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College safety officer allegedly stole money, safe (update)

July 27, 2012
By CHRIS MORRIS - Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

A campus safety officer at Paul Smith's College allegedly stole money from a safe at the Visitors Interpretive Center, then tried to dispose of the safe to cover up the crime.

State police arrested Christopher D.W. Heffernan, 23, of Saranac, at 9 p.m. Thursday and charged him with one count of third-degree burglary, a class D felony, and two counts of petit larceny, a class A misdemeanor.

State police Investigator Jonathan Garrow said Heffernan first stole money from a donation box at the VIC on or around July 1. That crime wasn't reported, although the Adirondack Park Institute, a support group that provides funding for programs at the VIC, was aware the money had been taken. Garrow said Heffernan "basically confessed" to taking the money.

Then, on July 22, Heffernan allegedly located a safe in the VIC's main office and removed $400 to $500 from it. Garrow said shortly after Heffernan took the money he removed the safe to conceal the crime.

"He removed it, transported it in a campus safety vehicle, took it down Keesemills Road and disposed of it on Paul Smith's property in a pond," Garrow said.

The safe has since been recovered, but Garrow said Heffernan had already spent the money. He was located at the college's campus safety office, where he worked, and taken to the state police barracks in Ray Brook for questioning.

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Garrow said he was "very cooperative" and gave a detailed written statement.

"He cited a lapse of judgement and attributed his behavior to economic hard times, family responsibilities, (and) gas money to and from work," Garrow said.

Heffernan is no longer employed by the college, according to Communications Coordinator Bob Bennett.

Heffernan was processed by police and arraigned in Brighton town court. He was released on his own recognizance to the supervision of Franklin County Probation and scheduled to reappear in court at 7 p.m. Aug. 8.



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