The U.S. Attorney, in a rare letter of vindication, said he will not bring formal charges against Kevin Rogers, the corrections officer who was being investigated for improperly spending union funds.
Rogers was the vice president of the now defunct Sheriff’s Employees Association of Rensselaer County. He came under investigation for spending union dues on dinners at expensive restaurants, strip clubs, charitable organizations he fancied and political campaigns of candidates he favored.
Sheriff Jack Mahar placed Rogers on suspension with full pay – about $75,000 - four years ago while the federal government investigated. Now that the investigation is closed, it’s unclear if Rogers will go back to work for his paycheck. Mahar has, in the past, said Rogers will never work at the jail again.
The union’s president at the time, Mark Piche, was also investigated. He pleaded guilty to tax evasion in an unrelated matter involving the Red Front Restaurant, which is owned by his family, and resigned his post as a corrections officer. As was reported earlier, part of that deal was his agreeing to testify against Rogers should the case ever made it to trial.
U.S. Attorney for the Northern District Richard S. Hartunian, in the Dec. 5 letter to Rogers’s attorney Gaspar M. Castillo, said he would hand information over to the state Attorney General, but the statute of limitations is rapidly approaching. And, it’s widely believed, that if the federal government couldn’t find any crime after four years of probing, the state government will give it a cursory glance at best.
Sources say that investigators for the U.S. Attorney’s Office reached out to Rogers on a number of occasions – the latest being last week – saying they were ready to indict and that it would go easier on him if he cooperated. Rogers declined to talk and instead called their bluff.
Rogers never denied spending the union money in the manner stated above and most, if not all, of the transactions were recorded as expenditures in the union check book. However, once the investigation was kicked off, union members complained of not having access to the records, asked for a criminal investigation and voted to dissolve the union.
The initial complaint filed by some union members came after Gary Gordon challenged Mahar for sheriff in 2011. Personnel at the jail were split on which camp they supported during the heated, contentious campaign.
This fall, Rogers joined a handful of jail employees – civilian and uniformed - who filed a civil suit against Mahar and Rensselaer County for claims their medical records were accessed in violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPPA. The county has settled one suit for $20,000.
The U.S. Attorney – or any investigatory body – rarely sends a letter stating the case is closed and charges will not be pursued. The only other person to receive such a letter, in recent memory, was then Cohoes Mayor Bob Signoracci after the FBI concluded its investigation into a number of alleged financial improprieties without bringing charges in the mid-1990s.
More information as it becomes available.