Former Cortland Standard business manager arrested on grand larceny charges

The Cortland Standard building at 110 Main St., Cortland, N.Y., Dec. 7, 2018 (Peter Blanchard/Cortland Voice)

CORTLAND, N.Y. — The former business manager for the Cortland Standard has been arrested on felony charges of grand larceny and falsifying business records, according to the City of Cortland Police Department.

Stephen W. Clark, 52, of Meadow Drive in Homer, was arrested Thursday, according to Lt. Richard Troyer with the Cortland Police Department.

Clark is accused of falsifying business records while working for the newspaper between August 2013 and October 2018, police said in a media release Friday morning.

Cortland Standard Business Manager Patricia M. Walts, who was hired by the newspaper to replace Clark after he was fired, was approached by the newspaper’s president and publisher, Evan Geibel, and asked to verify the newspaper’s quarterly earning against Clark’s unemployment statement, with Geibel feeling that “one quarter was high,” according to court documents obtained by The Cortland Voice.

“I went in the payroll software and discovered that Stephen paid himself more than he should have,” Walts’ statement read.

After investigating further, Walts discovered that Clark had done this many times beginning in October 2013 until July 19, 2018. Walts also learned that Clark was not deducting 50 percent of his monthly health insurance contribution and making payments to his personal credit card account from the Cortland Standard business account beginning in February 2018 through August 2018.

“To date I discovered that Stephen Clark stole $57,449.32 from the Cortland Standard,” Walts’ statement read, though Geibel offered a higher number, saying he believed the theft to be about $59,000.00.

Geibel also offered a statement to police, saying that Clark was fired in August 2018 after being employed by the newspaper “for a number of years.” Geibel said that Clark had “complete control” over the company’s payroll and business checking account while he worked for the newspaper company.

After his termination, Clark applied for unemployment benefits. Geibel reviewed the unemployment documents and saw that Clark’s reported salary varied considerably from month to month, which “set off some alarms.” That’s when Geibel asked Walts to review the documents.

“We engaged the services of a private investigator to corroborate our suspicions and he agreed with our conclusions and that is Stephen Clark had stolen from the company,” Geibel’s statement reads.

Clark was arraigned on the charges and released to appear in Cortland City Court on Jan. 2.