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Prosecutor closes Milton supervisor ethics investigation

Prosecutor closes Milton supervisor ethics investigation

A special prosecutor has closed the investigation of Milton town Supervisor Frank Thompson without l

A special prosecutor has closed the investigation of Milton town Supervisor Frank Thompson without lodging any criminal charges after he filed amended town ethics disclosure forms this week.

Special prosecutor Louise K. Sira said there are no other investigations of him under way.

Thompson was under investigation for possibly filing falsified town ethics disclosure forms that did not list his wife’s employer between 2004 and 2011, when she worked for Belmont Management Corp. as part-time manager of a senior citizen housing complex in the town.

On the ethics disclosure forms, Thompson listed his wife’s occupation as “retired,” rather than saying she worked for Belmont Management.

Thompson’s wife, Deborah, has pleaded guilty in Saratoga County Court to stealing more than $30,000 from an elderly nursing home resident she met when the victim lived in Belmont housing, which brought questions about her employment and Thompson’s disclosure forms to light.

Sira, the Fulton County district attorney, acting as a special prosecutor in Saratoga County, this week directed Thompson to file amended ethics disclosure forms, and he did so Thursday.

“Consequently, this investigation is now closed,” Sira said in a prepared statement Friday.

Had Thompson not amended the forms, she said in an interview, the criminal investigation would have continued, with the potential of charges of filing a false statement.

“These are requirements of any elected position,” Sira said.

“The public has a right to know this information.”

Falsely filling out an ethics disclosure form can result in a civil fine of up to $10,000 or a misdemeanor criminal prosecution.

The ethics disclosure form investigation arose from the state police investigation of Deborah Thompson.

She was arrested in April, and in August pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny for stealing more than $30,000 from an elderly woman who lives in the Maplewood Manor nursing home. Thompson met the victim while working for Belmont, and was later appointed the woman’s financial guardian.

Thompson has consistently maintained he and his wife have been estranged for years, and he had no knowledge of her thefts. Sira, who was also special prosecutor in that case, said she found no evidence that Thompson knew about his wife’s actions.

Thompson maintains that the investigation into his ethics forms was politically motivated.

“This was just a head-hunt for me, that’s all,” he said Friday.

Thompson, 64, is currently chairman of the county Board of Supervisors’ Law and Finance Committee and was in line to be chairman of the county board in 2012, but he lost a Republican primary for town supervisor in September to challenger Daniel Lewza. That means his time in office is over Dec. 31, after serving eight years as town supervisor.

Lewza had the backing of powerful county political figures, including county Republican Chairman John F. “Jasper” Nolan.

Sira was investigating the accuracy of Thompson’s ethics forms separately from her investigation into Deborah Thompson’s thefts.

The issue on the ethics forms was that Thompson listed his wife’s occupation as “retired,” when he should have said she worked for Belmont Management. The newly amended forms say she worked for Belmont.

Thompson said it was a part-time job his wife took after retiring from a secretarial position at Empire State College, and he wasn’t aware of it when she started working as a housing manager.

“These ethics forms are so stupid no one knows how to fill them out,” Thompson said.

In response to Thompson’s allegations of a political motivation, Sira said she had no knowledge of local politics. “I investigated because there was a legitimate criminal complaint made,” she said.

She said she reviewed the investigative report prepared by state police Investigator Bruce MacWatters, and separately determined that the town has no contractual relationship with Belmont.

Sira said the Milton ethics disclosure form is like those filled out by elected officials across the state, and Thompson should have been able to fill it out correctly each year. “They’re pretty self-explanatory,” she said. “It says to list spouse’s occupation.”

The object of ethics disclosure is to ensure elected officials and their immediate families don’t have financial interests that create a conflict with official duties.

“In a nutshell, the requirement [of disclosure] comes with the publicly funded position,” Sira said.

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