The former general counsel of an International Brotherhood of Teamsters local for employees of the New York State Thruway Authority has been sentenced to two-and-two-thirds to eight years in prison for stealing funds from the union by falsifying expenses for professional education and legal reference materials, prosecutors announced Aug. 9 (People v. Clor, N.Y. Sup. Ct., No. 5866-11, sentencing 8/8/12).
Kevin Clor, was sentenced by Justice Carol Berkman of state Supreme Court for New York County, who also ordered him to pay $161,680 in restitution.
In June, Clor pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree grand larceny, 16 counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, and 16 counts of first-degree falsifying business records.
Clor was general counsel of the New York State Thruway Employees Local 72, an IBT local, from January 2001 to April 2011. The union represents some 2,500 thruway toll collectors, grounds workers, janitors, painters, and carpenters.
Working from a home office in Buffalo, N.Y., Clor was entitled to reimbursement for legitimate and necessary business expenses incurred on behalf of the union and required travel, prosecutors said.
But from January 2006 to May 2011, they charged, he stole approximately $184,000 from the union by submitting approximately 150 forged receipts for reimbursement. Approximately $127,976 was paid to the defendant from the union's Welfare Fund, and approximately $56,004 was paid from its general account, they said.
Among the false receipts that Clor submitted for reimbursement were several for continuing legal education (CLE) classes that he never attended or were never offered, and legal materials that he never purchased, prosecutors said.
Bogus CLE Expenses Claimed
The false expenses, they charged, included $30,000 in CLE classes given by the International Foundation, an accredited CLE provider, as well as more than $48,000 in CLE classes listed as having been given by the Education Certification Department of the state Civil Service Department.
But the Civil Service Department does not operate such an agency and the address listed on the receipts is not a valid department address, prosecutors charged.
The false expenses also included more than $23,000 in CLE classes at the Nichols School, which is a private middle and high school near Clor's home in Buffalo that offers no CLE classes, prosecutors said. The only expense that Clor appears to have incurred at the school was the rental of its ice rink on two occasions, they said.
Clor also claimed more than $22,000 for numerous legal reference materials from the publisher Thomson Reuters, but the receipts had the wrong corporate name of the company and included the names of alleged sales representatives who are not employees there, prosecutors said. Some of the books Clor claimed to have purchased were not published by Thomson Reuters, they added.
Defense Attorney: Term Is ‘Disproportionate’
In a statement, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said: “This defendant grossly abused his position as a member of the bar and betrayed the trust of thousands of public employees. His conduct went well beyond violating codes of professional responsibility—he stole from his client, and I thank Justice Berkman for today's just sentence.”
In a brief interview, Clor's defense attorney, Jeremy Saland of the New York law firm Crotty Saland, said he was disappointed by the sentence in light of other cases involving “similar and even more serious conduct.”
A review of dozens of cases involving theft by lawyers, doctors, and public officials, he said, showed lesser sentences for crimes involving greater amounts of money and longer periods of time.
Clor takes responsibility for his actions, but “the sentence was not proportionate to his conduct,” Saland told BNA.