Judge upholds charges against Sen. Rob Ortt
ALBANY - A county judge on Monday upheld the felony charges against state Sen. Robert Ortt, denying the senator's bid to have them tossed.
Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, Niagara County, had argued that he wasn't given ample opportunity to address the evidence after he took questions from prosecutors and jurors during a grand-jury proceeding last month.
But Lynch ruled Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's Office did give him a chance to address the grand jury at the beginning of his appearance — which Ortt declined to do.
"From a strategic view, a defendant may seek an advantage to give a statement following examination, for he would first have the benefit of knowing all of the questions before he gives a statement," Lynch wrote Monday.
"A defendant's strategic decisions do not, however, govern grand jury proceedings."
Ortt was indicted last month on three felony counts of offering a false instrument for filing.
He was accused of padding his salary in his previous job as North Tonawanda mayor by helping hide $21,500 in payments to his wife, Meghan, from the Niagara County Republican Committee.
Ortt has denied any wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.
The senator and his attorney have painted the charges as a politically motivated attack by Schneiderman, a
Schneiderman has said they are based on the merits, pointing to his record of prosecuting both Democrats and Republicans.
Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for Ortt, said the senator will be "filing several new motions in the coming weeks."
"This was the first of many legal motions that will expose Eric Schneiderman’s political and false charges," she said in a statement.
Ortt's Senate district includes all of Niagara and Orleans counties, as well as the towns of Sweden and Ogden in Monroe County.