OLEAN — A city firefighter has been charged with several felonies for allegedly writing $116,000 in unauthorized checks to himself out of union funds.
The Office of the State Comptroller announced Wednesday afternoon that Olean City Fire Dept. Lt. Terry Gaylor Jr., 41, of Olean, was charged with second-degree grand larceny; two counts of second-degree forgery; and official misconduct, after allegedly writing checks from a union account containing state fire insurance premium tax revenue to pay credit card bills or to himself directly.
“Gaylor betrayed his duty to his community by allegedly stealing funds meant to protect the citizens of Olean to fund his personal business and lifestyle,” Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said. “Now, thanks to my partnership with District Attorney (Lori) Rieman and the New York State Police, he will face the consequences for his actions.”
Gaylor, a former union president and current firefighter with the department, was arrested after a joint investigation by the Comptroller, District Attorney and State Police.
He used more than $50,000 of the funds to pay his personal credit card, DiNapoli said, most of which funded his private HVAC business, Amazon purchases and payments to Verizon Wireless. He also wrote over $65,000 in checks to himself from fire department accounts. Many of the checks also contained forged signatures. Gaylor allegedly deposited these checks into his personal account, which he then used to withdraw cash and pay for personal expenses.
Gaylor is due back in court on Feb. 14.
According to the city's website, Gaylor is attached to Platoon A and joined the department in 2002.
Mayor Bill Aiello reported the funds were not government monies, and Gaylor is on unpaid administrative leave.
"We have no oversight over this fund at all," the mayor said, referring questions to union officials. "The fire department's union has full control... No employee would have the ability to write checks out of city funds like this."
(This story has been updated with comments from Mayor Bill Aiello and to clarify the source of the funds after publication)