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BREAKING NEWS: 9 jail deputies arrested

Geneseo, N.Y. --- Friday afternoon nine Livingston County Jail Deputies were arrested by New York State Police following a nearly 18-month criminal investigation into alleged timesheet fraud.

The deputies were each charged with Offering a False Instrument for Filing 2nd Degree; a Class A Misdemeanor. They were processed at a New York State Police barracks in Livingston County and issued tickets ordering that they appear in Geneseo Village Court on Monday to answer to that charge.

13WHAM News has also learned that all nine of the deputies who were charged submitted their resignations to the Livingston County Sheriff prior to turning themselves in. In the case of two deputies resignations were tendered last month. Another deputy left the jail in June 2013.

The investigation was handled by New York State Police in consultation with Livingston County District Attorney Greg McCaffrey. The District Attorney tells 13WHAM News that he will not answer questions from the media until sometime next week.

A press release or statement later Friday is expected.

13WHAM News has learned the men being charged include two former part-time deputies and seven former full-time deputies. They are: Andrew Eichhorn, Tom Schledorn Jr., Jose Agosto Jr., Jeremiah Pratt, Marvin Yamonaco Jr., Mike Simpson, William "Billy" Baker, Tim Fraser, and Kyle Fisher.

The Investigation

13WHAM News and the Genesee Sun first broke reports about this investigation in December 2012. At that time a whistleblower came forward to county officials about an alleged shift-swapping scheme involving jail deputies.

Then Livingston County Sheriff John York and then Undersheriff James Szczesniak immediately launched an internal and criminal investigation. The criminal investigation was then turned over to the New York State Police.

Since December 2012 news of the investigation has been scarce with many asking questions about its progress or apparent lack of progress. The investigation was brought up at times during the 2013 campaign for Sheriff that ended with Tom Dougherty defeating Szczesniak.

The Genesee Sun posted a digital counter on its website counting the number of days the investigation has remained pending. At last check the counter read 541 days.  

Some members of the community, including Livingston County Conservative Party Chairman Jason McGuire, have been outspoken critics of the investigation and process.

"I think a lot of people in Livingston County have been frustrated by that really it's been 18 months or more now and there's been concern over what is happening here, why aren't we getting faster action?" McGuire told 13WHAM News. "I hope that the District Attorney will shine light on the situation and I think that's really what the people of this county are looking for. Essentially if this is something that just gets swept under the rug or it goes away that's a problem.'

The Shift Swap Scheme

While not explicitly addressed by investigating authorities multiple sources have described the alleged shift swapping scheme to 13WHAM News.

Typically it involved a full time jail deputy paying cash to a part time jail deputy in exchange for that part-timer working the full-timer's shift. The full time deputy would fill out his timesheet to reflect that he worked his shift when in fact he paid another person to do so.

Identifying victims of this alleged scheme has always remained part of the conversation surrounding this case. Were taxpayers defrauded or over-billed? Were part time deputies taken advantage of? Was cash exchanged reported as income on tax returns? Was there an impact to the pension system that credits employees various ways for the days they worked?

Based on the charges filed Friday, the crime alleged is a "paperwork crime" unlikely to result in any significant jail time

Who Takes The Fall For This?

None of the nine deputies arrested and charged on Friday were in any supervisory or administrative role to the knowledge of 13WHAM News sources. While the investigation may still be ongoing and others might still face charges questions about the possible involvement or alleged actions of those in charge at the jail still remain.

East Rochester lawyer David Morabito represents former Livingston County Jail Major James Rose who retired in December 2012 weeks after the investigation began.

"Quite frankly I feel very proud and honored to represent a man like him," said Morabito who does not expect his client to face any charges. "I think it happened at a much, much lower level and certainly didn't rise to the Major or the Sheriff."

Officially there is no word from the Livingston County District Attorney or New York State Police that indicates this is the conclusion of the investigation.

"Nobody knew anything personally, you're getting records you're reviewing records, you're signing off on the records I don't think there's any wrongdoing at the upper management of the jail at all," added Morabito.

Some, including McGuire, wonder if that is really the case or if the investigation was thorough and complete.

"I am concerned that it doesn't go far enough and it doesn't go high enough, you know essentially there are Corporals that are responsible in that jail for what occurs in that jail and to think that it's falling on the lower level guys and that somehow the corporals that signed off on what happened there didn't know about it, there's a problem there," said McGuire. "We'll be watching very closely to see where he takes this; there ought to be some level of prosecution and restitution rather than just sweeping this under the rug."

The nine deputies have various lawyers representing them. Kevin Van Allen represents five of the men (Fisher, Fraser, Baker, Simpson, and Yamonaco) and provided 13WHAM News with the following statement.

"This is a staffing issue and not an issue of my clients trying to steal from the taxpayers. I feel that these deputies are paying the price for being part of a system that was created in the name of saving money by intentionally under staffing the jail. These hard working men were part of a culture that required them to find their own answers on getting an occasional day off to be with their families. If anything the county saved resources by the actions of these men."

Jail Staffing

Livingston County Sheriff Tom Dougherty tells 13WHAM News that even with the recent resignations the jail is only two deputies short of being fully staffed. Eight new hires were processed this week in anticipation of the resignation. A fully staffed jail includes 28 part-timers and 33 full-timers according to Sheriff Dougherty.

He would not comment on the State Police investigation or D.A. McCaffrey's findings but Sheriff Dougherty did provide the following statement to 13WHAM News.

"I can confirm that seven employees have resigned in the last seven days; two others resigned previously. Since they have resigned their positions they will not face any internal investigation due to the fact that they are no longer employed by the Livingston County Sheriff's Office.

We can assure the people that I have served since January 1st that safeguards have been put in place to ensure that this can never happen again. We've accomplished this through proper policy and procedure."

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