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Sheriff might have violated ethics code with letter, lawmakers say

Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 5:48 PM EST
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LOWVILLE, New York (WWNY) - Lewis County lawmakers say Sheriff Mike Carpinelli may have violated a code of ethics when he penned a letter to a federal judge asking for leniency for a man charged in the January 6, 2021 riots in Washington, D.C.

It’s not what’s in the letter, but it’s what’s at the top of the letter that may become a problem. It’s the fact that Carpenelli wrote his letter on the sheriff’s department’s official letterhead that now has the county legislature wanting a review of his actions.

Carpinelli wrote to a federal judge hearing the case of William Tryon, a 71-year-old man from the Albany area and a friend of Carpinelli’s.

Carpinelli says he has known Tryon for years and that the two met in the Albany region during rallies for a group called Liberty Bell Alliance 76.

The Albany Times Union reports the group is a self-styled “modern day” militia, organized by Tryon.

Tryon pleaded guilty to his actions at the January 6 riot and protest in Washington, D.C.

According to the Albany Times Union, Tryon asked officers at the Capitol for permission to enter, was told no, and tried to enter anyway, resulting in him being pepper sprayed.

Carpinelli’s letter says, in part, “I know Bill is remorseful for his actions on January 6th at the Capitol. I do believe and standby Bill’s good character and love of his family. This is why I will put my title and reputation alongside my friend, William Tryon.”

But, it wasn’t what was in the letter that drew the attention to the Lewis County Board of Legislators. It was what it was printed on - an official government letterhead.

“That’s my official title. The Sheriff of Lewis County. I wouldn’t put anything else but a letterhead from my department,” said Carpinelli.

But the Board of Legislators says that’s in violation of the sheriff’s department’s own policy regarding correspondence and letterheads, which reads, “Members and employees of the Sheriff’s Department shall not use official Department letterheads for personal or unofficial correspondence.”

Lawmakers are referring the issue to the Lewis County Ethics Board for further review and Lewis County Attorney Joan McNichol wants an opinion from the United States Office of Special Council.

We reached out to Sheriff Carpinelli following the county’s statement, but we haven’t heard back yet.

Despite the letter, Tryon was sentenced to 50 days in jail, which CBS notes is almost twice the sentence prosecutors recommended.

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