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Former Hudson River-Black River agency head settles on back vacation pay

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ALBANY — The former executive director of the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District will return $5,000 to settle allegations he benefited inappropriately from the agency’s vacation buy-back policy.

The New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics announced Wednesday that Glenn A. LaFave, the district’s executive director between 2005 and 2010, agreed to pay back the vacation money.

The district accused Mr. LaFave of inappropriately benefiting from its vacation buy-back policy. The settlement covers allegations that Mr. LaFave violated the district’s time and attendance policy and abused its flex-time policy to avoid charging vacation leave when he was not working.

“This former agency executive took advantage of his position to enrich himself,” Commission Executive Director Letizia Tagliafierro said in a press release. “Such conduct is an abuse of the public trust.”

Mr. LaFave, of Brownville, was the subject of a 2011 report by the state inspector general which found he abused vacation time under the lax oversight of the district’s board of directors, among other allegations. For example, he allegedly took numerous vacations between 2006 and 2009 without charging a single hour of vacation leave. The state alleged Mr. LaFave violated his agency’s time and attendance policy and misused its flex-time policy to avoid charging vacation leave and, by doing so, benefited from its vacation buy-back policy.

The report was referred to the commission’s predecessor agency, the Commission on Public Integrity.

Mr. LaFave agreed to the settlement in lieu of receiving a fine for allegedly violating public service law. Despite the agreement, the commission could investigate future alleged violations. He resigned from the state authority just before the announcement of the 2011 report, which alleged he manipulated vacation time to increase paychecks to the tune of $14,000. The report also accused the agency’s board of turning a blind eye to policy loopholes that allowed the payouts.

The authority controls the flow of water on the Hudson and Black rivers from numerous upstate dams and reservoirs.

A former elementary school teacher, Mr. LaFave originally was appointed as a board member to the authority by then-Gov. George E. Pataki in 2000. Mr. LaFave did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

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