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Frederick Fritschler, ex-Ulster official, fined over $500G for swiping donations, New York AG says

A former Ulster County official will have to pay more than a half-million dollars in fines after using charity donations for fancy meals and Christmas gifts, the state attorney general said Thursday.

Frederick Fritschler, 59, steered donations from the Lower Esopus River Watch Inc., an organization he controlled in his capacity as the chairman of the county's environmental management council, to his own personal account, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement.

Taking more than $155,000 from the charity by using its credit card and making cash payments to himself, Fritschler used the money to pay for personal expenses, including vacations, Christmas gifts and meals at DePuy Canal House in High Falls and The Inn at Stone Ridge, authorities said.

The Rosendale resident, who served for 11 years as the chairman of the environmental council before stepping down in 2007, had arranged for the not-for-profit organization to hold title to all of the vehicles, computers and other equipment used by county employees assigned to the council. When he resigned, Fritschler refused to return the property to the county, depriving employees from carrying out their duties, the release added.

He was tried last fall in Ulster County Supreme Court in front of Justice Raymond J. Elliott III, who ruled in favor of the attorney general in all of his claims against Fritschler. The judge's decision in the civil case was filed Thursday.

Fritschler represented himself in court. A message left at a number listed for him was not immediately returned.

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