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Audit finds gaps in North Patchogue Fire District records

A North Patchogue fire chief used his department-issue vehicle to commute to his job in New York City, causing the loss of more than $31,000 worth of fuel, a state audit has found.

Fire district officials also could not account for $55,000 worth of gasoline because of incomplete inventory records, auditors said in the report, released Wednesday. The audit also questioned $26,809 in credit card purchases for local meals and out-of-state travel.

The 31-page audit looked at the district's books from January 2013 to June 2014.

North Patchogue officials, in a four-page written response, defended the district's vehicle-use policy, saying the unidentified chief was allowed to use the fire vehicle to travel to New York City. Fire officials also disputed other aspects of the audit, but said they plan to correct "several deficiencies in our operations."

"Most of the issues were promptly addressed as they were identified by your staff, during the audit," Paul Gonnelly, chairman of the North Patchogue board of fire commissioners, wrote to Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office. "We are preparing a detailed corrective action plan, which will be provided to your office."

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