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March 26, 2014

Malone Town Councilor facing 4 misdemeanor charges

MALONE — Malone Town Council member Mary Scharf pleaded not guilty Tuesday to four misdemeanor charges that accuse her of falsifying petitions and violating State Election Law.

Scharf, 63, of River Road was arraigned in Town of Malone Court before Acting Town Justice Fred Boardway on two counts of second-degree offering a false instrument for filing and two counts of misconduct in relation to petitions in violation of State Election Law.

Because there is a conflict of interest with any of the town’s three judges hearing a case concerning an elected town official, Scharf’s file will be transferred to Franklin County Court Judge Robert G. Main Jr., who will assign it to a different municipal court.

The investigation was handled by Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie, whom Main appointed special prosecutor last fall.

‘SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE’

The case involves alleged alterations made to Democratic Party petitions filed with the County Board of Elections to nominate members of the party’s county and town committees.

Scharf, who did not yet have an attorney, said Tuesday after court that she has done nothing wrong.

She said she followed nominating-petition instructions from County Democratic Party Board of Elections Commissioner Kelly Cox.

“I did exactly what she told me, to the letter,” Scharf said. “That was supposed to be the expert (instruction).”

Wylie said State Police investigated and that his office “reviewed the case, and we believe there was sufficient evidence for charges to be filed.”

He said no one else will face prosecution, despite Scharf’s claims against Cox.

“The charges are solely against Mary,” he said. “We didn’t have that come up as part of our investigation.”

‘BLINDSIDED’

When asked to comment on the fact that she would be the only person facing charges, Scharf said, “I have no opinion on that.

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