Jury finds Rensselaer County Executive McLaughlin 'not guilty'
Robert Gavin reports for the Times Union that Rensselaer County Executive Steven F. McLaughlin was acquitted Jan. 25, following a jury trial, of stealing $5,000 from his campaign and falsifying records to cover it up. The day-and-a-half-long trial led to a quick resolution — jurors began their deliberations at about 3:45 p.m. and returned their verdict within an hour. The Republican former state assemblymember's attorneys hugged supporters after the verdict was read, prompting applause in the small courtroom. McLaughlin thanked the jury, the judge, and his attorneys, Thomas A. Capezza and Benjamin W. Hill. He said his attorneys "saw this case for what it was right from the beginning." McLaughlin had previously suggested the charges filed against him by the office of Democrat state Attorney General Letitia James were politically motivated. On Jan. 25, he thanked his family, friends, his girlfriend, her children and his children and "all the ... citizens of Rensselaer County who have supported me throughout the years. They know the good work that we’re doing and we’re going to continue to do the good work," he said. McLaughlin, 59, would have been removed from office if convicted and faced prison time. James issued a statement following the verdict saying that while she is "disappointed in the jury’s finding today, I respect their decision." The two-day trial revolved around the issuance of a $5,000 campaign check to Richard W. Crist in November 2017, which a state prosecutor described as a crime secretly orchestrated by a powerful political boss through his "bagman." McLaughlin's defense argued that he was simply paying Crist, his political consultant and currently the county's operations director, for a job well done. Read the full story in the Times Union.