The former secretary to the Niagara Falls City Council has been charged for an attempt to pad his final government paycheck.
Mark Diodate faces multiple charges, including three felonies, for using a work computer to log into the city's payroll system and add unworked hours to his final week of work.
Niagara Falls Police Superintendent Thomas Licata confirmed Diodate's arrest. He said Diodate surrendered to police detectives on Wednesday and was taken into custody.
The Niagara County District Attorney's Office confirmed that Diodate was later arraigned in Niagara Falls City Court where he pleaded not guilty to one count of first degree falsifying businesses records, a felony; one count of computer trespass, a felony; one count of third degree tampering with a computer, a felony; and one count of attempted petit larceny, a misdemeanor.
District Attorney Caroline Wojtaszek said Diodate had given city hall two-weeks notice of his intention to leave his position, but returned to work after hours in an effort to manipulate his pay.
"He was accused of coming into city hall after hours, logging onto a city computer and adding additional hours to his payroll record in order to increase his final paycheck," Wojtaszek said.
Diodate referred questions to his attorney, Herbert Greenman, who was not immediately available for comment.
City Administrator Nick Melson said he could not comment on "personnel matters" but confirmed that, as of Aug. 9, Diodate was no longer employed by the city.
Diodate served in the secretary position since January of last year. He was appointed in a 4-to-1 vote amid some controversy concerning his resume, which included what multiple city council members characterized as "discrepancies."
Diodate's former employer, Jerry Puleo of Tropical Heating and Cooling, subsequently called out Diodate's description of his time at the company as a sales and managing partner. In a letter he made public, Puleo called Diodate's characterization "inaccurate and deceitful" and demanded a public apology.
Diodate refused to comment on the accusations at the time, said he was hiring outside legal counsel and declined to provide a reporter with the name of the attorney. He continued to serve in his position without incident and the matter faded from public attention.
Diodate said he had returned to the city with a desire for public service after working in the private sector. He was on pace to make $37,647 this year, according to public payroll data.
"I want to help my city out," he said in the lead up to his appointment.
At the time of his arrest, Diodate was under consideration for a position in the Niagara Falls City School District.
Board of education members were scheduled to vote on Diodate's appointment to a district position on Thursday, according to Superintendent Mark Laurrie. On Wednesday, Laurrie indicated that Diodate was no longer being considered for the open job. He declined to comment on why Diodate's candidacy was withdrawn.
City Council Chairman Andrew Touma also declined comment, saying he and his colleagues were advised against speaking about the ongoing legal matter by the city attorneys.
Touma said there are no immediate plans to replace the secretary position, a consensus decision among lawmakers.