Village Clerk indicted
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Edith Schop, the village clerk of Monticello, was arraigned yesterday on a 40-count indictment by a Sullivan County grand jury.
The charges, said District Attorney Steve Lungen, pertain only to her work for the state as the law library clerk inside the County Courthouse. He stressed that they do not have to do with her 27-year service as the village’s clerk.
However, Schop is likely to lose her state job and may also be suspended from her village position, according to village trustees, who were supposed to meet in an emergency session last night.
According to the indictment unsealed in County Court yesterday, Schop is being charged with one count of grand larceny in the fourth degree, one count of defrauding the government and 38 counts of offering a false instrument for filing, all Class E felonies that carry penalties ranging from probation to up to four years in prison.
According to Lungen, Schop allegedly was double-dipping, putting in for time spent in the law library where she makes around $28 an hour as a part-time employee when she was actually elsewhere, including at work in the village hall.
Following up on a complaint that, based on several anonymous sources, originated within village government, the DA’s office and the State Police covertly watched Schop from April to September, along with checking documents and interviewing people that included Village Manager Ray Nargizian and Monticello Mayor Gordon Jenkins.
Lungen would not talk about such specifics, but he did acknowledge that the investigation remains ongoing.
Schop’s attorney, Henri Shawn, pled not guilty on her behalf but could not comment further, as he had just been handed the indictment documents at the arraignment.
“I have to examine the charges first,” he said.
Schop, who declined to comment, must return to County Court on October 26 at 9:30 a.m. (though she won’t appear again in front of County Judge Burton Ledina, who recused himself). She is free on her own recognizance but must report to the State Police barracks in Liberty to undergo fingerprint and DNA processing. She has never been arrested before, said authorities.
Mayor Jenkins and trustees Victor Marinello and Carmen Rue expressed dismay but insisted Schop will not be treated as if she is automatically guilty.
“I will not sit in judgment of Mrs. Schop,” Jenkins said in a prepared statement. “She is entitled to the presumption of innocence.
“I have worked with Edith Schop as both a trustee and mayor. I have found her to be a dedicated, hard-working employee,” he said. “… Every mayor has relied on her dedication, hard work and knowledge of village affairs.”
“I certainly would support not dismissing her but suspending her without pay until the investigation is complete,” remarked Marinello. “… Right now, I’ve got to give her the benefit of the doubt, though at this point I am quite shocked and disappointed.”
“We are not going to fire her,” stated Rue. “We should suspend her without pay until the investigation is done. … You’re innocent until you’re proven guilty.”
Whether Schop can be suspended without pay beyond 30 days isn’t clear yet, but Rue said the mayor’s secretary, Stacy Walker, is Schop’s deputy and can fill in for her, if needed.
What will happen at the village could not be learned at press time, but Mayor Jenkins expressed concerns with the integrity of the process. According to his prepared statement, “There have been rumors circulating in village hall for several weeks that spoke of a grand jury investigation of Mrs. Schop. The people who appeared to have knowledge of this grand jury investigation are the same people who on previous occasion sought to have a criminal investigation launched against other public officials to further their political goals.”
Jenkins declined to elaborate.