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Charges reduced in union forgery case

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CANTON — A former union treasurer accused of embezzlement and forgery pleaded guilty to a criminal possession of a forged instrument count in a plea bargain agreement that satisfied eight other felony charges.

Philip J. Jessmer, 42, of 79 Lincoln Ave., Waddington, was released by St. Lawrence County Judge Jerome J. Richards under probation supervision after entering his guilty plea pending sentencing on Sept. 9. The agreement was negotiated with the court by St. Lawrence County Assistant District Attorney Joshua HaberkornHalm and Public Defender Steve Button .

As a part of the agreement, Jessmer will be ordered to pay $7,616.19 restitution.

Between April 2010 and October 2011, while he was treasurer for Civil Service Employees Association Local 185, which represents civilian employees at Ogdensburg Correctional Facility, Jessmer forged checks totaling $7,616.19.

Mr. Jessmer held the treasurer’s position from July 1, 2009, until February 2012. He has since been fired.

According to court documents, the amounts of the forged checks were one each for $1,200, $989.72, $200 and $100, and two apiece for $900 and $600.

In a statement given to state police on Jan. 15, Jessmer explained what he did.

“When I was treasurer of the Local 185 union, I forged our president’s name, Mark Lashua, on approximately five checks,” he said. “When I forged our union president’s name on the checks, I cashed them and kept the money for myself. I also kept three CSEA reimbursement checks for myself.”

The reimbursement checks were supposed to be deposited into the union’s checking account.

In court Friday, Judge Richards inquired what Jessmer did with the money he stole, voicing concern it may have been used for a drug or gambling problem. Jessmer told Mr. Button that he his wife had lost her job and he used the money to help support his family and pay bills.

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