More Lewiston Petrol-Gate, Worse Luck, Reiter Steals More Gas, Dowd Tries for a Quickie
By Frank Parlato
Just when you thought the good people of Lewiston were bored to tears with the fact that their former supervisor and former highway superintendent, Steven "Easy" Reiter, and two of his town police were stealing gasoline from the town gas pumps, more news comes our way and the Niagara Falls Reporter is forced to impose it once again upon the good, patient and generous people of Lewiston.
The Reporter recently learned that, in addition to the 107 gallons of gas that Steve Reiter stole while being caught on film over a two month period, evidence will soon prove just how many more gallons of gas Reiter stole during the year and one half between the NYS audit, until September 10, 2012, when Reiter became aware he was under FBI surveillance and, perforce, had to temporarily stop stealing gas.
No one except, perhaps, old "Easy" himself knows for certain how much gasoline was actually stolen from the people of Lewiston.
What we do know is that, on top of the 107 gallons Reiter stole while under surveillance by the FBI, he may have stolen an additional 75 gallons for good measure in the 12 days prior to leaving office in 2013.
Reiter had been stealing gasoline for years, even before he was town supervisor, in his capacity as highway superintendent.
Back in 2011, NYS State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office released an audit finding suspicious gas use. It is clear Reiter took thousands of gallons of gas, not only for his private use in the town truck provided to him, but he religiously filled five gallon containers for use in family vehicles, and for lawn mowers and other power equipment.
It is difficult, however, to prove just how much gas was stolen since the old green pickup truck Reiter drove had not been inspected since 1997. Therefore no one can say exactly how many miles old Steve drove "serving" the town.
Following the release of the state's audit, the town board declined to implement cameras at the site. In a way this is a good thing, since Amy Doores, Senior Examiner for Municipal Affairs for the NYS Comptroller office, is now auditing Town Hall again.
Sources tell us Doores has asked for all gas receipts and records of gas usage by town employees (Steve Reiter, in particular), from the period, May 2011 to the present. (This is said to be the real cause of Councilman Ernie Palmer's sudden decision to quit.)
Here is where it gets interesting: Despite the fact that the earlier NYS audit shows suspicious gas use, Reiter, sources say, continued to steal gasoline. From the date the audit ended to about a year and one half later when Reiter learned the FBI had a camera installed to watch him, Reiter helped himself.
So here is how auditors will finally be able to quantify how much Reiter stole: Shortly after becoming supervisor, Reiter obtained , at town expense, a 2008 Ford F-150 Pickup. This Ford was inspected and the mileage was recorded.
We are waiting on the exact numbers from a FOIL request. In the, meantime, an approximation based on inspection records, careful estimates, and information from our sources indicates that Reiter likely put on around 20,000 miles between April 2011 and September 2012.
Based on the estimated fuel rating for a Ford F150 (16-17 mpg), if Reiter drove 20,000 miles, he should have used around 1,200 gallons of gas.
Sources tell us Reiter easily used more than 2,200 gallons, which means either the Ford pickup got only 9 miles per gallon, or he stole an additional 800 gallons to use in other vehicles.
Notwithstanding what appears to be the outright theft of approximately 800 gallons of gasoline, pumped into gas containers, Reiter stole additional gas by using the town-owned Ford truck for his own personal business.
It is known he regularly drove to his country property in the Southern Tier, a 100 mile trip, in the town vehicle, oftentimes with a lawnmower, filled with town gas, in the back of the truck.
On top of that, up until he was fired for stealing coins from the cash register of one of the vendors, he used the town truck to commute back and forth to his job as a night guard at the Outlet Mall. He also used the truck to sell firewood at local campgrounds.
Hence, although it will be harder to prove, there is little doubt Reiter stole several hundred more gallons of gas by using the town truck for personal business.
In any event, Reiter says he made restitution of under $1,000 for the over 107 gallons of gas he was caught stealing by the FBI.
He has not yet, however, made restitution for the approximately 1,000 gallons he stole over a year and one half period.
The noose is tightening. Stay tuned.
Dowd's Humongus Legal Bill....
Look out for a whopping $89,000 bill Town Lawyer Michael Dowd dropped on the town at the last work session. Sources say that the Town Council was ready to rubber stamp Dowd's enormous bill, which dropped out of the blue, and was written (literally) on a piece of paper, without one bit of substantiation (no billable hours, no description of legal work, no work product). It is as if Dowd knew Ernie Palmer was about to retire- and needed his vote
We hate to say it, but stay tuned.
|Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr.||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||
Feb 18, 2014