Cobleskill Trustee Mark Galasso is calling for an investigation into what role Carol McGuire—among others—may have had into Bob LaPietra’s eventual indictment on election charges.
Friday, a Schoharie County Grand Jury handed up an indictment charging Mr. LaPietra with 30 counts of perjury and offering a false instrument in his nominating petition for village trustee.
It was Ms. McGuire—who is also running for trustee—who first challenged the accuracy of Mr. LaPietra’s petition.
While that challenge was thrown out on a technicality and Mr. LaPietra was allowed to remain in the race, days later he was arrested on the Class E felonies.
Mr. Galasso wants not only Ms. McGuire’s role in incidents leading to Mr. LaPietra’s arrest investigated, but Village Attorney Meredith Savitt’s as well.
“After reviewing the various news reports over the past few weeks, I feel it is necessary to determine what role, if any, the Village of Cobleskill or its representatives may have played,” Mr. Galasso said in a two-page statement read to Mayor Mike Sellers and fellow trustees last Tuesday.
Referring to the objection Ms. McGuire filed with the Board of Elections, Mr. Galasso questions a meeting had with Ms. Savitt, Codes Enforcement Officer Mike Piccolo, and Codes Secretary Nellie Mooney and “several people who had signed the petition].”
“The Codes Enforcement Officer confirmed to me that the meeting did occur at the village office as described and that all who were there participated in the conversation,” Mr. Galasso said.
Among the questions he raises are: Who called the meeting? Why wasn’t the rest of the board notified? Why didn’t Ms. Savitt recuse herself, and what comments or legal advice did she offer?
“Given that Trustee McGuire is running for re-election against the person whose election petition she is challenging while acting in an official capacity, does this represent a conflict of interest?” Mr. Galasso asked.
Mr. Galssso said he’s concerned the village could face legal ramifications “due to its improper involvement in an election.
“Why is the village attorney working for a candidate for office while in an official capacity for the village?”
Mr. Galasso is also worried both Ms. McGuire and Ms. Savitt may have violated ethics rules or laws.
He comes down especially hard on Ms. McGuire.
“Does this constitute an abuse of her authority as a village trustee by involving village employees and the village attorney in an election for which she is a candidate?
“As a candidate in this election, do Ms. McGuire’s actions as a trustee represent an attempt to rig an election?”
Ms. Galasso called for a village investigation into his allegations—without Ms. McGuire’s participation—to consider ending its contract with Ms. Savitt.
Additionally, he called for a village policy prohibiting board members from involving village employees in election matters, and urged bringing his concerns to DA Jim Sacket.
“…to allow the DA’s office to determine if Trustee McGuire’s actions constitute official misconduct, an abuse of power, a misappropriation of funds, a violation of her oath of office, a violation of ethics law, or any other legal violation.”
After Mr. Galasso finished, there was stunned silence from the rest of the board—but only for a moment.
“Considering the broad paintbrush that’s been applied, I ask that there be no comment…and call for immediate adjournment,” said an angry Trustee Bill Gilmore.
“Then it will be going to the DA,” said Mr. Galasso.
Mr. Sacket said Friday he’s received a call from Mr. Galasso, but hadn’t returned it because of a death in the Galasso family.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Galasso’s complaints have the support of Mr. LaPietra.
“I think this is going to grow as it goes along,” Mr. LaPietra said.
“The circle will grow wider.”