A former Freeport village cashier has been charged with stealing more than $13,000 in residents' utility payments and pocketing the cash, authorities said.
Chevelle Dubois, 36, of Freeport, was arrested Wednesday by investigators with the Nassau County district attorney's office. She was charged with two counts of third-degree grand larceny, defrauding the government and 22 counts each of first-degree falsifying business records and official misconduct, officials said. Dubois faces up to 7 years in prison if convicted and is due back in court Sept. 18, officials said.
"This defendant abused the trust of her employer and the people of Freeport, leaving countless residents in danger of having essential utilities shut off through no fault of their own," District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement.
Dubois collected water and electric utility bill payments from village residents and recorded them in a computerized system, according to Rice. Between January 2012 and June 2013, Dubois would enter a resident's payment into the system, then allegedly alter the entry to reflect that the payment had been refunded to the resident. She would then pocket the money, Rice said.
The statement said Dubois would take the stolen cash and use it to repay the accounts she had stolen from the previous day. The scheme was discovered in May when a resident received a default notice and was able to produce receipts proving that he had paid the utility bill. Dubois had reversed the payment on about 724 accounts since November 2010, according to the statement.
Village Mayor Robert Kennedy said Dubois worked for the village for about three years. Dubois' attorney, Karl Seman of Garden City, said his client has "cooperated 100 percent" with authorities. He said the evidence "may very well demonstrate" that computer errors showed Dubois involved in transactions that she had no part in.
"It may also demonstrate that she's just a pawn because she did not have the authority and it is unlikely she had the ability to issue these refunds," Seman said.