Felony charges against Amsterdam alderman transferred for possible grand jury action

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FILE - 4th Ward Alderman Stephen Gomula.

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AMSTERDAM — The felony charges against Amsterdam 4th Ward Alderman Stephen Gomula have been transferred to state Superior Court for possible grand jury action.

Gloversville City Court Judge Traci DiMezza on Tuesday divested the case after the special prosecutor assigned out of the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office failed to appear in Amsterdam City Court. It’s unclear if or when prosecutors may convene a grand jury to seek an indictment.

Montgomery County Assistant Public Defender Theodore Hartman, who is representing Gomula, said he was going to request to have the case transferred regardless. Hartman previously waived Gomula’s right to a preliminary felony hearing on the charges against him.

There has been little progress in the criminal matter since illegal weapons were allegedly found in Gomula’s possession in December. Potential conflicts of interest for local officials at every level have required individuals from outside agencies to be brought in to handle the case.

The assignment of then-Schenectady County Assistant District Attorney Eamonn Neary as special prosecutor in February was seemingly the final piece needed to advance proceedings.

However, Neary recently departed from his position. It was later confirmed Gomula’s case has been reassigned to Amy Burock, of the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office, who was prosecuting another felony matter at trial in Schenectady County Court on Tuesday.

Montgomery County District Attorney Lorraine Diamond originally requested the assignment of a special prosecutor due to the past employment of Gomula’s former fiance by her office.

Gomula’s previous employment by the Montgomery County Department of Social Services and his elected office in the city have created further conflicts for local law enforcement officials.

DiMezza is presiding over the case in Amsterdam City Court after Judges Lisa Lorman and William Mycek each recused themselves.

City police allegedly discovered the illegal weapons in Gomula’s possession which prompted the felony charges against him, but referred the investigation to state police.

Gomula, 49, is charged with two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, both class D felonies, for having an assault weapon and a large capacity ammunition feeding device.

State police, in a felony complaint filed in City Court on Dec. 14, alleged that Gomula possessed a 30-round detachable rifle magazine and a .223-caliber Windham Weaponry rifle with a forward hand grip, pistol grip and flash suppressor. Both are illegal to own in New York state.

The charges stem from the earlier recovery of the devices during a call for service after Gomula threatened to end his life with a shotgun on the afternoon of Dec. 10. All of the weapons were confiscated by officers.

Gomula has acknowledged the criminal charges against him are unrelated to the mental-health crisis he experienced that day. He has since sought treatment and publicly disclosed his past diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder from a career in emergency services.

Depending on the outcome of the charges against him, Gomula could be barred from holding elected office. Felony and certain misdemeanor convictions can prevent individuals from holding public office. In the meantime, he will seek re-election in November.

Gomula was previously convicted of second-degree menacing and served 30 days in county jail for pulling out a gun and aiming it at another man during an argument in 2003. He was a Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputy at the time.

Off-duty during the altercation, Gomula displayed his service weapon before eventually lowering the gun while another on-duty officer stood by. The incident resulted in disciplinary proceedings before he ultimately resigned and later pleaded guilty to the menacing charge.

Reach Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.

Categories: -News-, Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News

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