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Former Bennington town clerk to pay restitution for public theft

BENNINGTON – The former clerk of the Wyoming County town of Bennington pleaded guilty to public theft Wednesday, according to the state Comptrollers’ Office.

Tina Metz was ordered to pay restitution of $33,189 for money stolen from town fees and tax payments. She pleaded guilty to official misconduct and third-degree grand larceny, a Class D felony.

If she doesn’t make restitution, she faces from 44 months to 11 years in prison.

An investigation uncovered a $14,000 shortage in town funds. Metz, 55, paid the town $12,000, saying she found the money at her home and in a filing cabinet at work. She continued to take money after the initial investigation.

“The town’s misplaced trust in this clerk enabled her to steal and steal again,” Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said in a statement. “Blind trust in a colleague doesn’t pass for proper oversight in public finance.”

Bennington officials agreed to DiNapoli’s audit recommendations, which include timely deposit of all fees collected.