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The state inspector general's office has advised the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to tighten its check-issuing procedures after a check for nearly $39,000 was cashed by the wrong person earlier this year.

Though allegations of impropriety accompanied the original complaint to the inspector general, the report indicated only that foul-ups in procedure were involved in a legal settlement with Karamanos-Harbor Inc., former operators of the Wharf restaurant at the Small Boat Harbor.

The report noted the proper legal review and other internal procedures did not accompany the issuance of the check, which constituted a buyout from the Karamanos contract with the NFTA as operator of the Small Boat Harbor restaurant. NFTA officials said the mix-up resulted in the check being cashed by Brent Karamanos, who received the check but was no longer associated with the firm.

The report said the problem occurred when accounting personnel issued the check while NFTA lawyers still were discussing the settlement with the company.

Executive Director Richard T. Swist said the mix-up did not cost the authority any money, since only one check was issued.

A mix-up also occurred at Norstar Bank, he said, which cashed the check for Brent Karamanos with only his endorsement -- rather than others also needed from the Karamanos firm. As a result, Swist said the problem of settling the matter rests with Norstar.

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