Former Cohoes Mayor Shawn Morse sentenced for stealing campaign contributions

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Former Cohoes Mayor, Shawn Morse, was sentenced on Wednesday in Federal Court. Back in August, he pleaded guilty to wire fraud for using campaign funds for his own personal use.

He was facing up to one year in prison, the judge instead sentenced him to two years probation, 200 hours of community service and a $3,000 fine. Morse had already paid back the $12,500 in restitution prior to sentencing.

Ahead of Wednesday’s sentencing, Morse’s defense attorney William Dryer had asked the judge for leniency. In a letter sent to the court earlier this month, his defense team went into detail describing Morse’s decades of public service, including his 26-year-long career as a firefighter.

The defense also asked that the judge disregard the allegations surrounding Morse’s family life which were included in the prosecution’s argument. The judge said it was all irrelevant to this particular case and assured Dryer that it would not have any bearing on his decision.

The defense asked that Morse received a non-prison sentence, comparable to that of his campaign treasurer, Ralph Signoracci, who received one-year probation and 100 hours of community service. Signoracci pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection to the same case.

According to the indictment, Morse would ask Signoracci to withdraw funds from the campaign bank accounts so that he could use them for personal expenses. The two would then conceal the nature of expenses.

On Wednesday, the prosecution argued that Morse betrayed the public trust, saying what he did was a slap in the face to many people whose hard-earned money did not go where it was supposed to. The prosecution said prison time was necessary punishment and would deter other elected officials from doing the same.

Addressing the judge Wednesday ahead of his sentence, Morse accepted responsibility and said he was embarrassed. He went on to say that he is a good man who has spent his life giving more than he has ever taken.

“The community knows that I love them. I’ve dedicated my whole entire life. I’m 52 years old and I’ve been serving them since I was about 18. I love them unconditionally. I will continue to love them unconditionally. I’ll continue to work hard for Cohoes. Listen, I’m going to rise again 1,000 times. My life is going to be extraordinary. I’m going to continue to do extraordinary things to help people,” said Morse.

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