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Potsdam court clerk embezzlement case will move to Franklin County

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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 St. Lawrence County judges recused themselves.

Mary Jo E. Guyette, 43, of 1221 County Route 35, 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 Judge Jerome J. Richards and Family Court Judge Cecily L. Morris both filed letters recusing themselves. 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. County Surrogate and acting Supreme Court Judge Kathleen M. Rogers will be retiring around the time that the case is expected to be heard.

“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.”

The charges followed an investigation by state police and the state comptroller’s office that revealed that, since June 2009, Ms. Guyette allegedly had 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 Sept. 11.

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

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

Ms. Guyette has been 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 has been set.

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