McLaughlin moves closer to trial
Kenneth C. Crowe II reports in the Times Union that lawyers for Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin now have 30,000 pages of records from the state Attorney General’s Office as part of discovery in the criminal case alleging misuse of campaign funds in 2017. McLaughlin made his first court appearance Feb. 3 since he was arraigned on Dec. 1, 2021. That comes after a Rensselaer County grand jury indicted McLaughlin with grand larceny and offering a false instrument for filing for allegedly stealing $5,000 from his campaign account on Nov. 21, 2017. That was just weeks after winning his first election for county executive. His attorney, Ben Hill, said Feb. 3 that he was preparing a motion to dismiss the indictment against McLaughlin for “a lack of sufficient evidence.” Assistant Attorney General Chris Baynes told Judge Jennifer Sober that he was ready for trial, and Sober set a March 21 deadline for defense motions. McLaughlin, a Republican, continues to say he will win the case but did not speak during the court proceedings Feb. 3. McLaughlin is accused of using campaign funds to pay $3,500 to a former member of his state Assembly staff, Jennifer Polaro. A check for $5,000 was drawn from the campaign account in November 2017 to Hudson Valley Strategies, which is run by Richard Crist, a county Republican political operative who works on McLaughlin’s county staff as director of operations. Crist then deposited the check, the indictment claims, and wrote a $3,500 check to pay Polaro. Read more about this story in the Times Union.