Saturday, February 9, 2019

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Former West Hurley fire chief and current commissioner arrested

KINGSTON – The former West Hurley fire chief and current fire commissioner were arrested on Friday for allegedly abusing their authority and costing the district over $30,000 since 2012. The investigation was conducted by the offices of State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Ulster District Attorney Holley Carnright.

David Gutierrez, 52, and Michael “Bucky” VanValkenburgh, 44, both of West Hurley, were charged with corrupting the government and official misconduct. They were both arraigned in Hurley Town Court.

Gutierrez, who stepped down as chief, is still serving as a captain.  VanValkenburgh remains on the board of commissioners of the fire department.

Gutierrez, with the help of VanValkenburgh, allegedly used the fire district water tanker for his wife’s company, Woodstock Landscaping and Excavating. He also allegedly used the tanker to fill ponds, mix concrete and water plants for his wife’s business and used the fire department’s vehicle, gasoline and E-ZPass while traveling statewide to conduct his wife’s business.

VanValkenburgh, who also worked for Woodstock Landscaping and Excavating, allegedly defrauded the district of $20,755.

As the fire district board commissioner, he was barred from receiving any payment from the district. Instead, VanValkenburgh laundered payments through a relative who had a cleaning contract with the fire district.

Hurley Town Supervisor John Perry said the West Hurley Fire District “should not and will not be tarnished by these individuals.” He said the men and women who volunteer as first responders “are some of the best around. We need to look at this as an opportunity to form a renewed bond with the residents and the fire district and this will only better West Hurley as a whole.”

 


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