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Cops: NY couple stole $1.9M from Vassar College

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April 5, 2011 11:40 AM EST | AP

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POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — Fancy cars and watches along with unregistered guns and fake IDs were seized at the suburban New York City home of a couple accused of stealing nearly $2 million from Vassar College, a 150-year-old liberal arts school in the mid-Hudson Valley, authorities said Monday.

Arthur Fisher, 44, and his wife Jennifer Fisher, 38, of Ossining were arrested Friday after investigators determined $1.9 million had been embezzled from the capital spending account at Vassar, where Fisher worked as a construction project manager from 2005 until December, town of Poughkeepsie Police Capt. Paul Lecomte told the Poughkeepsie Journal.

Lecomte said the couple set up a fictitious construction company and funneled the money into its bank account.

Vassar spokesman Jeff Kosmacher told the newspaper the scheme unraveled when financial irregularities discovered during a review of a project overseen by Fisher led to other questions and the police were brought in. He declined to comment on how Fisher, who had indirect access to the account, tapped the money. But he said steps have been taken prevent a repeat of the thefts.

Police searched the couple's Westchester County home after their arrests and seized four late-model BMWs, three Rolex watches valued at $50,000, 10 unregistered handguns, a military-style rifle and a number of bogus law enforcement identification papers bearing Arthur Fisher's name and photo, Lecomte said. The IDs included the FBI, the New York City Police Department and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Investigators also found replica FBI, NYPD, U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration badges.

The Fishers were arraigned Monday on a charge of first-degree grand larceny and did not enter pleas. The Dutchess County District Attorney's office is expected to present the case to a grand jury next week. A phone number listed for the couple rang busy Tuesday morning. Arthur Fisher's lawyer did not immediately return a call Tuesday and the name of Jennifer Fisher's lawyer was not available.

The college about 70 miles north of New York City has about 2,400 students and is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. Famous alumni include actors Meryl Streep and Lisa Kudrow, and writer Edna St. Vincent Millay.