NIAGARA, N.Y. (WIVB) - Friday morning a town is torn over what to do over its longtime supervisor. Steven Richards is facing 28 corruption charges. Thursday night he sat down with other town leaders for the first time since he was charged last week.
The town board is trying to figure out what exactly they should do about this situation. They say they're trying to act in the best interest of the town. Their town supervisor, meanwhile, has been nonstandard since word got out about his arraignment, and how he's proclaiming his innocence. Richards has his that position for 18 years.
His confrontation last week with Town Councilman Rob Clark was hostile. Especially when Clark said this, “You have a track record of being of being very vindictive.”
Richards responded, “Really? Especially against guys like you? You want me out of office? You better pull out a gun and put it through my head because I’m not moving.”
Clark responded, “Who makes a comment like that? A guy who's innocent?”
Richards also appears to be very interested in what Clark has to say. Last week he was looming over his shoulder during an interview about the situation. He did it again Thursday night, though he didn't want to stay much longer after.
Niagara's Town Council is trying to decide how they should go forward. A grand jury charged Richards with 28 crimes that include fraud, grand larceny and official misconduct.
Richards did not have any outbursts at Thursday night's meeting, but did say he is looking forward to proving his innocence.
Thursday, board members asked Town Attorney Michael Risman what action they should take while the court case against Richards plays out.
“If Mr. Richards is convicted of either a felony or a crime involving his oath of office, there would be no court proceeding, no further proceeding, he would vacate the office by operation of law.” Risman said, “It doesn't say if he's guilty or not guilty of anything. It doesn't state that anyone has done anything wrong that we know of. It's just an opinion that the town board may need for its residents.”
If Richards is found guilty of breaking his oath of office, by law, his position would be taken from him. That's only if he's found guilty.
Another option is going to the town's Ethics Board, but there could already be a bias there due to an Ethics Board member writing an op-ed in the Niagara Gazette about the case.
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