Assemblyman’s case settled as a violation

ALBANY — Fulton County state Assemblyman Robert Smullen has pleaded guilty to a violation in connection with a property dispute that hung over his 2018 campaign.

The town of Johnstown Republican legislator from the 118th Assembly District said Wednesday the criminal case that was brought against him was resolved.

Smullen’s primary residence during the campaign was listed at 265 Route 309, Johnstown, but he also owns a home in Niskayuna, where his family resides so their child with a learning disability can attend a specific school. Smullen later admitted he had sought a military tax exemption for the Niskayuna property, but that it had been done in error and that he withdrew the request and paid back the exemption money.

According to a news release issued by his office, the town of Niskayuna, was given the tax issue back from a Schenectady County grand jury. The release says Niskayuna Town Court moved to dispose of the issue, being resolved as a violation.

“I agreed to a violation,” Smullen told The Leader-Herald today. “I’m super optimistic. I’m very glad it’s over.”

Smullen added: “I’m focused on what’s going on in the future. This thing has been hanging on needlessly. I made an error and I corrected it.”

The release noted that defense attorney Steven Kouray, who believes that the state’s case remains factually questionable, advised Smullen to move on and avoid an expensive trial.

“I think that Robert Smullen was needlessly dragged through the mud by his political opponents using our system of law, and ending this quickly is better than taking an unknown chance under our current existing system,” the attorney said. “The recent legislative changes to speedy trial and discovery will go a long way to fix issues needing attention for all the people, including my client.”

The assembylman’s wife, Megan, was compelled to testify against her husband to the grand jury, the release said.

“They commanded me to testify after my husband did so voluntarily, to try and further hurt my family,” she said.

Smullen is currently serving his first year in the state Legislator in Albany. Last Nov. 6, he became Fulton County’s first state legislator in Albany since the early 1990s. The retired Marine Corps colonel defeated Democratic challenger Keith Rubino of Herkimer County to claim the two-year seat representing the five-county, state 118th Assembly District. Smullen won by a nearly two to one ratio: 26,451 votes to 14,976. That equated to 60 percent of the vote for Smullen and 33.4 percent for Rubino. In Fulton County, Smullen enjoyed an even bigger margin of victory — 10,303 to 5,204 for a 63.2 percent to 31.9 percent victory.

The assemblyman said today he’s still upset that the property matter affected his Second Amendment rights.

The release said the issue of how Smullen’s Constitutional right to keep and bear Arms were violated “remains open.” His pistol permits were summarily suspended without an opportunity to be heard, and done so merely upon the filing of a criminal complaint, without any supporting evidence in Niskayuna Town Court, the release said.

“I remain committed fighting for the issues that I campaigned on, to include protecting the Second Amendment,” Smullen said. “There is no greater honor than to represent our people in Albany, which is what I was sent there to do.”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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