Trial date set for Mayor Dayton King after motion for dismissal denied
JOHNSTOWN –After a motion to dismiss charges against Gloversville Mayor Dayton King were denied in Johnstown Town Court on Wednesday, a trial date was set for September.
King appeared briefly in Court on Wednesday in connection to charges of official misconduct brought against him by state police on Dec. 8 after former Gloversville mayoral candidate and city firefighter William Rowback Jr. filed a complaint with troopers in Mayfield based on the alleged release of information from his employee personnel file.
Troopers allege King used his position as mayor of Gloversville to gain access to, and review, Rowback’s personnel file and then released the information during a live debate on a local radio station on Oct. 28.
King voluntarily appeared at the Mayfield State Police barracks in December where he was processed and released. He appeared in Town Court with attorney Robert Abdella on Dec. 20 where he pleaded not guilty.
After several court appearances were postponed, King and his attorney returned to court Wednesday where Abdella made a motion to dismiss the charges against his client that the judge denied without explanation. Abdella then requested a trial date that is scheduled to begin with jury selection on Sept. 11.
The case is being handled by Montgomery County District Attorney Kelli McCoski. She could not be reached for comment regarding the case this morning.
Abdella spoke on King’s behalf after he departed from court Wednesday, saying he made the motion to dismiss the charges based on the inability of the court to prove his client knew he was unauthorized to release the information.
“[Rowback] basically invited him to give that information. In fact, in the debate Dayton’s moving on to the next subject and Mr. Rowback kind of calls him back and says ‘no Dayton wait a minute, we want to know,'” Abdella said. “You can listen to it, it’s in the transcript.”
In a Dec. 8 Facebook post, King stated that Rowback “repeatedly pressured” him to discuss his file on air. King said the discussion was a result of Rowback’s insistence to cover the topic, “not because of anything I said or did.”
“I really don’t know why he was charged with a crime, I don’t get the thinking behind it, it’s going over my head. I think it’s the type of thing that could have been resolved over a couple of beers and a bro hug. This is not something that really belongs in a courtroom,” Abdella said.
Rowback has maintained that he did not give permission for the release of his personnel information that he says was required to be kept confidential by law.
According to state penal law, a public servant is guilty of official misconduct when the individual knowingly commits an act related to their position as an unauthorized exercise of their official functions or refrains from performing a duty imposed by law or clearly inherent in the nature of their position with the intent to obtain a benefit or deprive another person of a benefit.
Rowback has alleged that King, his opponent in the 2017 mayoral election, released the information for political gain.
When asked if any action regarding the case would take place between now and the trial date, Abdella said there was no way to know for sure, but he did not request a conference.
“Ultimately I think cooler heads should prevail here and the taxpayers have a lot of better things to spend their money on than this,” Abdella said. “Dayton’s certainly disappointed with the fact that there was no resolution tonight, but I think that ultimately the facts are on our side and the law is on our side.”
Gloversville Firefighters Association Local 719 President Ed Martelle was on hand Wednesday for the proceedings, saying he was glad that the motion for dismissal had been denied and the case concerning the privacy of firefighters locally and across the state would continue.
“This we see as being a precedent potentially that our private records could be accessed for something other than promotion or discipline and in our opinion that’s not acceptable,” Martelle said. “There’s 28 members in this department and 18,000 firefighters across the state that are affected by this.”
For Martelle the importance of the case’s outcome is about signaling to public officials the required right of privacy.
“We would like to have something that says that this can’t happen again,” Martelle said. “Something ultimately that says that this can’t be done, that our rights are protected and our privacy is protected.”
“I’m glad that the process is working the way it is,” he added.