Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Moose Lodge funds missing

By Bryce T. Hoffman
CORNING The administrator of Corning's Loyal Order of Moose Lodge 274 is accused of cooking the books to conceal more than $100,000 of missing money.
Robert C. Laughlin Sr., of Gang Mills, was charged Wednesday with first-degree falsifying a business record, a class E felony, Corning City Police announced late Friday.
The charge entails filing false financial documents "with the intent to either commit a crime or cover up another crime," said Steuben County Assistant District Attorney Brooks Baker.
Further charges are possible, he said.
"At this point, the money is still missing," he said. "It's very, very early in the process."
Laughlin is the only suspect targeted by the investigation, Baker said.
Corning police began looking into the Moose Lodge's "bell jar" gaming operation about four months ago, according to a press release issued Friday.
The game of chance, commonly known as "pull tabs," is supervised by the New York State Racing & Wagering Board. Investigators from that agency uncovered the accounting discrepancies in September, police said.
This is the second time in five years the Corning Moose Lodge has faced this type of investigation. Former Administrator Martin D. Martini was indicted in 2000 amid accusations that he pilfered $50,000 from the lodge's gambling account.
The exact amount of money missing in the newest case was not released. Laughlin was arraigned in Corning City Court and released pending a future court appearance.
Members of the organization reached Friday outside the Moose Lodge, at 6 Bridge St., declined comment. Laughlin could not be immediately reached for comment.
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