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Judge reserves decision in harassment trial of Ogdensburg’s mayor

Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 5:02 PM EST
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TOWN OF FOWLER, New York (WWNY) - A bench trial of Ogdensburg Mayor Mike Skelly on a harassment charge ended Tuesday with the judge reserving decision until a future date.

Fowler Town Court Judge Tim Knowlton had listened to more than two hours of testimony and closing arguments when he stated he will issue a written decision in 30 days — probably less.

Skelly is accused of shoving then-firefighter Gerald Mack to the ground. It was alleged to have happened as Skelly made his way into city hall through a group of protesters on December 9 of last year.

Security video of the incident played a key role in Tuesday’s hearing. Both Mack and Skelly took the witness stand. Each gave their version of what the judge was seeing on the video, which was dark and, in places, blurry.

The defense emphasized their contention that Mack was blocking Skelly’s path into a council meeting.

“He’s adamant that he didn’t do anything with any vitriol or any certain meaning. He just wanted to get into the meeting,” said Peter Dumas, Skelly’s lawyer. “He was blocked by a number of individuals, including what the video showed to be Gerald Mack.”

The city council was about to vote on eliminating seven firefighter jobs. On Tuesday, prosecutors argued Skelly made a bee-line for Mack that night and that he should have found another way into the building. They would not comment after the trial.

Skelly on the stand said he didn’t push Mack that night. Mack said Skelly did.

This whole incident happened when Ogdensburg was in the midst of discussing contentious budget proposals. Now we’re there again, with another contentious budget proposing cuts in police and fire.

And again there has been an alleged dust-up between Mack and Skelly. Mack has been charged with stalking and criminal mischief for allegedly slashing a tire on Skelly’s Corvette on November 3.

“I don’t think there’s any overtly bad people involved in this. I think that when it comes time to make these decisions on a city’s future, people get very invested,” said Dumas.

Skelly is charged with second-degree harassment. It’s a violation. Mack retired from the Ogdensburg Fire Department not long after the December 2020 incident.

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