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What you need to know for 07/23/2017

Wormuth resigns, citing health

Wormuth resigns, citing health

After months of holding her critics at bay, embattled Republican Supervisor Melinda "Mindy" Wormuth

After months of holding her critics at bay and facing a number of criminal charges, embattled town Supervisor Melinda “Mindy” Wormuth resigned her post effective today.

The 46-year-old, three-term Republican cited her ongoing medical leave as her main reason for ending her term 39 days before she is due to leave office. Wormuth’s letter of resignation doesn’t mention the allegations of grand larceny she faces in state court or the corruption indictment against her in federal court.

“To assure business, function and operation of the town’s government will not be impaired by my medically necessary absence and to assure the board will continue to serve our town without distraction, I am formally resigning my position as supervisor of the town of Halfmoon effective Saturday,” she stated in a letter dated Tuesday and received by the town clerk’s office Thursday.

Wormuth’s letter

To view Mindy Wormuth's letter of resignation, click HERE.

Wormuth started her medical leave of absence from town office in mid-September and extended it for another 30 days last month. E. Stewart Jones, Wormuth’s defense attorney, said his client extended the leave again until Dec. 20, meaning she would have only 11 days left in office.

“There would be little point in her continuing on given her medical absence,” he said, declining to discuss what medical condition led to the leave.

Wormuth was slated to leave office on New Year’s Day anyway, after failing to receive an endorsement from her party in April and then subsequently deciding against seeking another term. She will eventually be replaced by Kevin Tollison, the former Republican town justice who ran unopposed for her position earlier this month.

Wormuth, who was paid $48,000 as the town’s top executive and an additional $17,000 for her spot on the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, has faced a growing chorus of criticism for her business dealings in recent years. In particular, she’s come under fire for her close ties to local developers who have contributed to her campaign committee.

Wormuth was already under federal scrutiny for alleged influence peddling last summer, when she admitted to cashing thousands of dollars in checks for her campaign fund without accounting for the money. State investigators later determined she misused $6,250 in contributions after losing the Republican endorsement to Tollison in April.

Meanwhile, federal investigators determined Wormuth used town letterhead to urge Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Glenville, and state Sen. Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon, to support the legalization of mixed martial arts. She allegedly received $7,000 in three separate payments from a promoter for trying to peddle her influence, which also included urging county supervisors to support professional MMA in New York.

During her arraignment in federal court, prosecutors asked that Wormuth be required to seek substance abuse therapy and counseling. She was later released on standard conditions.

Members of the Town Board have repeatedly called for Wormuth’s resignation, only to have their demands rebuffed. Last month, they filed a petition with the state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division, calling for her to be removed and alleging she engaged in self-dealing, corrupt activities, conflict of interest, moral turpitude, intentional wrongdoing and violation of the public trust.

On Friday, the four remaining Republicans on the Town Board released a joint statement accepting Wormuth’s resignation. Craig Hayner, a board member recently elected as Saratoga County clerk, said the town has functioned adequately without Wormuth and anticipates a smooth transition.

“The Town Board is looking forward to finally closing this chapter and starting a new one,” he said in a news release.

Town officials are now discussing whether Tollison should start his term early or take office in January. The board will also need to find an interim member to fill Hayner’s spot when he is sworn in as county clerk.

Contacted Friday, Tollison said he’s anxious to start work. He said he hopes the town can now move beyond the tumultuous legacy Wormuth created during her final months in office and restore the community’s faith in its government.

“Actions are going to speak louder than words,” he said. “I’m going to set forth a very aggressive agenda going forward that shows transparent government.”

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