Former State Fair director charged with larceny, fraud

Peter Cappuccilli, Jr. / photo: AG's Office

A former director of the New York State Fair has been arrested, accused of using his position to secure favors for personal financial gain.

The State Attorney General TMs Office announced Monday afternoon that Peter Cappuccilli, Jr. of Syracuse faces charges of grand larceny, defrauding the government, and official misconduct. The AG TMs Office says Cappuccilli exploited his position as the State Fair TMs director for personal gain and perks during his tenure from 1995-2005. As Fair director, Cappuccilli was an employee of the State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

According to the complaint, Peter Cappuccilli abused his government position and misused taxpayer resources to benefit himself and his family, said Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in a statement to the media. The Fair is an upstate economic engine and an important cultural outlet that is intended to serve all New Yorkers. As today TMs actions show, we will not tolerate the graft and backroom deals that have corrupted this proud institution.

According to the AG TMs Office, the Fair brings in more than $16 million per year during its twelve day run in late August and early September. Cappucilli is accused of exploited his position to obtain personal benefits, including hosting weddings for two daughters at the Fairgrounds for substantially less than fair market value, overseeing extra benefits for the wedding caterer, and overseeing parties on Fair property for hundreds of people using the same caterer at a significant discount.

Cappuccilli surrendered at the State Police barracks in Syracuse and was released on his own recognizance after an arraignment in Geddes Town Court. The felony charge of third degree grand larceny carries a maximum sentence of up to seven years in prison if found guilty.

Reached by phone, Cappuccilli told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon, "I have no comment right now." Cappuccilli referred Kenyon to his attorney, Emil Rossi. Rossi would only confirm the arrest and pointed out that a grand jury has not yet heard the case. "The charges are not indicted," Rossi said. "We are reviewing the felony complaint."

Current State Fair Director Dan O'Hara issued a response to the AG's Office report Monday afternoon. In the statement, he says:

We welcomed Attorney General Andrew Cuomo TMs review of past and current policies at the State Fair. Over the past few years, the Fair has taken significant steps toward improving its policies. We share the Governor-elect TMs goal of making all operations at the State Fair transparent and accountable, and look forward to working with the new Governor to implement his recommendations.

Click here to read the complete felony complaint against Cappuccilli.

In the interest of full disclosure, Cappuccilli is an independent contractor for Barrington Broadcasting, which owns His capacity involves sales and marketing consultation and is in no way connected to the news department.