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What you need to know for 10/19/2017

Saratoga County Democratic official asks for probe of GOP judge

Saratoga County Democratic official asks for probe of GOP judge

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been asked to look into allegations that state Supreme

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been asked to look into allegations that state Supreme Court Judge Robert J. Chauvin engaged in unlawful or unethical conduct while serving as Halfmoon town attorney and a part-time assistant district attorney in the Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office.

The request was made by Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III on behalf of Todd Kerner, chairman of the Saratoga County Democratic Committee. Kerner asked for a criminal investigation following the publication of a Times Union story that alleged Chauvin, while working for Halfmoon and the district attorney’s office, took steps to conceal his financial interests in housing developments.

“Based upon the admissions, comments and allegations in the article with respect to the actions mentioned, a criminal investigation seems appropriate,” Kerner wrote in an Aug. 15 email to Murphy

Chauvin, a Republican, served as Halfmoon town attorney for more than two decades and worked part-time in the Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office for almost 30 years. He began serving in the state Supreme Court’s Fourth Judicial District in 2011.

Kerner, who first called for an investigation into Chauvin on the Saratoga County Democratic Committee’s Facebook page, said Thursday the request isn’t about party politics. He said the stories about Chauvin and court documents in a lawsuit filed against Chauvin by a former business partner prompted him to make the request.

“I can’t see how the [Attorney General’s] office doesn’t do anything,” Kerner said.

A spokesman for Schneiderman confirmed their office received the letter from Murphy, but declined to comment on whether an investigation was under way.

Murphy couldn’t follow up on Kerner’s request himself because Murphy and Chauvin worked together for about 22 years in the Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office.

“I respectfully request that your office look into the allegations made by Mr. Kerner in light of my conflict and the conflict of the other prosecutors in the Fourth Judicial District,” Murphy wrote to Schneiderman in an Aug. 15 letter.

In a written response to Kerner, Murphy noted other district attorneys in the Fourth Judicial District couldn’t be brought in to serve as special prosecutors because they likely would have had contact with Chauvin that would require them to recuse themselves.

Murphy declined to comment on the possibility of an investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office or on Kerner’s request.

Regarding Chauvin’s private land deals, which were reported on by the Times Union, Murphy said he never had knowledge about this part of Chauvin’s life.

“It wasn’t of any interest to me,” Murphy said. “I talked to him about the criminal cases he had.”

Chauvin did not return a call for comment Thursday.

In February, a state appellate court sided with Chauvin’s former business partner, Gregory Mills, in a 2008 lawsuit initiated after the partners split. Based on documents from the suit Kerner reviewed, he said, “I don’t know how [Chauvin] can remain a sitting judge.”

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