Thomas Ruchlicki, a former member of the Town of Halfmoon Planning Board who last year pleaded guilty to felony charges that he lied to FBI agents about receiving payments from a well-known area developer, was sentenced to one year of probation, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.
Senior U.S. District Judge Lawrence E. Kahn also ordered Rucklicki to pay a $3,000 fine and perform 50 hours of community service. Rucklicki faced up to five years in prison on the charges.
The case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Belliss. An attorney listed for Ruchlicki could not be reached on Wednesday.
According to court documents, between June 5, 2015, and Sept. 1, 2017, Ruchlicki, 63, who resigned from the planning board last year prior to his plea, received 26 payments totaling at least $85,800 via checks from the owner of a property construction and development company that was not named in the U.S. District Court case.
Many of the checks were for $2,500, according to court documents. The smallest was for $500, and the largest was for $25,000. Ruchlicki, who was a member of the planning board for 15 years, deposited the checks into his bank account, according to the court documents.
The payments were received while the developer had business before the planning board, prosecutors said, and Ruchlicki did not abstain from taking action on the developer’s projects.
As part of the investigation, FBI agents approached Ruchlicki on Jan. 3 at his office in Albany County to interview him. During that interview, according to the court documents, Ruchlicki claimed he did not have any financial dealings with the developer.
Upon being confronted with bank statements that showed the payments, he claimed the developer was in the process of purchasing one of his old vehicles.
Ruchlicki later admitted the developer had instructed him to lie about the payments if he was questioned by investigators.