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118th Assembly race prompts more accusations

118th Assembly race prompts more accusations

Ethics claim targets official who precipitated complaint that resulted in criminal charge
118th Assembly race prompts more accusations
118th Assembly District candidate Robert Smullen is pictured in his home.
Photographer: Gazette file photo

JOHNSTOWN -- On the eve of his scheduled court appearance to answer a felony charge of filing a false instrument, 118th Assembly District candidate Robert Smullen struck back against one of his accusers, Town Board member Don VanDeusen.

Smullen issued a news release Tuesday stating he has filed an ethics complaint against VanDeusen with the Fulton County Ethics Board.

The complaint alleges that VanDeusen violated Smullen's employee confidentiality when he made public his case to remove Smullen from the Johnstown Board of Assessment Review. Smullen alleges that VanDeusen, during the May 21 Town Board meeting, disclosed information that may have come from Smullen's personnel file. 

"Councilman VanDeusen, under the guise of his official capacity, was attempting to tarnish the reputation of (Smullen) for the political benefit of (Smullen’s) Assembly opponent. Under the Town Code of Ethics (Section 26-3), confidential information is not to be discussed in public session and should be discussed in executive session," states the news release. 

VanDeusen said he doesn't know anything about Smullen having a personnel file with the Town of Johnstown. 

"I'm not aware of any personnel files that actually exist for any of the employees of the town," he said. "I would be hard pressed to locate those, if they do exist. As a matter of fact, there have been several personnel issues that have been brought up since I've been on the board, and I've inquired about personnel jackets and how personnel investigations are conducted, and I never get a straight answer about what does or doesn't exist.

"I'm not sure if he even qualifies as a town employee. He's appointed to a board, so it's baseless, but I wouldn't expect anything less. He holds me responsible for him getting arrested." 

VanDeusen and Johnstown Town Board member Timothy Rizzo -- with supporting documents from 118th Assembly District candidate Patrick Vincent -- made the criminal complaint to the state police that prompted Smullen's arrest on charges that accuse him of filing a false instrument. Specifically, Smullens is accused of taking a primary-residence-only military combat tax exemption for two homes -- one he owns in Johnstown and another in Niskayuna. 

Smullen is scheduled to appear in Niskayuna Town Court at 6 p.m. Wednesday.


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