BEMUS POINT, N.Y. (WIVB) — A former member of the Bemus Point village government has admitted to stealing tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money.

Between 2015 and 2020, the New York State Office of the Comptroller says Jennifer Jaeger, who was serving as Bemus Point’s clerk-treasurer, took more than $58,000 for herself.

New York State says she did this by using the forged signatures of others and having village officials sign blank checks. Jaeger proceeded to cash these checks, putting the money in her own pocket.

When her arrest was initially announced back in February, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said Jaeger had been using the money to buy Christmas gifts, as well as pay car and phone bills.

“Jaeger disregarded the distinction between public funds and her own pocketbook,” DiNapoli, who noted that the stolen funds have since been recovered, said.

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Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt, too, had strong words condemning Jaeger’s actions.

“This is not a victimless crime,” he said. “The Village of Bemus Point, like many of our local municipalities here in Chautauqua County, is engaged in an every-day battle to service its residents with precious little money. Every dollar stolen is a dollar not spent on the community.”

Although initially charged with grand larceny, forgery, falsifying business records and official misconduct, Jaeger was able to plea to a lesser charge of petit larceny while in Town of Ellery Court. But Schmidt says that plea came with a special condition — “full repayment up front.”

“This is the only reason why a reduction in the charge was put on the table, to guarantee that Bemus Point gets all its money back now, and in one shot, rather than face the uncertainty of pursuing repayment through the civil judgment enforcement mechanisms available under the law,” Schmidt says. “This was our number one concern.” 

As a result of her admission to the misdemeanor charge, Jaeger did not receive time behind bars.

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.