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New details: Corfu Judge & daughter named in 64-count indictment
Corfu, Genesee County -- In 2011 a New York State Comptrollers Audit revealed lapses in bookkeeping practices at the Corfu Village Court that could be to blame for more than $30,000 in missing or misplaced funds.
This week a 64-count criminal indictment accuses former Corfu Village Court Clerk Brandi Watts with crimes related to some of those unaccounted funds. The indictment also names Watts father, former Corfu Village Justice and current Pembroke Town Court Judge Robert Alexander, and it charges him with Coercion and Official Misconduct.
"Finally, what's taken so long, was the reaction Corfu Village Board Member Ken Lauer said.
The criminal indictment accuses Brandi Watts of 53-counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing 1st Degree. Each charge accuses Watts of submitting time sheets to the Village of Corfu that exaggerated (the) number of hours worked. That practice allegedly took place from June 2009 until Watts dismissal from the court clerks post in August 2011.
Watts is also charged with three Grand Larceny Charges for missing funds totaling more than $13,000. She faces five charges of Tampering with Public Records 1st Degree for allegedly false entries in five individual criminal cases handled by the court.
How Did The Scheme Work?
13WHAM News spoke to two of the defendants in those five cases. In one case a man said he paid $150 for a speeding ticket and he learned only months ago that he was only had to pay $125. Im not holding my breath, the man said when asked if he expected a refund.
Another case involved a locally elected official who tells 13WHAM News that he insisted the court handle his case the same as everyone else. He was ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt and claims that Court Clerk Brandi Watts told him to write a letter to the court asking for a reduced charge.
The man said he paid $75 to resolve the matter and many months later, while the NYS Comptrollers audit was underway, he asked of Watts replacement what happened with his ticket. He said records showed the charge was dismissed leaving the whereabouts of his payment unknown.
"I had a friend who thought she paid her ticket, received notice that her ticket was still due and came in and said I paid it. Well you got the receipt? No. Well too bad, you got to pay it, added Ken Lauer of another persons experience.
The Judges Alleged Crimes
Although not spelled out in the indictment, 13WHAM News has learned more about the charges Judge Alexander currently faces. The two counts of Coercion and one count of Official Misconduct are both Class-A Misdemeanors.
Sources indicate that the coercion charges stem from circumstances surrounding a harassment complaint brought to the attention of the Corfu Village Board in October 2012. The Batavian was at that meeting and the published minutes of the meeting show Court Clerk Pam Yasses said Judge Alexander was threatening her job and called her arrogant and prideful. Yasses told the board that her interactions with Judge Alexander changed once she completed an internal audit of court records that paralleled those of the State Comptroller audit with missing money.
At that meeting the board voted to send a letter to Judge Alexander a written admonishment from the Board to cease and desist from the harassing conduct, that it will not be tolerated and if it continues the board would have to take further action.
The board gave Yasses a week of paid time off so she could avoid being exposed to the judge following his receipt of that letter.
Alexander could not be reached for comment at his house on Thursday. His more than two-decade run as Corfu Village Justice ended in March when he chose not to run for re-election. Alexander remains a judge in the Town of Pembroke until at least the end of 2013.
Alexander and Watts are due back in Genesee County Court on Monday to be arraigned on charges with their lawyer present.