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Former union treasurer gets probation after forgeries

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CANTON – A former union treasurer charged with embezzlement and forgery wss sentenced to probation in St. Lawrence County Court Monday, dodging up to seven years of prison due to a June plea agreement.

Philip J. Jessmer, 42, of 79 Lincoln Ave., Waddington, was sentenced to five years’ probation by St. Lawrence County Judge Jerome J. Richards for a second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument conviction.

The charge was a part of a plea deal reached between Jessmer’s attorney, St. Lawrence County Public Defender Stephen D. Button, and Assistant District Attorney Joshua A. HaberkornHalm.

Jessmer had been charged with nine felony charges - eight counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument and one count of grand larceny.

Mr. Jessmer held the position of treasurer for the Civil Service Employees Association Local 185, which represents civilian employees at Ogdensburg Correctional Facility, from July 1, 2009 until February 2012.

He was charged with forging checks totaling $7,616.19 between April 2010 and October 2011.

According to court documents, the amounts of the forged checks from the local were one each for $1,200, $989.72, $200 and $100, and two apiece for $900 and $600, and $2,126.47 in reimbursement checks from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union that he cashed and kept for himself.

In a statement given to state police Jan. 15, Jessmer admitted hiss crime. “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 Monday, Jessmer apologized to his family and the court for his actions and said he had already made full restitution.

On June 14, when he agreed to the reduced charge, Jessmer told Mr. Button that his wife had lost her job and he used the money to help support his family and pay bills.

In addition to his five year probationary sentence, Jessmer was ordered to pay a $50 court fee to submit his DNA to the state’s database.

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