Ogdensburg mayor found not guilty in harassment case
FOWLER, New York (WWNY) - A town judge has found Ogdensburg Mayor Mike Skelly not guilty of harassment in a scuffle outside city hall last year.
Fowler Court Judge Tim Knowlton ruled that the prosecution failed to prove their case when they accused Skelly of shoving then-firefighter Gerald Mack to the ground while the mayor was entering city hall for a council meeting.
Skelly had been charged with second-degree harassment.
The mayor’s attorney, Peter Dumas, said “justice is done.”
The judge had reserved his decision after listening to two hours of testimony at a bench trial last week.
In his ruling, Knowlton said more evidence is needed to prove Skelly committed second-degree harassment “than mere words uttered in anger and annoyance.”
He said that even physical contact shown in a video during the trial “is not sufficient in itself to establish an intent to commit the offense of 2nd-degree harassment.”
We reached out to the mayor for comment. We got a statement from city manager Stephen Jellie.
Jellie blasted the DA. He didn’t mention District Attorney Gary Pasqua by name but wrote “Unfortunately, the St. Lawrence County District Attorney made an unwise and politically based decision to pawn his responsibility off on a small town court to decide a matter that he could have ended months ago had he simply reviewed the evidence, been transparent with his analysis and acted in the efficient interest of those he was elected to serve.”
“Instead, the District Attorney sent a junior prosecutor to make a ridiculous and insulting argument that Mayor Skelly was somehow responsible for the intentional act of obstructing a government official that is clearly seen in the video being executed by the defendant against Mayor Skelly.
“Now, because of the District Attorney’s inaction in this matter for over a year, the crimes of stalking and criminal mischief allegedly committed by Gerald Mack against Mayor Skelly must be prosecuted by the Franklin County District Attorney’s Office, again, allowing the St. Lawrence County District Attorney to avoid any personal liability to his political career.”
DA Pasqua told 7 News Thursday afternoon that Jellie’s comments were “absurd.”
“It’s absurd, inaccurate,” he said. “He clearly doesn’t understand how our judicial system works and is incorrect in some of the facts he puts in his statement.
“I’m unsure why the city manager is commenting on something that is not city business,” Pasqua said.
“The idea that this was somehow politically motivated is ridiculous. I believe the mayor and I are in the same party.”
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