WRIGHT, N.Y. - The criminal prosecution of charges against Harry Beninati started last October after some employees from the town of Wright accused him of stealing diesel from the town, according to attorney Trey Smith.
"I don't ever want to go through something like that ever again," Beninati said Wednesday. He faced charges of falsifying records, and larceny - charges he denied from the start.
On Wednesday, the Schoharie County Grand Jury decided there was not enough evidence to pursue the case further.
"The problem was there was no evidence, real evidence that a drop of fuel had been stolen," said Smith.
"I had board permission to put this fuel in my truck," Beninati explained.
Board members like Jeanne Burton are quick to defend Beninati. "Harry got us through the flood," she said. "I didn't think there was a need for these charges against him."
Benanti says the fuel he pumped into his personal truck went toward flood-related relief after Irene hit the town. "There was an extraordinary amount of fuel used in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene," Smith added.
Town officials alleged that records indicated a huge difference in the fuel that was used while Benanti was town highway superintendent and the fuel used in 2012.
Smith now says the explanation is Hurricane Irene.
"It has been horrible and stressful for me and the family," Beninati said. "They all felt like because it was in the media its true."
The current highway superintendent in the town of Wright did not wish to comment about the dismissal of the charges.
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