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Potsdam court clerk embezzlement case will move to Franklin County after St. Lawrence judges’ recusal

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CANTON — The case of A former Potsdam Town Court clerk accused of embezzling more than $117,000 will be heard in Franklin County after judges in St. Lawrence County recused themselves.

Mary Jo E. Guyette, 43, of 1221 County Route 35, Canton, is charged with third-degree grand larceny and falsifying business records. According to her attorney, Edward F. Narrow, the case will be brought before Franklin County Judge Robert G. Main Jr.

“All the judges in St. Lawrence County have filed letters with the clerk’s office recusing themselves,” Mr. Narrow said. “The next available judge is Judge Main. After him we would have to take it to Judge Patrick R. McGill in Clinton County.”

St. Lawrence County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards and Family Court Judge Cecily L. Morris both filed letters recusing themselves with the County Court clerk. County Surrogate and Acting Supreme Court Judge Kathleen Rogers will be retiring at the end of May.

In his certificate of disqualification, Judge Richards said he is disqualified to preside over Ms. Guyette’s case because her mother was his secretary when he was the county district attorney.

“This is how the system works,” Mr. Narrow said. “We are just going to the next judge on the list, and we are looking to work with whatever judge we get to decide on a just and fair disposition.”

Mr. Narrow and St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary E. Rain have already met to discuss the case. The foundation for a deal in which she could plead guilty to third-degree grand larceny charge and make restitution of $117,000 has been agreed to by both parties.

The charges follow an investigation by state police and the state Comptroller’s Office which revealed that since June 2009 Ms. Guyette had allegedly been altering court financial documents to hide the theft of $117,120. She was suspended in June with pay when the discrepancies were found, but was fired on Sept. 11.

Sentencing will be left up to the judge, Mr. Narrow said. However, he said, he will be pushing for five years of probation supervision with no jail time since Ms. Guyette had no criminal history prior to the larceny and records falsification charges.

Ms. Guyette is currently released under probation supervision. Mr. Narrow said he expects the case to be heard in Franklin County before the end of May, though no date is currently scheduled.

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