking,” she Nucero-Alger.
“The state police did a great job and the DA was very helpful too,” she said.
On November 14, 2022, town officials contacted state police and state auditors and an investigation began.
Town board member and deputy Supervisor Garry James said elected officials became suspicious after discovering an invoice for personal tires that had been altered and then charged to the town. After that he said board members began taking a closer look at other receipts.
He said they quickly found other ordered materials that were suspect, such as an order for parts for a backhoe loader the town did not own.
“We had enough information to contact the New York State Comptroller's Office and the New York State Police,” said James. “They had an investigation and went through and found a bunch of stuff that wasn't for the town, that Rodney had purchased and it never showed up at the town barn.”
Nucero-Alger said the town drafted a letter of resignation on behalf of Oakley and had the town's attorney present it to him to consider signing. She said he decided to sign it and resigned.
“He was encouraged to resign and he did,” said Nucero-Alger
She also said the state comptroller's office was in the process of reviewing a number of records. Oakley had been the town's highway superintendent for about five years, she said.
During the police investigation, it was determined that since December 2020 Oakley had been using town funds to purchase various car parts, tools, and materials for his own personal use.
Oakley was released on an appearance ticket and is scheduled to appear in the Town of Plymouth Court on February 22, 2023.