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Young hearing in Gouverneur resumes with allegations village wanted officer gone before investigation was complete

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GOUVERNEUR — The attorney for suspended Gouverneur police officer Steven M. Young pushed Tuesday at the resumption of his client’s Civil Service administrative hearing to show that the village intended to rid itself of his client before the investigation into whether he misappropriated gasoline was complete.

At an Aug. 5 meeting with Mayor Ronald P. McDougall, village attorney Henry J. Leader, Police Sgt. Laurina M. Greenhill, and Police Chief Gordon F. Ayen Jr., Mrs. Greenhill’s notes that were given to Mr. Young’s attorney indicate that they discussed criminal charges if Mr. Young did not resign.

If the village had already made up its mind about Mr. Young’s future, the hearing would not be a fair proceeding, according to his attorney, Michael F. Young. Steven Young and Michael Young are not related.

However, Mrs. Greenhill testified that the participants at the meeting were going through options.

“I think there was discussion on some possible ways this could go,” Mrs. Greenhill said. “They were notes for me, not for me to be picked apart in court.”

Steven Young, who was also the fire chief, was suspended with pay in September pending a state police investigation into whether he inappropriately used village gasoline. The village suspended him without pay Dec. 30 and brought a series of Civil Service charges focusing on violations of the rules of conduct of the police department.

He was returned to the payroll March 24 based on Civil Service law.

State police turned their investigation over to the St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office. No criminal charges have been filed.

The village accused Mr. Young of pumping gas into his personal pickup truck from the village tank, using an E2 key that was for police vehicles, rather than an E6 key that was for the fire department.

The village rested its case in April and Michael Young began his presentation Tuesday. In addition to Sgt. Greenhill, he recalled Chief Ayen, who did not remember details of the Aug. 5 meeting in Mr. Leader’s office. Mr. McDougall also did not have an exact recollection of the meeting.

Since Steven Young could fill his personal vehicle with gas for department purposes, it made no difference which key he used, Michael Young said.

But Mr. McDougall said the village has accounting procedures that were violated.

“The bottom line is if it’s used for village purposes, the village is not harmed in any way,” Michael Young said.

Department of Public Works clerk Dawn M. McCollum who testified the amount of gas used by the fire department and police is tracked monthly.

The village’s most recent contracts with the fire department allows it to take as much gas and diesel as it needs, in addition to a $105,000 annual payment. Previous contracts provided the department with an annual payment of $100,000 from which the gas and diesel it used was subtracted.

Former Mayor Dorothy L. Vorce also testified, saying the arrangement with the fire department for gas usage by chiefs and other authorized users was well known.

“It was unspoken they would have gas when they needed it,” she said.

The hearing resumes at 9 a.m. Thursday when Steven Young is expected to testify.

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