Former Town Clerk Marilyn Y. Wetsel was sentenced to pay $3,500 in restitution for official misconduct concerning the handling of town and state accounts and records for various fees
Wetsel pleaded guilty to the charge Jan. 28, according to Schoharie County Assistant District Attorney Thomas F. Garner.
Wetsel was sentenced Monday by Schoharie Town Justice Kenneth C. Knutson. The case had been moved to the Schoharie court after Wright justices recused themselves, according to officials.
Wetsel, 63, resigned from her elected position in October 2006, following a town-hired auditor’s report that found inadequate bookkeeping and funds not properly accounted for. After an investigation by state police and District Attorney James Sacket, Wetsel was charged with the class A misdemeanor by state police last August.
Wetsel declined to comment on the case or her sentence Tuesday.
Previously, she had insisted that she took no money and blamed the problems on poor bookkeeping.
Accounts involved included those used to deposit fees for use at the town’s trash transfer station, as well as state hunting and fishing license fees, most of which are supposed to be sent to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
A breakdown of restitution money distribution was unclear Tuesday.
According to Garner, the money was held in an escrow account of Wetsel’s Schenectady attorney, Sven R. Paul, pending sentencing.
Paul could not be reached Tuesday.
The restitution funds, which are routinely administered by the county Probation Department, are expected to be handed over to town of Wright officials for their distribution, Garner said.
Told about Wetsel’s sentence Tuesday, Wright Supervisor Susan Loden said she was uncertain how the restitution money would be disbursed, pending discussions with the district attorney or probation officials.
“I’m just glad that it’s come to a resolution and it’s something that we can put behind us,” Loden said.
The official misconduct charge carried the potential of up to a year in jail. Her conviction also bars Wetsel from holding elective office, according to Sacket.
Wetsel’s sentencing agreement also includes a one-year conditional discharge and unsupervised probation. That generally means that if Wetsel avoids legal trouble for one year, the charge will be dismissed.
Former town Councilman William Goblet, who called for the audit after he said town residents alleged that the same transfer station tickets were being sold twice, said Tuesday that “[Wetsel] is taking the fall for everybody else.”
Goblet has insisted that Loden had also been aware of late of inadequate clerk records, but didn’t take action.
Loden has denied doing anything wrong, saying previously that Goblet and Town Board members saw the same reports and information.
Goblet, a Republican, opposed Loden, a Democrat, for supervisor last November. Loden defeated Goblet, 362-348, in results that were delayed until absentee ballots were counted.
Noting that a county grand jury had been scheduled and witnesses, including Loden, were scheduled to testify, Goblet faulted Sacket Tuesday.
“He promised me faithfully that he wouldn’t sweep this under the rug and he did,” said Goblet, a retired state police investigator.
“I’m glad what’s done is done,” Goblet said. “The big failure is the DA didn’t do his job.”
Sacket couldn’t be reached Tuesday to respond, but he said Monday that the record keeping made the case difficult.
“Based upon the state police investigation, we felt the only viable charge was official misconduct,” Sacket said. “The problem was that proving criminal intent was a major stumbling block.”
After Wetsel resigned, the Wright Town Board appointed John Sanchirico as town clerk until last November’s general election. Sanchirico was elected to the Town Board in November, while his wife, Kirsten Sanchirico, was elected town clerk. Both are Democrats.
Wetsel was in the first year of her fourth two-year term when she resigned in 2006. A Democrat, Wetsel was last re-elected in November 2005 with about 64 percent of the vote.
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Categories: Schenectady County