Schenectady County

Rotterdam clerk admits breaking notary law

Longtime Clerk Eunice Esposito said she expects to lose her notary public license because she knowin

Longtime Clerk Eunice Esposito said she expects to lose her notary public license because she knowingly notarized documents without having people sign them in front of her, as required by law.

She said she had no intent to defraud the town but performed the duty as a courtesy to senior citizens seeking exemptions from the School Tax Relief (STAR) program.

Esposito is scheduled to appear before a hearing in early March at the state Department of State to determine if she should have her notary public license suspended or revoked.

State Department spokesman Joel Barkin confirmed that an investigation was launched into an allegation against the 83-year-old clerk. He declined to discuss the charge in detail but said it involved notary fraud.

“We determined there was sufficient evidence for a hearing,” he said Friday.

Esposito said Friday night she knew what she did was wrong. “I know the law says I have to see them physically sign it, but when people told me they can’t or are crippled and I know them, I would do it,” she said.

Esposito said she only notarized documents for people whose signatures she recognized from years of services and whom she knew lived in the properties seeking STAR exemptions. She added that she did not notarize documents for strangers.

“I know it is their signature. It is not the first time,” she said. “There is no fraud, no intention to circumvent the law. These are political and personal attacks against me,” she said.

If the state wants to take her license away, Esposito said, “that’s fine. It is a lot of work for me. I was trying to make it easier, but I am sick and tired of bureaucracy and government.”

Rotterdam officials said Esposito will be represented at the hearing by Andy Brick, the former town attorney. He could not be reached for comment Friday.

Sole Republican Town Board member Gerard Parisi, who served as the town’s privately contracted attorney under Republican Steve Tommasone’s administration, said he received a complaint about Esposito last year and turned the information over to the State Department’s licensing division. He said he took no position on the matter and has played no role in the state’s investigation.

“I can confirm that the complaint I received was that she was notarizing the signature of an individual who was deceased,” he said in an e-mail correspondence. Esposito denied this allegation.

The complaint and subsequent scheduling of a hearing caused one town official to bristle. Board member Nicola DiLeva said she reviewed the complaint and it appears to be another political attack by Parisi.

“The loan complainant was the town attorney at the time,” she said, referring to Parisi. “To me, this is just another attempt by the previous administration and spearheaded by [Parisi] to make her look bad.”

Esposito won an unprecedented 11th term in office last November, handily defeating Republican challenger Lynn Fiorillo by more than 800 votes. Her 4,247 votes were the most of any candidate running in a contested town race.

Town Attorney Joseph Liccardi declined to discuss the charge against Esposito. He did claim that the error did not result in “one cent of damage or injury to the town of Rotterdam.”

“We’re not going to get into the specifics of it,” he said.

DiLeva characterized the complaint as minor. She said it was an infraction that clearly could have been rectified at the town level without involving the state.

“This is a desperate attempt at destroying whatever we’re building here,” she said.

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