It was an emotional and teary-eyed Mary Jo Guyette who entered Pierrepont Court wearing sunglasses to answer to charges she stole more than $117,000 from Potsdam Town Court where she once worked as a court clerk.
Accompanied by her attorney Edward Narrow, Guyette turned herself in to State Police investigators Tuesday morning.
Guyette pleaded not guilty before Justice Robert Camp to felony charges of second-degree grand larceny and falsifying business records.
She is accused of stealing from fines, surcharges and other court accounts and then allegedly tried to cover the thefts up by destroying case files over a four year period from May 2009 to June 2013.
The discrepancies were discovered by then-deputy Court Clerk Sherry Stone and Town Justice Sam Charleson, which launched a State Police investigation and a state comptroller's audit, which found more than $117,000 missing.
"I am dismayed by the flagrant manner in which this local official abused her position," said State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli in a prepared statement. "Town officials deserve credit for bringing their concerns about the justice court's finances to my office. My auditors and investigators did a tremendous job uncovering the extent of this theft, and District Attorney Rain and the New York State Police took every step to ensure this individual was held accountable."
For now, Guyette's case is being handled by local prosecutors but could be turned over to the state Attorney General's office.
She has reserved her right for a preliminary hearing at a later time while her attorney wouldn't rule out a possible plea bargain.
Guyette was released under probation supervision.
She's due back in Pierrepont Court on April 21.