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Frey resigns legislature, calling out a 'witch hunt'

Feb 01, 2011 12:56 pm
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Sean Frey, Democratic legislator from Durham, has resigned his position rather than face allegations related to mileage reimbursement, claiming he's had enough of political witch hunts against him, based on his positions. Image from his Facebook page."][/caption]Greene County Legislator Sean Frey said in an exclusive WGXC interview last night that he tendered his resignation and paid the county $2,000 to settle its charges related to mileage discrepancies because "enough is enough. I'm tired of them digging into my private life."

Frey, the former Democratic minority leader representing the town of Durham (District 9), a contractor who had never held public office before running for the county legislature in 2006, submitted a letter to the Greene County Legislature last Thursday stating he would resign effective Monday, Jan. 31. Personally, he says he made his decision at the start of the year, which is why he pushed his fellow party members to elect Harry Lennon of neighboring Cairo as his replacement in the Minority Leader post. His current term would have expired Dec. 31, 2012, and County Attorney Carol Stevens, in the news last year for having pitched a replacement appointment fight with then Gov. David Paterson after longtime County Treasurer Willis Vermilyea resigned his post in the midst of an election, has said it is now up to the county legislature to name a replacement, presumably Republican, which is now expected in March.

While a Daily Mail story on the matter today stressed the allegations against Frey, all based around his mileage charges for trips to and from county meetings that reportedly included other stops besides his home, as well as Frey's use of vehicles owned by the companies for which he's worked as a day job, the legislator himself has pointed out how he's been pegged for investigations ever since he started questioning majority actions in the legislature. The Daily Mail reports an investigation by Greene County District Attorney Terry Wilhelm and the New York State Police and Wilhelm claiming that Frey would report round trips he would not complete, noting that "criminal charges were avoided in the matter after Frey agreed to a private arrangement between his attorney and the district attorney’s office." Frey has said no charges or formal indictments were ever filed against him, and that he paid the requested $2,000 in reimbursement funds so he could end the investigation of several years and save his family, his day job with Ulster-Greene ARC, and his Durham constituents from further stress.

He also questioned why Wilhelm did not recuse himself from his case, but did from other legislator's and county officials' investigations, all Republican. “During my four years on the Greene County Legislature for Durham, I, at no time, received any monies that I did not believe I was entitled to nor were not in the usual and customary practices by members of the Greene County Legislature. However, rather than putting my family, myself and Greene County residents through a lengthy and perhaps costly public process I made the decision to resign my position as Durham’s legislator. I wish to thank the residents of Durham for the opportunity to serve them over the last four years.”

"You get elected and aim to do good," he added in his WGXC interview, "and find there's still some who will do everything they can to bring you down just because they don't like what you stand for." In the past decades, Greene County has had a series of major news stories, some involving calls for resignation and most not, including the campaign for reelection of a sheriff found guilty of DWI, the front page arrest of County Majority leader Keith Valentine and his wife for serving alcohol to minors at a party in their home, and the hiring of "interim" county officials directly out of local businesses that had had significant dealings with the county's development agencies. It seems, however awkwardly, that Greene County's 2011 legislative election season has begun.