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In North Hempstead, cash payments for services may soon end

Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth in

Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth in Town Hall in Manhasset, April 8, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth said she wants the town to move away from handling cash after a secretary was charged with embezzling more than $98,000 over a 20-month period.

“We’re doing everything we can to go away from cash in the town. It’s the best way of doing business, and we want the environment to be the best for the town and its residents,” Bosworth said in an interview Thursday.

Nassau prosecutors last week charged Helen McCann, 51, of Roslyn Heights, with stealing the money from the town’s Solid Waste Management Authority in Port Washington, where she worked as a secretary.

The town was criticized for having a “cash-only” policy at a “Resident Drop-Off” event, where yard waste and construction debris were deposited for a fee, and for not having a comptroller in place for 12 of the 20 months the alleged theft occurred.

Town Comptroller Averil Smith was writing a request for proposals to hire a consultant to study moving away from cash in the town when she discovered the alleged theft in mid-January 2016, town spokeswoman Carole Trottere said.

The Nassau District Attorney’s Office opened an investigation on Jan. 21, the day the town fired McCann.

The alleged theft occurred between May 11, 2014, and Jan. 11, 2016. McCann’s attorney, Edward Lieberman of Sea Cliff, called the charges a “complete fabrication” at her Feb. 29 arraignment at First District Court in Hempstead.

The cash-free procedures would be implemented at various town locations, such as the highway department, animal shelter, and at parks and beaches, officials said.

The town already works with two credit card vendors and is in the process of implementing the policy at town locations, including at the solid waste agency.

The town board passed a resolution at its March 8 meeting authorizing the town to absorb the 3 percent credit card surcharge for customers at the Solid Waste Management Authority.

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