QUEENSBURY — Warren County prosecutors have agreed to drop nine felony charges filed against the former project manager of Lake George Watershed Coalition who is accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant funding.
The county district attorney’s office has agreed to drop some of the charges in response to a pretrial motion filed by David J. Decker’s defense counsel, who claimed that some were duplicitous and/or multiplicitous. Decker faces a 22-count indictment, and the weightiest charge against him, corrupting the government, is not among the charges that prosecutors have asked to dismiss.
Duplicity is the joining in a single count of two or more distinct and separate offenses; multiplicity is the charging of a single offense in several counts. A finding of either can result in the dismissal of some charges.
After a review of the case, the Warren County District Attorney’s Office agreed to dismiss some of the charges that defense lawyer Karl Sleight claimed illegally overlapped.
District Attorney Jason Carusone said the decision on which charges to continue to pursue came as his office reviewed evidence in the case and responded to defense counsel pretrial motions.
“As we continue to evaluate the evidence and apply the appropriate standards under the law, we have determined which counts our office can bring to trial,” he said.
He said he could not elaborate at this point in the case.
Among the counts to be dropped are felony charges of defrauding the government, grand larceny, scheme to defraud, tampering with physical evidence and falsifying business records.
Charges that include corrupting the government, second-degree grand larceny, third-degree grand larceny and tax fraud-related counts remain.
Decker still faces up to 25 years in state prison on the weightiest charge.
Sleight on Monday reiterated a comment he made at Decker’s last court appearance, that he believes the case against his client is “falling apart.”
“The investigation relied on by the district attorney was faulty and drew inaccurate conclusions. It is exceptionally rare for a prosecutor to voluntarily dismiss charges before the court rules on the motions,” he said in an email. “Mr. Decker did not commit any crime.”
Warren County Judge John Hall has yet to rule on the motion, but with prosecutors indicating they will not pursue the nine charges, dismissal is all but a certainty.
Trial in the case is likely in July, as Sleight and lawyers with state agencies jostle over records to which the defense is entitled pursuant to a subpoena issued by Hall. Motions to quash the subpoenas have been filed.
Decker, 67, of Burnt Hills, oversaw environmental and water quality projects for the coalition of municipalities and environmental organizations for nearly two decades, handling millions of dollars in state and federal grants.
He has pleaded not guilty to the indictment, which stems from his arrest in March 2017, and he is accused of stealing $440,000 while working on coalition projects between 2013 and 2017. Some of the money was allegedly funneled to a shell contracting corporation he created that did not provide any services or materials to the projects for which it was paid.
He has claimed the money he received was legitimate payment for his work, but he is accused of tax fraud for not claiming the money on his state taxes in 2012, 2013 and 2014.