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Potsdam court clerk suspended; comptroller’s office investigating

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POTSDAM — Town Court clerk Mary Jo E. Guyette has been suspended with pay as the town investigates whether money was misappropriated, according to town board members.

Town Supervisor Marie C. Regan confirmed that an investigation by the state comptroller’s office is underway but declined to comment further.

“I cannot make any comments. We have a practice that we never comment on individual personnel issues,” she said.

The suspension was done quietly. The Town Council did not vote to suspend Ms. Guyette or to begin an investigation, and no information was made available to the public.

If the suspension had been an action taken by the town board, the law would require the decision to be made public in meeting minutes.

The state Freedom of Information Law mandates that the names of suspended public employees and the reason for the suspension should be public information, according to the state Committee on Open Government.

Many details were unavailable Friday, such as when the matter surfaced, the amount of money in question or what happened to the funds. The date of Ms. Guyette’s suspension has not been disclosed.

Town Councilwoman Judith R. Rich said she cannot share any details until the investigation is further along.

“It’s a touchy situation, and it has yet to be resolved, so I guess I have no comment,” she said. “It’s fluid right now. I wouldn’t say anything against anybody until things are resolved.”

No criminal charges have been filed.

Several attempts to reach Ms. Guyette for comment were unsuccessful.

According to Councilwoman Rosemaria Rivezzi, the decision to pay Ms. Guyette during her suspension was made because the court clerk is innocent until proven guilty.

“She’s presumed innocent. We will look into it until we find out what actually happened,” she said. “I’m sure the board’s intention would be to find out the truth and to be fair to her.”

As a town employee, Ms. Guyette is a member of the Teamsters Union Local 687. The town’s agreement with the union stipulates that employees can be suspended with just cause.

Employees do not have to be paid during a suspension, but if it is found that suspension was unjustified, the employee will be owed back pay for the time lost.

The court clerk is responsible for the administrative duties at the court, including managing the paperwork and paying the bills.

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