Welcome, Guest! - or
Easy to remember!  »  VinNews.com

Ulster County, NY - State Probe Businesses And Camp Permits Mess

Published on: July 16, 2009 10:52 AM
By:  Record
Change text size Text Size  

Ulster County, NY - Ulster County officials say they’re still not sure how many restaurants, camps and other regulated businesses are operating without permits, but they’ve called in help from the state Department of Health to sort through the mess.

Nereida Veytia, Ulster’s interim health director, said that state health workers have been coming two or three times a week to scour volumes of poorly-organized paper and electronic records that were left behind when former Health Director Dean Palen and his wife, Deborah, who was his secretary, were pushed out in June.

County and state officials are planning to get every business permitted by the end of August, but it’s still unclear how many are operating without proper documentation.

“Our attempt is to really assemble that information,” Veytia said. “It’s a moving target for us right now.”

On Wednesday, county Comptroller Elliott Auerbach said more bad bookkeeping has been discovered since Palen left. Auditors have found that health department workers never collected fines levied against tobacco vendors who sold to underage buyers. Auerbach said the misstep cost Ulster County revenue in the “low thousands.”


County investigators also reclaimed health department log books that Dean and Deborah Palen kept stored at their Stone Ridge home. The log books kept track of payments, permits and other health department business. Auerbach said it did not appear that any information had been lost.

“They were extremely controlling and they operated this department like it was a personal business,” he said.

The county investigation of its own health department began last month after roughly $33,000 in uncashed checks and a stack of permit applications were found in a safe behind Deborah Palen’s desk. This week the county released a detailed list of the checks, which were written to pay for restaurant permits, sewage treatment inspections, and permits to haul waste and operate public water supplies.

Some of the uncashed checks paid for permits that were issued retroactively. For instance, one McDonald’s franchise wrote a $200 check in 2008 for a permit that expired in 2005.

While the county was losing out on revenue, most operations still received their permits. Auerbach said it’s still unclear why Palen never cashed the checks.

One of the uncashed checks was written by former county Treasurer Lew Kirshner for his family’s catering business. “I believe they called to say they lost the check,” he said. “So I issued another one. I’ve had a permit every year.”

Restaurateurs and other business owners were confused by the process.

“They told me I never paid, so I gave them more checks,” said Sam Adel, owner of La Mirage Restaurant & Catering in Port Ewen. To pay for permits and violations, Adel wrote three checks totaling $900 that were never cashed. He still received his permits.

Restaurateur Sal Saccoccio echoed that confusion. Before his Shawangunk restaurant Sangiovese at the 1776 Colonial Inn was destroyed by fire last year, he paid for and received his permit.

“But my check was never cashed,” he said. “The whole accounting thing in Ulster County was kind of strange.”

More of today's headlines

Meah She'arim - A neighbor of a Jerusalem woman accused of withholding food from her child denounces the media attacks against “such a dedicated mother.” In an... Washington - Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says he was justified last year in suggesting that Bank of America Corp.'s chief executive could lose his job if the...



Read Comments (0)  —  Post Yours »


to post a comment

Click here to sign-in.

Scroll Up
Sell your scrap gold and broken jewelry and earn hard cash sell gold today!