Former chief in Border City Fire District in Waterloo accused of stealing thousands from department
SENECA COUNTY, N.Y. – The man who used to lead the Border City Fire District in the Town of Waterloo is now accused of siphoning thousands of dollars from it to line his own pockets.
John Morabito was arrested Sept. 21, according to the Office of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. While he was chief from 2015-2021, Morabito is accused of stealing $16,000 from the volunteer fire company. He allegedly diverted donations, rental hall payments, and other income into an disclosed bank account with four subaccounts in the fire department’s name at a local credit union.
According to the state comptroller’s office, Morabito also took income from an unauthorized third-party contract with the fire district’s rescue boat and staff to provide sonar testing services on Seneca Lake. He allegedly made $16,000 in unaccounted cash withdrawals, and he could not provide documentation to explain how the money was spent.
The comptroller’s office says Morabito’s alleged actions don’t follow protocol. Typically, only a fire company’s treasurer has the duty to open and manage bank accounts.
“The Fire Commissioners who oversee the department were not aware of the account,” according to a statement from the comptroller’s office.
Additionally, Morabito allegedly charged $2,000 in unauthorized purchases to a home improvement store credit card in the fire department’s name. The items he bought were used at his home, according to DiNapoli’s office.
According to Seneca County Undersheriff John Cleere, Morabito was a part-time deputy for decades. He left in 2014.
“Mr. Morabito is entitled to the same due process as anyone, so the Sheriff and I do not want to presume his guilt. If the allegations are proven to be true, then we will be deeply disappointed in Mr. Morabito. Stealing money from the Fire Department would be a betrayal of trust to the public, his former law enforcement profession, and the fire services alike.”
Morabito was charged with third-degree grand larceny and fourth-degree grand larceny. He was arraigned in Waterloo Town Court and is scheduled to return on Oct. 25.
News10NBC has reached out to Morabito for comment.