Comptroller alleges potential fraud in an Erie County department

BUFFALO, NY - The Erie County Comptroller says there is "potential fraud" after a probe of the department of weights and measures.

Erie County's weights and measures department does inspections in stores, businesses, even gas stations. They make sure devices used to measure and weigh are accurate, if not fines can be imposed.

In an investigation that resulted from a whistle blower's tip, Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw says inspectors were fining businesses for inspections they never did.

"They were levying fines based on that minimal inspection and they were not even conducting the very thorough inspection to determine whether there was a problem with the product at the store level or the manufacturer level," he said.

Mychajliw says the director Edwin Gonsiorek used the county garage as a personal warehouse to store his 1966 buick riviera and he had employees working on the vehicle on county time.

A spokesman for the County Executive says "if that is the case, then that would be improper and would be addressed."

Mychajliw thinks the director should reimburse the county for storage fees. He has also reached out to the Erie County Sheriff's Department to see if the director's action is considered "theft of government services."

Another issue discovered during frank testimony revealed that the director was smoking on county property in the garage where flammable materials are stored. "What is going through someone's mind to light up near gasoline," said the comptroller.

The county executive's office says if true, the matter that will be addressed immediately.

The New York State Comptroller's office has been alerted to see if a further investigation is warranted about the fines imposed without the proper inspections being conducted.


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