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Diehl charged with using Lewis County-funded gravel at home

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LOWVILLE — Lewis County’s suspended recreational trail coordinator was accused of using more than $3,000 worth of county-funded gravel for his driveway at his town of Martinsburg home.

Lewis County Sheriff’s Department officials on Tuesday morning charged Robert C. Diehl, 43, of 3611 Gardner Road, with third-degree grand larceny and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, both felonies, and official misconduct, a misdemeanor. He was arraigned before Lowville Village Justice Patricia H. Yarina and released on his own recognizance.

Because some of the charges are felonies, he will likely be prosecuted ultimately through Lewis County Court.

Mr. Diehl was accused of, in late October, submitting a purchase order and voucher for payment of stone products from a local vendor that included $3,262.97 worth of gravel that was delivered to his residence for his personal use. The discrepancy was discovered after payment had been made, department officials said.

In his official capacity, the trail coordinator regularly purchases gravel and other stone products from V.S. Virkler and Son through the county’s all-terrain vehicle trail permit fund to create and maintain the trail system.

Michael F. Young, who along with fellow attorney Gary W. Miles is representing Mr. Diehl, declined immediate comment when reached by telephone Tuesday afternoon.

The trail coordinator has not returned multiple phone messages over the past week.

County Manager David H. Pendergast one week ago suspended Mr. Diehl without pay over the allegations.

While rumors of the trail coordinator improperly using a county truck have surfaced, officials said they were not part of the criminal investigation, which concluded last week.

Mr. Diehl, who was appointed by legislators six years ago, may be granted a hearing under Civil Service to defend himself and seek reinstatement to his job, but that likely won’t happen until criminal proceedings are completed.

County legislators will likely have the ultimate decision in whether to retain or fire him.

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