PLATTSBURGH -- An appeal by Peru Town Supervisor Donald Covel over his 2006 harassment conviction has been denied.

Clinton County Judge Patrick McGill ruled against the appeal, in which Covel raised concerns over what he believed were two errors in the trial: insufficient or inadequate proof and the exclusion of relevant material evidence.

The case stems from an incident in early 2006 when Covel grabbed Town Clerk Kathleen Flynn by the arm, spun her around and pushed her during an altercation in the Town Hall.

According to trial testimony, Covel had been yelling at his former confidential secretary, Susan Polhemus, when Flynn approached him in an effort to calm the situation.

Polhemus was fired from her position shortly after the incident for what Covel has called "irreconcilable differences."

Covel was found guilty of second-degree harassment following a four-hour trial before City of Plattsburgh Judge Penelope Clute.

In his appeal, Covel said there was "insufficient evidence to support the trial court's finding that the defendant acted with the intent to harass another."

In his written decision, McGill disagreed, stating that, "This court has examined the records and finds that the evidence presented at trial was legally sufficient to support the verdict" and that Covel indeed intended to "harass, annoy or alarm another person."

McGill also disagreed with Covel's claim that the court had overstepped its bounds by not allowing extrinsic evidence into the trial, citing Covel's failure to establish a proper foundation for introducing the evidence of an alleged prior inconsistency in Flynn's statements.

"In fact, even in his brief to this court, the defendant does not set forth the exact nature of the alleged inconsistent statement, which he asserts the trial court erred in not allowing him to prove extrinsic proof," McGill wrote.

With that established, McGill ordered the judgment of conviction to be affirmed.

Contacted by the Press-Republican, Flynn said she was unaware of the final decision but was not surprised.

"I am very thankful that Judge McGill saw Mr. Covel's inappropriate and illegal actions just as Judge Clute had," she said.

"Mr. Covel has never taken responsibility for his actions nor has he shown any remorse. He has continued to harass and berate employees of the Town of Peru, and that is inexcusable."

Covel said he was advised by his attorney to not discuss the issue but added that his attorney was seeking another appeal.

jmeyers@pressrepublican.com



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