SCAVO GIVEN A WEEK TO CONSIDER PLEA DEAL

Albany County lawmaker would have to admit he harassed female tenant

JORDAN CARLEO-EVANGELIST STAFF WRITER
Section: Capital Region,  Page: D6

Date: Thursday, December 8, 2011

ALBANY -- A judge has given County Legislator Brian Scavo a week to mull a plea deal that would require him to admit harassing a female tenant, and in doing so satisfy an unrelated forgery case against him.


The deal, which would result in the Democratic lawmaker paying about $220 in fines and surcharges, emerged in City Court Wednesday after Rensselaer City Court Judge Kathleen Robichaud declined to dismiss the forgery case, in which Scavo has been accused of faking the signature of a tenant on an eviction document.


But Scavo, who lost his bid for re-election last month, left the courthouse defiant.


"I'm innocent," said Scavo, 58, who was elected in 2007 to represent the 7th Legislative District off Delaware and New Scotland avenues. "If I said something to this woman, I would take this."


In October, Scavo was accused by a 35-year-old tenant in his 7 Barclay St. building, Inderjit K. Toor, of entering her apartment without permission on Oct. 7, swearing at her and threatening to "smash" her in the face.


Scavo denied the allegation, calling Toor a disgruntled tenant facing eviction for, among other things, not paying her utility bill.


The second-degree harassment charge lodged by Toor is a violation, a non-criminal offense lower than a misdemeanor, but it marked the fourth time Scavo has faced charges since taking office. He has never been convicted.


Scavo and another of his former tenants faced the same harassment charge in 2008 after the two scuffled with each other, a case that was later dismissed in return for both men's good behavior.


Assistant District Attorney Linda Griggs of the Public Integrity Unit told the judge the proposed plea bargain would require Scavo to plead guilty to the harassment charge in exchange for also settling the nearly year-old forgery case, which has stalled because Scavo's accuser is out of the country.


In that case, Scavo is accused of forging the signature of one his tenants, Patrick Mason, on an affidavit of service, a court document swearing that eviction paperwork had been served on another tenant. Scavo initially pleaded not guilty in that case to two felony counts, which were reduced to misdemeanor third-degree forgery charges.


Scavo's attorney, E. David Duncan, moved to dismiss the charges on the grounds that Scavo has been denied his right to a speedy trial, but Robichaud ruled that it was beyond the district attorney's control that Mason had taken a contract to teach in South Korea for a year. Robichaud has been assigned to the case because Albany's City Court judges recused themselves.


On Wednesday, Duncan, himself a former Albany city judge, told the court he had negotiated the proposed plea deal with the district attorney's office.


"Unfortunately," he said, "my client is not going along with it."


Duncan asked for and received a week for Scavo to consider the proposal.


Outside court, Scavo said he has hired a property manager to deal with his tenants to avoid future disputes.


Reach Jordan Carleo-Evangelist at 454-5445, jcarleo-evangelist@timesunion.com or on Twitter @JCEvangelist_TU