U.S. Attorney’s Office
December 10, 2015
Northern District of New York
Halfmoon Town Supervisor Sentenced to 12 Months in Prison
Melinda Wormuth Convicted of Extortion and Making a False Statement
ALBANY, NY—Former Halfmoon Town Supervisor Melinda Wormuth was sentenced today to one year and one day in prison as a result of her convictions for extortion and making a false statement, announced United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian and Andrew W. Vale, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
United States District Judge Gary L. Sharpe also sentenced Wormuth to serve a one-year term of supervised release, to begin after her release from prison, forfeit $3,000, and pay a fine of $7,500.
The sentence follows Wormuth’s August 10, 2015 guilty plea, during which she admitted that she accepted money in return for her official actions. She admitted that she received $7,500 in cash, which was characterized as “consulting fees,” in return for using her official positions as Town Supervisor and member of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors to lobby for the legalization of professional Mixed Martial Arts (“MMA”).
“Public service is about dedication to community and country, not the use of official position for profit,” stated U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian. “Taking money to lobby for legislation is illegal corruption that betrays the public trust. We will continue to work with the FBI, the Attorney General of New York, and the New York State Comptroller to identify and hold accountable officials who commit such crimes.”
“Ms. Wormuth exploited her position and the faith of those she swore to serve,” said Special Agent in Charge Andrew W. Vale. “This kind of criminality drains the public’s confidence in our leaders. The FBI stands determined with our law enforcement partners to investigate those who would further erode the public’s trust.”
The charges were the result of an investigation by the Federal-State Anti-Corruption Task Force that includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York Attorney General’s Office, the Internal Revenue Service, and the New York Comptroller’s Office.
“When elected officials misuse their office for personal gain it betrays the public’s trust,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “This case shows that when elected officials break the law, they will be held accountable. I’m proud to have worked with my partners in state and federal government to bring this defendant to justice.”
“Ms. Wormuth abused her office and betrayed the taxpayers she was elected to serve,” State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said. “I hope this sentence sends a clear message that this misconduct by an elected official will not be tolerated. I thank United States Attorney Hartunian, Attorney General Schneiderman, the FBI and the IRS for their continued partnership to fight corruption.”
Between April 10, 2013 and August 10, 2013, Wormuth sent letters on her official letterhead to state legislators in New York, requesting legislative action in favor of professional MMA. Wormuth performed no legitimate consulting work for the $7,500 payment, and she accepted this money understanding that she was expected to use her official position to promote legislative action in favor of professional MMA.
Wormuth also admitted that she lied to FBI agents during an interview on August 7, 2013. Wormuth stated that she had consulted with “K.T.,” a former Town Justice in Saratoga County, to obtain approval for her actions before taking the $7,500 payment. This statement was false because she had not consulted with “K.T.”
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ransom Reynolds and Jeffrey Coffman, and by former Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney John Duncan.