Firefighter pleads guilty to stealing from department

TUPPER LAKE – A firefighter pleaded guilty Monday to stealing money from the Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department.

Ian P. McLear, 38, pleaded guilty in village court to petit larceny, a class A misdemeanor. He was originally charged in October with two counts of petit larceny.

Assistant Franklin County District Attorney David Hayes said McLear appeared without a lawyer and entered a guilty plea without offering any comments.

“It was quick,” Hayes said.

The case was adjourned for sentencing in April.

When McLear was originally charged, police said he was captain of the TLVFD’s Hose Company 3. He had access to the company’s checking account and took money out totaling $1,400 on two occasions in June and July 2012 to pay attorney and court fees on a personal issue, police said.

Fire Chief Mark Picerno said this morning he didn’t know McLear had entered a guilty plea.

“We didn’t hear anything,” Picerno said. “I guess he’s being a man and standing up for what he did was wrong.”

In mid January, McLear paid the department back the $1,400 he took last year. Picerno said there weren’t any problems caused by the department not having access to the money while it was gone.

Picerno said that since the incidents happened, the fire department has overhauled some of its policies to guard against future theft.

“We have changed some of our procedures concerning tracking money and how it’s deposited and withdrawn,” Picerno said.

The money came out of Company 3’s account, which had always been separate, with some fundraisers held specifically for that company.

“We took over the money from Company 3, and this way it’s all in one,” Picerno said.

The chief is overseeing the accounts with help from the treasurer and assistant chiefs, and the department is going through annual audits with a local certified public accountant.

McLear works as an electrical lineman for the village and is no longer with the fire department.