By Jon Campbell, Albany Bureau
COEYMANS, NY-- Assemblyman Steve Katz received 20 hours of community service and a $75 fine as part of a plea deal unveiled in Coeymans Town Court on Thursday.
Katz, R-Yorktown, Westchester County, was ticketed for marijuana possession and speeding in March after he was stopped by State Police on the state Thruway in southern Albany County.
As part of the deal, Katz received a lesser parking ticket and an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, which would result in the marijuana charge being thrown out if he stays out of legal trouble for six months and completes the community service by the end of June.
He did not appear in court Thursday, leaving it to his attorney to formally accept the plea deal. Katz did not immediately return a call for comment.
"Assemblyman Katz is interested in doing his work for the people and the state as a civil servant and moving forward," Susan Chana Lask, the attorney, said outside the courthouse.
Katz was stopped on March 14 on Interstate 87, where he was clocked driving his 2009 Subaru at 80 mph in a 65 mph zone on his way to the state Capitol for an Assembly session. State Police said Katz surrendered a plastic bag containing two other empty bags and 3.5 grams of marijuana.
Lask on Thursday attempted to cast doubt on whether Katz was actually in possession of the drug, even though court records clearly show the substance Katz possessed tested positive for marijuana.
When asked repeatedly by reporters whether Katz had marijuana on him that day, Lask did not answer directly.
"I wasn't there. We weren't there," Lask said. "The police officer isn't here. The case was dismissed, and there's no charge."
Katz, a veterinarian, has been an outspoken conservative in the chamber's minority party since he was elected in 2010. In 2012, he voted against a bill that would have legalized medicinal marijuana in New York.
Less than two hours after he was ticketed in March, Katz spoke out on the Assembly floor against a bill that would require additional training for health care providers.
The next day, when news broke of the charges, Katz issued a statement acknowledging the "unfortunate incident."
"I am confident that once the facts are presented that this will quickly be put to rest," he said at the time.
You may recall earlier this year when Katz questioned the state's plan to help fund the stadium renovation project at Ralph Wilson Stadium.