New York Thruway Employees Counsel Charged with $200K+ Theft

new-york-thruway-logoKevin Clor’s intentions may have been good, but members of the union he represented might not be impressed. Clor, formerly general counsel for New York State Thruway Employees Local 72, was indicted in Manhattan state court on January 25 on charges of embezzling more than $211,000 from the Teamsters-affiliated union, which represents some 2,500 toll collectors and other Thruway employees. Working out of his Buffalo home office, the defendant allegedly used his position to generate phony receipts enabling him to receive funds from two separate union accounts. “Instead of representing their best interests, (Clor) now stands accused of violating their trust and using his position to enrich himself illegally,” said District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. Clor has pleaded not guilty and is free on $75,000 bail.

Clor, 40, a graduate of the University of Buffalo School of Law, served as union general counsel from January 5, 2001 to April 21, 2011, representing members at arbitration, grievance and disciplinary hearings. Starting in January 2006, say prosecutors, he ripped the union off. They allege Clor forged around 150 receipts for various activities and submitted them for reimbursement. In all, he received approximately $84,000 from the union’s general fund and $128,000 from its welfare fund. Among fraudulent activities: $23,000 for nonexistent continuing legal education (CLE) classes at a private middle and high school near his home; $48,000 in CLE courses offered by a nonexistent entity, the “Education Certification Department,” presumably operated by the New York Department of Civil Service; $30,000 for CLE classes offered by an accredited foundation which has no record of Clor having enrolled or attended; and $22,000 in bogus receipts for legal reference materials from Thomson Reuters, though the books were not published by the firm.

So did Kevin Clor fabricate these receipts? Prosecutors have no doubt he did. “These receipts were, in fact, fraudulent,” said prosecuting attorney Jose Fanjul. Calling Clor a “pathological liar,” Fanjul noted that Clor this past December, in fact, was set to plead guilty, but rejected a deal that would have resulted in a two-to-six-year prison sentence. Now he faces a three-to-nine-year sentence. Clor’s attorney, Jeremy Saland, counters that the case has been rigged from the start. “This case is filled with misinformation,” remarked Saland, a Manhattan-based defense attorney. “These were legitimate transactions.” He remarked that his client, who has a 9-year-old autistic son and a mother dying of cancer, fabricated receipts only because the union had a needlessly complicated accounting system. “There was no intent to commit a crime,” said Saland. The truth eventually will come out. Clor has a hearing scheduled for March 28.