OGDENSBURG - After hearing testimony from three witnesses and being presented with three checks that Bobbie Jo Zeller allegedly presented to Monsignor Robert L. Lawler in an effort to repay him, City Court Judge William R. Small ruled there was enough evidence to move forward with the case against Zeller.
Taking the stand at the hearing were Monsignor Lawler, Beth Rockhill, an employee of Community Bank in Potsdam where the checks were said to originate, and State Police BCI Investigator Peter T. Kraengel.
While Zeller is actually facing eight felony counts, Wednesdays preliminary hearing only addressed four of them, the three counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and one count of the third-degree grand larceny.
Mr. Small explained that when Zeller was originally arraigned several of the charges didnt actually fall under his jurisdiction. Mr. Kraengel said those charges, which include first-degree identity theft, fourth-degree grand larceny and two additional counts of third-degree grand larceny, as well as up to four additional petit larceny charges that have yet to been filed, will be filed with the appropriate courts in the near future.
Zeller is charged with scamming, among others, Monsignor Lawler, a now retired Waddington priest; Rev. James E. LaRue,a now retired minister from DeKalb; Robert W. and Gloria J. Dietze, a brother and sister from Norwood; and more than 20 parishioners and friends of Monsignor Lawler, who gave him money on her behalf. When totaled the amount of money allegedly received by Zeller under false pretenses totals more than $300,000.
Zeller was represented at the hearing by Brian Pilatzke, of the St. Lawrence County Public Defenders office. Representing the prosecution was Assistant District Attorney Viacheslav Slava Mareyev.
Following the hearing Zeller was returned to the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility, where she remains without bail.