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Former Lewis trail coordinator found guilty of attempted gravel larceny

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LOWVILLE — Lewis County’s former recreational trail coordinator was convicted Tuesday of trying to charge the county for gravel delivered to his home for personal use.

After deliberating for several hours, acting County Court Judge Donald E. Todd found Robert C. Diehl, 43, Gardner Road, Martinsburg, guilty of third-degree attempted grand larceny, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and official misconduct.

Sentencing was set for Nov. 20, and he was released on his own recognizance.

Mr. Diehl was accused of submitting a purchase order and voucher for payment Oct. 25 for stone products from V.S. Virkler & Son, Lowville, that included $3,262.97 worth of gravel that was delivered to his residence for his personal use.

He initially was charged with third-degree grand larceny, but Judge Todd in July ruled that the charge should be changed to attempted grand larceny because he personally paid off the bill before the county’s check was cashed, after a Virkler employee noticed the issue.

During closing arguments Tuesday morning, attorney Gary W. Miles — who represented Mr. Diehl with Michael F. Young — argued that Mr. Diehl’s inclusion of a personal bill received at his work email address into a pair of other Virkler bills for stone used on the county all-terrain vehicle trail system was “an honest, albeit a foolish mistake.”

“Horrible mistakes are horrible, but they’re not criminal,” he said.

Mr. Miles added that the former trail coordinator is “not a good office manager, but I know some lawyers like that, too.”

“Mr. Diehl is responsible for Mr. Diehl’s actions,” countered Assistant District Attorney Caleb J. Petzoldt.

Mr. Petzoldt equated the former trail coordinator’s situation to people who take items from Walmart without paying for them and claim it was done accidentally, even though they had already passed the point of sale.

“What else is he supposed to say?” the prosecutor said.

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