Indicted Bryan charged for taking over 300 000

Bryan charged for taking over $300,000

RENSSELAERVILLE — Residents of this small, rural town packed Town Hall last night, cramming in doorways and looking through windows, to hear from investigators about a former supervisor stealing from four town institutions.

David R. Bryan, who held leadership roles in the Trinity Church, the library, and two historical societies, stole from all four, according to the Albany County Sheriff’s Department and the Albany County District Attorney’s Office.

His take totals $303,000, and there could be more, said Chief Deputy Craig Apple with the sheriff’s department.
"That’s not an estimate," said Apple. "That’s a fact." Apple could not break down the dollar amounts for each group.

Bryan was indicted yesterday.

Last night, Chief Investigator Chris D’Allesandro with the district attorney’s office and Apple and Investigator Ron Bates with the sheriff’s department updated residents about Bryan’s fate but gave few details about an investigation that is still ongoing.
"He has been indicted," said Apple. "We made a great step forward today," he said.
Residents applauded Bates after Apple identified him as the investigator who "was being very diligent in his job" and discovered a suspicious check.
After the discovery of embezzlement, the amount of money missing "mushroomed and mushroomed," Apple said. "We don’t know if it’s done yet."
Apple said he understands the public’s frustration, that it is "sitting back and not getting any answers," but that it cannot affect investigators’ decision-making.
"At some point, there will be either a plea or a conviction," Apple said. "White collar crimes are very hard," he said, adding that it’s taken "hours and hours" of work by dozens of people and "sifting through documents." He called the investigation "very tedious."
Had investigators stopped in April, when the amount stood at between $50,000 and $70,000, "there would have been grumbling that there was more to it," he said.
"I’m not here to promise you any degree of restitution," said D’Allesandro.
"Maybe there’s a chance for restitution. I don’t know," said Apple.
"We have taken steps to legally prevent the defendant from liquidating any of his assets," said D’Allesandro.

Bryan was charged with three Class C felonies and a Class D felony, said D’Allesandro. A Class C felony is any amount over $50,000; a Class D felony is an amount exceeding $3,000.

The sheriff’s department did not investigate the Abrookin Vo-Tech school in Albany, where Bryan was a house principal. Nor has the sheriff’s department investigated town records dating from 1987 to 1993 when Bryan was supervisor.

Bryan’s sister

Bryan’s sister, Sandra Baitsholts, who owns the Shell Inn on Route 85, spoke out about her brother and to investigators who put a stop to the sale of her business yesterday.
"I do not feel Shell Inn owes anybody in town anything," said Baitsholts.
"We did put a stop to the sale today," said D’Allesandro, adding that a discussion with Baitsholts’s attorney will take place Thursday at 11 a.m.

Baitsholts said Bryan stole $150,000 from her during the first five years her small business was operating, and she spent 11 years paying it back — everything he stole from her, bounced checks, and back taxes. Her brother, she said, hasn’t been involved in the business in the last 11 years and had signed a contract to that effect.
Baitsholts had warned others about her brother’s activity, she said, and "campaigned vigorously" against him when he ran for town supervisor.
"Nobody wanted to listen to me," she said. "So I guess you can see why I’m not too sympathetic in this ordeal except for the fact that you have destroyed my life now.
"If you guys don’t put him in jail, I’m going to want to know the reason why," she said.
"I know his finances. You’re not going to get nothing from him."

Baitsholts uses a wheelchair. She pointed out that she was the only one in the audience using one.
"I’m the only one in this place in a wheelchair. That’s what Shell Inn and David Bryan did to me," she said.
And now"
"We’ll never fully recover from these actions," said one resident.

Another asked if there is a role the community can play.

Residents may send letters of support or victim impact statements to the D.A.’s office, which will be part of the case file, said D’Allesandro.

The next step is the arraignment.

In the case of a plea bargain, which is usually for a reduced charge, the district attorney, David Soares, will seek full restitution, said D’Allesandro. Should Bryan plead guilty to the top charge — a Class C felony — the district attorney is taken out of the equation and the decision is left to a judge. If he plead guilty to the Class C felony, Bryan would only be pleading for one of the three counts, which is punishable by five to 15 years in jail.

Supervisor Jost Nickelsberg recommended the town’s website be used to update residents on the investigation. Apple said the sheriff’s department will also send releases to the media.

Residents wanted to know how much Bryan, if anything, stole from the town during his years as supervisor, what restitution will be made, and where Bryan is located currently.
"He’s home," said his sister.
"We had contact last night with the defendant," said Apple.

Apple and Bates addressed searching town records back to his terms in office.
"There’s been nothing brought to us to investigate," said Apple.
"Is the statute of limitations up"" a resident asked. Bates said the statute can be extended if an official is still in office, but it cannot be extended for Bryan because he is no longer in office.
A resident asked why he stole money. Apple shook his head. D’Allesandro said, "I’ve never met the man."

More Hilltowns News

  • Knox and Berne have each signed an agreement that allows Berne’s dog-control officer, Jody Jansen, to shelter dogs in Knox’s kennel while Berne renovates its own Switzkill Farm kennel. 

  • Berne’s town attorney Javid Afzali informed the town board at its July 22 meeting that the controversial Switzkill Farm property may have been acquired illegally because the 2014 town board did not allow for a permissive referendum following the purchase authorization. Then-supervisor Kevin Crosier tells The Enterprise that no referendum was required.

  • The Berne Town Board voted, with the needed majority of 3, to formalize the town’s planning board, which Councilman Mathew Harris said in May was illegitimate. 

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