Former County Executive Debbie Preston charged with official mis - Binghamton-area News, Weather, Sports

Former County Executive Debbie Preston charged with official misconduct

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(WBNG) -- Former Broome County Executive Debbie Preston is facing charges after an investigation by a special prosecutor.

According to Schuyler County District Attorney Joseph Fazzary, Preston is facing three charges of official misconduct. All three counts carry a maximum penalty of one year in jail.

Fazzary was assigned as special prosecutors in “any investigation, charge and subsequent prosecution in the matter of Debra Preston,” according to a letter from Judge Fitzgerald.

Back in October, Preston admitted she took out a credit card with her name and the Town of Conklin listed on it in 2011 when she was a town supervisor. Preston said she took out a card through Sam's Club. She says she used it for personal reasons after the flood of 2011 and after racking up a significant amount of debt, she paid off the card in 2012 after being contacted by the Town of Conklin.

Fazzary alleges Preston's misconduct with the card dates back to 2005.

During a news conference in October, Preston said she did not believe she committed any criminal act or did anything wrong.

Credit card statements acquired by 12 News show the card had balances dating back to July 2011. The flood occurred in early September.

According to emails obtained by 12 News through a Freedom of Information Law request, the Town of Conklin became aware of the credit card and Preston's use of it in on April 18, 2012. That day, Conklin Secretary to the Supervisor Lisa Houston emailed Mark Gorgos, the attorney for the Town of Conklin, stating the card was not on the books and Preston needed to stop using the card, pay it off and close the account. Former Town of Conklin Supervisor Jim Finch says the first time he became aware of the card was April 18, 2012.

The account was not closed in April. Statements from the account show purchases were made throughout May 2012. Purchases were made at Talbots, Weis Market, Boscov's, DressBarn and other locations. A $14,500 payment was also made, records show. Gorgos said in emails to Houston that Preston informed him she was working to pay off the remaining debt.

On June 7, 2012, Houston and Gorgos exchanged emails saying the account was payed off and closed. Just six days prior, the account balanced showed $6,783.59 was still owed on the card, meaning it was payed at some point between June 1 and June 7. Preston said back in October no taxpayer money was used and she paid back the card with her own money.

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