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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, November 8, 2019

Former Prattsville Town Supervisor and Local Businessman Charged with Fraud

ALBANY, NEW YORK – An indictment unsealed today charges former Prattsville Town Supervisor Kory O’Hara, age 42, and Prattsville resident Stephen Baker, age 68, with fraud relating to grants extended to Prattsville in the wake of Hurricane Irene.  

The announcement was made by:

  • United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith;
  • New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli;
  • James N. Hendricks, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI);
  • John Tiano, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office, Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG); and
  • Christina Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge, Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Region (HUD-OIG). 

 

The indictment charges O’Hara and Baker with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and theft concerning a program receiving federal funds.  O’Hara is also charged with bank fraud and making false statements in a loan application. 

The charges in the indictment are merely accusations.  The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

In August 2011, Hurricane Irene caused significant damage to the Town of Prattsville, resulting in the issuance of millions of dollars in rehabilitation grants to Prattsville and its residents.  As Town Supervisor, O’Hara entered into various grant agreements, including with the New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation and the New York Department of State. 

The indictment charges O’Hara and Baker with conspiring to fraudulently obtain grant funds. 

According to the indictment, between 2013 and 2015, Baker provided O’Hara with false invoices from his Prattsville-based modular home business, Moore’s Homes, purporting to reflect construction work on O’Hara’s automotive garage, O’Hara’s Service Station, which Moore’s Homes did not perform.  O’Hara issued checks to Moore’s Homes reflecting payment on the invoices, but Baker returned all of the money. 

O’Hara, who was Town Supervisor at the time, then submitted the false invoices and fully reimbursed checks to Prattsville and the New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation to fraudulently obtain $24,915 in grant proceeds under the New York Main Street Program. 

The indictment further alleges that, between 2014 and 2016, O’Hara submitted the same false invoices and fully reimbursed checks to the New York Department of State and Office of the New York State Comptroller to fraudulently obtain grant proceeds for Prattsville under the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program.  In addition, the indictment alleges that O’Hara submitted other false invoices to obtain grant proceeds from the New York State Electric and Gas Corporation, and submitted the same false invoices and made false representations to NBT Bank, N.A., in applying for a business loan in November 2012. 

O’Hara and Baker appeared today in Albany before United States Magistrate Judge Daniel J. Stewart, and were released pending a trial scheduled before Senior United States District Judge Frederick J. Scullin, Jr.

This case is being investigated by the Office of the New York State Comptroller, Division of Investigation; FBI; DHS-OIG; and HUD-OIG, with assistance from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission Office of the Inspector General, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cyrus P.W. Rieck.

Topic(s): 
Disaster Fraud
Financial Fraud
Updated November 9, 2019