Fired city official suspected of forging documents

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — News 4 is learning new information about why a city official in Lackawanna was abruptly fired from her post.

The city’s former assessor, Debbie Skulski-Wakelam is suspected of forging documentation related to her job.

After the former assessor in Lackawanna was fired from her job earlier this month, News 4 filed a public records request for disciplinary documents and we’ve received a police report in connection to the investigation.

According to the report, three weeks ago, John Gaughan, the attorney for the City of Lackawanna reported to Lackawanna Police of an alleged incident of forgery involving Skulski-Wakelam.

The report says in a meeting with Gaughan and Lackawanna Mayor Annette Iafallo, Skulski-Wakelam at first denied forging a notice and petition of assessor, then said she used an ink pad stamp to imprint the signature. But city officials said that a signature stamp didn’t exist; the report says Skulski-Wakelam admitted to signing a commissioner’s name on the form.

These forms, also called RP-553s, are meant to correct a prior year’s assessment on a home or business.

According to a city spokesperson, multiple instances of the same infraction were found. The police report goes on to say that Skulski-Wakelam was given the option of resigning or being fired and that she told city officials she would not resign, so she was terminated and escorted out of City Hall.

News 4 contacted Skulski-Wakelman for comment but she declined, earlier this month. At this point, the City of Lackawanna is not pursuing criminal charges against the city’s former assessor.

Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.

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