After nearly two years, the Association of Classified Employees’ former treasurer Carol Hovanes pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor count of theft.
Hovanes, 59, of New Middletown, was convicted of misappropriating roughly $13,000 of ACE funds, but an audit conducted by the union later revealed that nearly $17,000 could have been disbursed by the then-treasurer.
Hovanes, who still retains her position at the Maag Library circulation desk, refused to comment.
Bob Bush, assistant county prosecutor, took the smaller amount because the larger figure came too late, and Hovanes may not have made those transactions.
“Our position was, because this lady [Hovanes] came forward, gave everything, gave a number to the union, that was the number we used. Then they went ahead and did an audit,” Bush said.
Attorney Ira Mirkin, ACE’s legal representation, began seeking damages on behalf of the union in July 2010. Hovanes’ attorney, David Mascio, said his client has repaid $9,928.42 and believed she “had paid full restitution.”
“We’re seeing a fair and equitable solution,” Mascio said. He did not want to comment on future repayments to cover the remaining discrepancy, as a civil suit is ongoing.
Bush was quoted in the Vindicator on Wednesday, saying that the ACE union was uncooperative in the investigation.
“The notion that they weren’t cooperative is complete and utter nonsense,” Mirkin said.
Certified mail sent by Mirkin indicated communication, not responded to by Bush, from as early as July 2010.
“I personally delivered, to [Bush], 3,400 personal records, if that’s what you call a failure to cooperate,” Mirkin said. “I don’t know where this is coming from.”
“The documents that Mr. Mirkin provided us was the result of a grand jury subpoena, and all files were in relation to Ms. Hovanes,” Bush said. “We were looking for other people of interest. They were not in the file.”
Mirkin requested notification of any hearing, yet was not informed of Hovanes entering a plea agreement process.
“Despite the requirements, … my client had received no prior notice of charges against Ms. Hovanes or any potential plea agreement,” Mirkin’s letter stated.
Mirkin said ACE would object to any plea agreement, which didn’t include restitution from Hovanes, and intended to object during Hovanes’ plea hearing. He was not notified of the proceeding until after it happened.
“I find out yesterday afternoon for the first time there was a court hearing,” Mirkin said.
Bush said Mirkin was not notified about the hearing because he was not listed as a victim in the case docket.
“I don’t think the union is in that file as a victim because they did not cooperate,” Bush said.
Although Hovanes is still employed by the university, the human resources department is evaluating possible punishment.
“Once HR is fully informed of the circumstances surrounding this situation, it will assess the situation in the context of rules and procedures already in place and make a determination at that time what, if any, actions need to be taken,” Kevin Reynolds, chief human resources officer, said in an email.
Judge John M. Durkin will sentence Hovanes on March 29. Bush said probation for Hovanes is likely.
Bush said Mirkin would be able to voice his objection to a plea deal without restitution at the sentencing.
“You can bet he’ll be there, and the court will hear what he has to say about this restitution issue,” Bush said.