Former Halfmoon town Supervisor Melinda “Mindy” Wormuth waived an indictment and denied felony allegations she stole $4,000 worth of checks given to her campaign last year as her candidacy for the Republican nomination crumbled.
Appearing briefly Tuesday afternoon in Saratoga County Court, Wormuth agreed to forgo a grand jury review of the case being prosecuted by the state Attorney General’s Office. The appearance was largely procedural, allowing the case to move from Waterford Town Court to a jurisdiction where felony complaints can be adjudicated.
By waiving the indictment, Wormuth’s case can skip a step in the legal process that could have prolonged a resolution. E. Stewart Jones, the former supervisor’s attorney, said the maneuver will help advance the case toward trial.
“This simplifies the process,” he said following the three-minute appearance in court.
As she did in Waterford Town Court, Wormuth denied felony charges of third-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree grand larceny and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and a misdemeanor count of petit larceny. She was released on her own recognizance.
A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office declined to comment on the case. Wormuth’s next court appearance has not yet been set.
Already under federal scrutiny for alleged influence peddling, Wormuth allegedly told an FBI agent she cashed four checks worth $4,000 that were given to her campaign between April 22 and July 23, 2013. The investigator said she admitted to cashing them personally so there would be no record of the money in her disclosures and acknowledged having second thoughts about taking the money.
But the checks came in after Wormuth lost the GOP endorsement for supervisor to former Town Justice Kevin Tollison on April 9, 2013. Further probing revealed Wormuth allegedly cashed three other checks between 2009 and 2010, but failed to report the donations.
In total, Wormuth is accused of misusing $6,250 in contributions. She was taken into custody on the charges in October, just moments after a two-count felony indictment was unsealed in U.S. District Court in Albany.
In the federal case, Wormuth is accused of accepting $7,000 in cash from promoters in return for using her influence in the town and on the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors to advocate for the legalization of mixed martial arts competitions in New York. Wormuth is accused of using town letterhead to contact state legislators in support of mixed martial arts and then receiving three separate payments that were characterized as consultant fees.
Wormuth’s trial in federal court was postponed earlier this month until Sept. 9. Jones requested more time to prepare for the case after being one of the lead attorneys in the trial of former state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno in May.