NY state senator calls for resignation of county official after ‘low-show, no-bid’ tech contract

Originally published in StateScoop on .
Aerial shot of Newburgh, a small city in the Hudson River Valley in Orange County, New York on a cloudy autumn afternoon. (Getty Images)

New York state Sen. James Skoufis released a report Monday criticizing Orange County, New York, officials concerning their procurement of an IT service owned and operated by a county official’s family member. The report accuses officials of taking more than $800,000 of taxpayer dollars for the “direct enrichment” of the family of County Human Resources Commissioner Langdon Chapman.

The report, shared with StateScoop, details the New York Senate special committee’s investigation of StarCIO, a company that helps other organizations implement digital services, and is owned by Chapman’s brother-in-law, Isaac Sacolick. Orange County officials awarded StarCIO contracted work for IT services in January.

Skoufiss [sic], in his report, shared recommendations to rectify the oversight, including the immediate resignation of Langdon Chapman, conducting an “outside forensic audit” by the state’s comptroller for all county contracts and the creation of an “Office of County Comptroller.”

The document also details investigative findings, including discrepancies between the testimonies of Chapman and County Executive Steven Neuhaus. It shows they provided different timelines for Chapman communicating to Neuhaus that StarCIO’s president, Isaac Sacolick, is related to him. Additionally, Skoufis said that Chapman omitted whether or not he reached out to appropriate personnel to determine a potential conflict of interest. 

“For an individual who formerly serves as the county’s attorney, Chapman knew, possibly better than anyone, the county’s procurement policies,” Skoufis writes in his report. “He had participated in or witnessed competitive bid processes many times during his long county career. Yet, Chapman and his team violated these same procurement policies at every turn. Further investigation is needed to understand the entirety of this orchestrated plot to enrich Langdon Chapman’s family and rip off Orange County’s taxpayers.”

Chapman was responsible for hiring a CIO, according to Skoufis, and had a “vested interest” in not filling the position, since StarCIO’s scope of work only lasted until the county chose a permanent CIO. Skoufis said that “it is no coincidence that in November 2023, shortly after the scheme was exposed and a commission was impaneled to investigate the matter, a permanent CIO was finally hired.”

Skoufis called for a forensic audit by the state’s comptroller for all county contracts, since “procedural inadequacies” suggest that there may be other instances of fraud, taxpayer abuse and nepotism. 

In his report, Skoufis says “it’s high time Orange County got its house in order to restore the public’s trust” and recommends the county create a comptroller office that would aid neighboring counties from “high-level oversight” of local government’s spending and processes.