PLATTSBURGH -- The Peru town supervisor and his wife were recently indicted in an alleged building-code scheme.

Donald Covel Jr., 60, is accused of abusing his powers in office by firing Code and Zoning Enforcement Officer Paul Blaine without authorization and then approving an occupancy and building-permit application that his wife, Linda, submitted for Frosty Springs Bottling Co., the business they recently shared.

Mrs. Covel, 56, now has full ownership of Frosty Springs. She is accused of filing the permit application knowing it contained false information.

The unauthorized firing came in late February, about a year after the Frosty Springs building burned down and the Covels were looking to rebuild the business.

At the time, Covel said he suspended Blaine with pay over a number of concerns he had with the code officer's work, though he would not specify what those concerns were.

Covel temporarily assumed the duties of the zoning officer while town officials reviewed his actions to determine if Blaine had been improperly removed.

Blaine was reinstated about a month later.

After weeks of public speculation, the Covels were indicted on a string of charges in connection with the alleged scheme and were arraigned Friday in Clinton County Court.

Mr. Covel, who owns Covels Tree Farm and has been the town supervisor for almost three years, is facing three counts of official misconduct and a single charge of second-degree obstructing governmental administration, all misdemeanors.

County Court clerks said the latter charge alleges Mr. Covel tried to prevent Blaine from doing his job by firing him without authorization.

Mrs. Covel was arraigned on charges of second-degree offering a false instrument for filing and making a false punishable written statement, both misdemeanors.

Both pleaded not guilty and will reappear in court in late October to face the charges.

They already have attorneys and were released on their own recognizance with the consent of the Clinton County District Attorney's Office.

Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie would not release any additional information or comment on the indictments Friday afternoon.

An afternoon news release from the District Attorney's Office did not state what information is alleged to have been false in the application.

When contacted by the Press-Republican Friday afternoon, Mr. Covel said he was busy and hung up. He did not return subsequent messages seeking comment.

Town Councilor Peter Glushko said he heard a grand jury was hearing the case but didn't know the indictment had been handed up until he was contacted by the media.

He said it was initially unclear whether it can or will impact Covel's role as town supervisor.

He said the Town Council will likely discuss the matter with the town attorney during executive session at the regular meeting Monday night.

As far as the criminal charges, Glushko said, "It's out of our hands, and we'll have to wait and see what happens with it."

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