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Embattled Halfmoon Supervisor facing extortion charges
ALBANY -- Halfmoon Town Supervisor Mindy Wormuth was arrested
on state and federal charges Thursday on allegations she stole money from her
campaign fund and accepted money in exchange for using her position to lobby
Wormuth turned herself in to marshals at Albany Federal Court Thursday morning after a grand jury indictment was unsealed Wednesday evening.
According to the indictment, Wormuth accepted three payments totaling $7,500 as consultant fees and then used her position as supervisor to lobby support for the legalization of Mixed Martial Arts. Shes also charged with making false statements to investigators.
The complaint found in April 2013 Wormuth met with an unidentified individual and accepted $2,500 as a consultant fee, a week later she wrote and mailed letters on her official letterhead to legislators in support of MMA.
In mid-June she supposedly met with a second unidentified individual and accepted $3,000 as a consultant fee. A month later shes accused of agreeing with the individual to submit a resolution to the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors. In early August she supposedly received an additional $2,000 as a consultant fee from the second individual.
Soon after, Wormuth was visited by federal investigators who were looking into her consulting fees and claimed she consulted with a former Town Justice in the county, who approved of her taking the payments. Instead, investigators claim she consulted with a different attorney who advised her she could perform consulting work in her spare time, but she could not use her position in exchange for payments.
In court, Wormuth pleaded not guilty to charges of Interference with Commerce Under Color of Official Right and False Statement. She was released on her own recognizance. The conditions of her release mandate she cannot leave the area.
Hours later she was arraigned in Waterford Town Court on state charges she stole money from her campaign committee, Friends of Mindy Wormuth.
Investigators charge between April 22, 2013 and July 23, 2013 she cashed and wrongfully withheld four $1,000 checks made to her campaign. She is also charged with taking one $1,000 check and one $250 check to her campaign between July 28, 2010 and November 12, 2010. Around July 24, 2009 she supposedly cashed one $1,000 check.
FBI agents interviewed Wormuth twice in August. During the first conversation on August 12 she allegedly admitted to cashing a campaign check in April 2013 and spent it. On August 14 investigators said she told them after the first meeting she decided she should return the money, conceding it was not okay to cash the checks instead of depositing them. Wormuth also reportedly told them she was bitter about not getting the endorsement of the Republican Party to be the next supervisor.
Wormuth pleaded not guilty to charges of Grand Larceny in the 3rd Degree, Grand Larceny in the 4th Degree and Petit Larceny. She is also charged with Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the 1st Degree for knowingly filing an incorrect campaign disclosure report with the state.
Following the two arrests, the Halfmoon Town Board unanimously petitioned the court to remove Wormuth from her position of supervisor. They have already requested she resign, but she later refused. This weekend she submitted a doctors note saying she needed to take a 30-day medical leave.