SCHENECTADY - A Rotterdam man who served as a Schenectady County grand juror has been arrested, accused of illegally disclosing secret information from the proceedings, authorities said.
Richard J. Pane, 25, was arrested recently and charged with one count of unlawful grand jury disclosure, a felony, police records show.
Pane served as a Schenectady County grand juror, according to the criminal complaint against him. He is accused of disclosing the secret information sometime between Jan. 8 and Jan. 26, the complaint reads.
Pane "knowingly and intentionally disclosed the nature and or substance of grand jury testimony" which is "required by law to be kept secret to another person," the complaint reads.
The complaint does not describe the nature of the disclosure further, or indicate how authorities learned of the alleged offense. The complaint is dated Jan. 30, the same day as Pane was arrested and four days after the date range of the charged offense closed.
Grand juries in New York hear evidence presented by prosecutors in felony cases and then vote on potential indictments. Approved indictments then serve as the basis for felony level prosecutions. Grand juries can hear cases where a subject has already been charged by police, but also cases where someone hasn't yet been formally charged.
The actual grand jury proceedings themselves, however, are secret. The law prevents anyone involved in the proceedings from disclosing grand jury testimony. Grand jury witnesses themselves are the only individuals allowed to disclose their own testimony.
Prosecutor William Sanderson declined this past week to describe the specifics of Pane's case further, beyond the allegations made in the criminal complaint.
Sanderson spoke generally about the process for swearing in grand jurors, as well as the warnings given. Grand jurors are told when they are sworn in that the information from the grand jury is to be kept secret and that it would be a felony to disclose that information, he said.
Sanderson also said he did not believe that a grand juror disclosing information about a case would negatively impact any related indictment handed up.
Pane was issued an appearance ticket after his Jan. 30 arrest and released to appear in court later this month.
Grand jurors being charged with unlawfully disclosing grand jury information is relatively rare, but grand jurors have been charged locally and elsewhere in the past.
Locally, a search of Gazette newspaper archives dating back to 1997 returned only one other case of unlawful grand jury disclosure in that span, from 1999 in Montgomery County.
More recently, the state Attorney General's office charged a grand juror in Onondaga County in October 2017, accusing that grand juror of disclosing secret grand jury information related to a drug ring investigation.
And in March 2018, two Columbia County grand jurors were arrested and charged with unlawful grand jury disclosure related to allegations there.