Schenectady County

Former assemblyman facing sex charges

A state parole board member who served 20 years in the Legislature appeared in court Tuesday on a fe

A state parole board member who served 20 years in the Legislature appeared in court Tuesday on a federal charge that he used the Internet to solicit sex with minors.

Chris Ortloff, 61, was arrested in a state police sting at a motel in Colonie, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Spina.

Spina said Ortloff repeatedly e-mailed what he believed to be 11- and 12-year-old sisters since June and tried to arrange a meeting to have sex with them.

“This was an undercover operation. There were no real minors,” Spina said.

According to a state police criminal complaint, Ortloff used a webcam to discuss the rendezvous and brought condoms, lubricants, vibrators and a camera to the motel where he was arrested Monday.

Ortloff, wearing a yellow jail jumpsuit and handcuffs in court, heard the criminal complaint against him but didn’t enter a plea.

He declined to comment as he left court. His lawyer, Andrew Safranco, said Ortloff presented no danger to the community and should be freed on bail.

Ortloff was returned to Albany County Jail and scheduled to return to court today for a bail hearing.

Spina asked the judge to postpone the bail hearing until today so investigators could review any evidence found in searches at Ortloff’s home, parole office, a real estate office in Lake Placid where he works, his car and the motel.

He could face 10 years to life in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

A Republican from Plattsburgh, Ortloff represented the North Country’s 110th Assembly District from 1986 until 2006, when then-Gov. George Pataki appointed him to a six-year term on the parole board. The board’s members, who decide whether state prisoners are released on parole, are paid $101,600 a year.

“The matter is presently under investigation,” said Heather Groll, a spokeswoman for the state Division of Parole. “Effective immediately, Commissioner Ortloff has been temporarily relieved of his parole board duties. His status as a parole board member is currently under review,” she said.

Groll said the board was also reviewing whether Ortloff will continue to be paid.

WPTZ in Plattsburgh said the Lake Placid native, the married father of two adult sons, was its broadcast news anchor and reporter from 1981 to 1985. He is also the author of the book “A Lady In The Lake” about the mysterious death of Mabel Smith Douglass in Lake Placid.

Ortloff had been assistant Assembly minority leader and chaired the Clinton County Republican Committee.

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