WGXC-90.7 FM

Athens judge misappropriated town funds

Jan 08, 2024 1:55 am

Phillip Pantuso reports in the Times Union that Athens town judge E. Timothy Mercer misappropriated town funds and approved a falsified invoice in 2020, according to the state Commission on Judicial Conduct. The Commission said the judge used his position to financially benefit his own company. The state Commission on Judicial Conduct recommended that Mercer, be removed from office. So while Mercer’s term on the Athens Town Court ended Dec. 31, removal would stop him from ever returning to the bench. The report, released Jan. 5, found Mercer awarded a contract to his own company, Mercer Associates to install a security camera. He bought a camera that cost $760 less than the one identified in the application for funds, according to the Commission on Judicial Conduct report. Then he installed it himself, with a court clerk telling him that she did not think he should be performing that work because “it didn’t look good” and “that we should use someone not associated” with the office. A $3,329.99 invoice from Mercer then said the cost of the camera system was $2,329.99, not the actual cost of $1,569.99. Mercer then approved the invoice himself as town justice, checking a box on the form labeled “Department Approval.” The town bookkeeper told the town supervisor about the issue, and the town's attorney recommended withholding the payment. month, A month later the part-time judge submitted another invoice to the town, with an “Overdue Balance” of $3,329.99 and a new “finance charge” of $66.59. Commission Administrator Robert H. Tembeckjian said in a statement, “Leveraging judicial office for personal financial gain, and dealing dishonestly with town and court system officials in the process, undermines public confidence in the integrity of the courts and disqualifies a person from further service on the bench.” Mercer now has 30 days from Dec. 30 to appeal the ruling or the Court of Appeals will remove him from the bench. Read the full story in the Times Union.