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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Check, please


Should Hudson Light & Power dump Citizens Bank after the disappearance of more than 500 checks written by the utility's customers last month?

That question will be debated next week by The Hudson Municipal Light board, the elected body that oversees the utility.

A courier service was taking a pouch filled with the 579 checks as well as cash and other checks from the Pope Street Citizens Bank branch to an unidentified processing center when they were stolen, said Yakov Levin, manager of the Hudson Light & Power Department.

Levin said Hudson Light & Power was notified that the pouch was missing on Sept. 13, one week after the checks were deposited, but did not alert its customers because Citizens Bank said the pouch would likely be found. A letter from the municipal utility went out to customers on Oct. 5 after they were told the pouch was stolen, Levin said.

Levin said a thief cannot cash the stolen checks because all have a stamp on the back which directs they be deposited into the Hudson Light & Power account. A Citizens spokesman, meanwhile, said the bank has found no fraud after monitoring the accounts of affected customers and that local branches have also been directed to refund any stop check fees.

Board will take up the matter at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the department headquarters on Forest Avenue and review the facts surrounding the theft and discuss whether to keep its relationship with Citizens, Levin said.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

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