Ex-ORDA official, accused of credit card misuse, pleads not guilty

Padraig Power allegedly used state-issued cards for bar tabs, say officials

By Pete DeMola

The Olympic Regional Development Authority’s (ORDA) former finance director has pleaded not guilty to charges associated with allegedly using his state-issued credit card to purchase alcohol at local bars and restaurants.

Padraig Power, 34, of Lake Placid, was charged by the state police July 26 with third degree grand larceny, a felony, and official misconduct, a misdemeanor.

The state Inspector General’s Office claims Power “routinely and repeatedly” used his state-issued credit card from March 2013 through March 2017, ultimately racking up $6,300 in personal expenditures, “the majority of which were comprised of alcoholic beverages purchased at restaurants and bars.”

The bar tabs, said Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott, were “exorbitant.”

“Even the most basic guidelines were nothing short of unabashed hubris,” said Leahy Scott, who accused Power of “wanton disregard of the public trust.”

Power appeared in village of Lake Placid Court on Aug. 16 with his counsel, Brett Joshpe and Edward Paltzik of the New York City-based law firm Joshpe Mooney Paltzik.

Following a huddle with Essex County Assistant District Attorney Jamie Martineau, Lake Placid Village Justice David Chapman adjourned Power’s case until Oct. 29.

Joshpe and Paltzik said their client will be vindicated.

”Our client is categorically innocent and is being prosecuted for incurring business expenses that were authorized and approved by his employer,” said Paltzik in a statement. “Notwithstanding the highly prejudicial statements from the Inspector General and District Attorneys’ offices, it remains our hope that the district attorney will recognize these charges should not be pursued. If they are, we will vigorously defend our client’s innocence.”

The Essex County District Attorney’s Office is scheduled to meet with the Inspector General’s Office this week to discuss the case.

“We’re in discussion mode now,” Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague told the Adirondack Explorer on Thursday.

State policy forbids using government-issued cards for personal benefit, according to the inspector general’s office, specifically exempts the purchase of alcoholic beverages as a reimbursable expense.

ORDA also has an internal policy prohibiting employees from consuming alcohol during the performance of their official duties.

The investigation was sparked when ORDA discovered discrepancies in an internal audit and referred them to the Inspector General’s Office.

ORDA, which manages the state’s Olympic assets, including Whiteface and Gore Mountain, pledged to “work with and cooperate fully” with the investigation.

Power left the state agency last year, but officials declined to disclose the specific reasons.

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise quoted ORDA CEO Mike Pratt as saying the state agency was in the process of revising its credit card policy.

“It hasn’t been updated in many, many years,” Pratt said last May.

ORDA spokesman Jon Lundin told The Adirondack Explorer credit card procedures have been since updated, but declined to elaborate.

Lundin referred all personnel-related questions to the state inspector general, but confirmed Power is no longer employed by ORDA.

“This ORDA official’s alleged conduct seemed to derive from a mindset where everybody else’s rules simply did not apply to him,” said Sprague.

 

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