HEMPSTEAD, Nassau County (WABC) -- A Hempstead Village police officer and former Hempstead volunteer firefighter has been arrested after authorities say he forged a letter of recommendation in his police department application and stole $6,500 from the fire department.
Randy Stith, 27, was arraigned Wednesday on charges of grand larceny, falsifying business records and official misconduct. He pleaded not guilty.
Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said from February 2015 to January 2018, while Stith was serving as treasurer for the Hempstead Volunteer Fire Department, he allegedly made 12 unauthorized cash withdrawals from the department's bank account. Singas said Stith allegedly filed a false financial statement in order to cover up the withdrawals.
"This defendant's alleged theft of funds that were intended to buy emergency equipment and support the lifesaving work of volunteer firefighters is an outrageous betrayal of the trust placed in him as treasurer," Singas said.
Singas said Stith also cashed a cruise refund check that was supposed to go back to the department. The fire department had paid for a Carnival Cruise vacation for five of its members but was issued a refund for the taxes charged when the cruise was canceled.
Stith's attorney said he believes his client will be cleared of all charges because the allegations are false and stem from a dispute between Stith and some members of the fire department.
"We believe that the complaint and the DA's case was generated by people in the firehouse who have differences and are different sides of the road than Mr. Stith," attorney Joseph Conway said. "And at the proper time, we'll explore that and bring the evidence we have to the court that I believe will exonerate Mr. Stith."
Prosecutors said in 2015, Stith submitted a forged recommendation letter to the Nassau County Civil Service Commission for his police department application. Two months earlier, Stith's application had been denied. Stith, according to prosecutors, allegedly forged a letter purporting to be signed by another member of the fire department. Stith was sworn in as a police officer June 8, 2017.
Conway said Stith resigned from the fire department a few months ago, but Singas said he was terminated by the department on January 31. He's been suspended with pay from the police department. He is also a member of the Hempstead school board and maintains his trustee seat despite the allegations.
The Hempstead School District released the following statement: "Hempstead School Board Member Randy Stith is someone who has given years to public service and deserves the benefit of the doubt. However, these are very serious allegations and if the charges are proven true, then the School District and School Board will have to address it immediately."
Stith was released Wednesday on his own recognizance.
* More Long Island news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
Long Island police officer, firefighter accused of stealing thousands from department