TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin is facing criminal charges in a state attorney general Letitia James’ investigation. He has been indicted on charges of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, both felonies.
There was no comment, from the typically outspoken Rensselaer County Executive McLaughlin as he walked into the Rensselaer County Court at noon Wednesday.
He was joined by his attorney Benjamin Hill. The AG’S office says they are ready to go to trial. The charges stem from a probe into McLaughlin’s handling of campaign funds in his 2017 campaign for Rensselaer County Executive.
The attorney general said that McLaughlin withdrew $5,000 from his campaign fund to pay $3,500 in personal debts. This was while he was running for County Executive in 2017, while he was a State Assemblyman.
The charges stem from an alleged dispute between McLaughlin and a staffer over $3,500 and the use of their laptop and iPad. McLaughlin allegedly directed a $5,000 check be cut from his campaign fund and given to Hudson Valley Strategies, a political consulting firm operated by his current Director of Operations Rich Crist. James said that Hudson Valley Strategies then cut a $3,500 check to the staffer and returned their laptop and iPad.
The filing of a false instrument charge is due to McLaughlin allegedly filing a financial disclosure report with the New York State Board of Elections on December 4, 2017. In that report, he claimed the campaign funds were used to pay for consulting.
“Elected officials are entrusted to protect and serve, but Mr. McLaughlin allegedly violated that trust by using his campaign funds as a personal piggybank,” said Attorney General James.
There was no motion for bail and McLaughlin was released. The judge ordered the defense to file motions on January 17, 2022.