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Town of Niagara: More charges against Richards dropped

by jmaloni
Fri, Mar 21st 2014 03:55 pm

State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Burns has dismissed two more charges against Town of Niagara Supervisor Steve Richards.

Burns indicated the counts "fail to establish the elements necessary for a charge of official misconduct."

Richards' latest court hearing was Tuesday.

The grand jury indictment against Richards last year listed 28 counts brought by the state attorney general's office. Three others already have been dropped by the prosecution, leaving 23 counts.

Burns' written statement indicated that other charges Richards' attorney has asked to be dropped have to wait for trial.

Currently the trial (jury selection) is May 5 in Niagara County.

"Contrary to defendant's contention, the people's underlying theory of the case is that this defendant, through his official position, misappropriated, stole or otherwise gained a benefit from the use of Town property, resources, supplies or labor," Burns wrote. "... the counts charging official misconduct are legally sufficient at this stage of the proceedings."

Burns also indicated that charges must refer to activity by Richards after Feb. 12, 2010, not from 2001 as in the original indictment, because penal law 195.20 was amended in 2010.

Richards pleaded not guilty to all charges and is under instruction from his attorney Rodney Personius not to comment on the case. However, he has vowed publicly to continue to pursue the case to clear his name.

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