SOARES AIDE PUT ON PAID SUSPENSION

Richard Arthur had been criticized in audit of the office's petty cash fund

ROBERT GAVIN STAFF WRITER
Section: Capital Region,  Page: B1

Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2009

ALBANY -- A top aide to District Attorney David Soares who fell under scathing criticism in a county audit last summer now has been suspended.


Richard Arthur, the district attorney's director of administration, was placed on paid suspension on April 3, said Mary Duryea, a spokeswoman for Albany County Executive Mike Breslin.


Details of the suspension or why the action was taken were not immediately available.


Heather Orth, a spokeswoman for Soares, refused comment when contacted Tuesday morning, saying "we're not going to discuss any personnel matters." Soares has commented on at least two occasions when prosecutors were fired from his staff in recent years.


Arthur initially was Soares' media spokesperson, a role since taken over by Orth.


A county audit by County Comptroller Michael Conners found Arthur displayed a "total disregard for fiscal management" while operating the district attorney office's petty cash fund.


The audit found more than $351,000 was placed into a petty cash fund not supposed to exceed $5,000. And it found the work of Arthur "could jeopardize the overall mission" of the district attorney's office.


At the time of the July audit, Conners suggested the Albany County Legislature suspend the petty cash account "until someone capable of administering this account is in place."


He also suggested Arthur no longer handle the books, saying Soares should consider "replacing, removing or transferring" him.


Arthur could not be immediately reached.


At the time of the audit, Soares issued a statement saying he agreed with certain portions of the audit, but not others. He took responsibility in the statement for the "goings on in my office."


He soon called in a team of experts to examine "accounting issues."


Robert Gavin can be reached at 434-2403 or by e-mail at rgavin@timesunion.com