ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The chairman of the Rensselaer County Legislature was arraigned in court Wednesday morning on charges stemming from alleged unemployment fraud.
Martin Reid is facing charges of one count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and 40 counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree.
The charges stem from Reid allegedly improper receipt of unemployment insurance benefits, according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
“Unemployment insurance benefits exist to protect hardworking New Yorkers who suddenly find themselves without a job; not to fatten the wallets of those who are already gainfully employed,” Schneiderman said in a press release. “My office will continue working with the Department of Labor to root out fraud and hold accountable anyone who fraudulently obtains unemployment insurance benefits by lying about their employment status.”
According to the 29-page indictment, between February 2013 and November 2013, Reid collected more than $15,000 in unemployment insurance benefits after he resigned from the NYS School Boards Association in the face of termination.
In his application, Reid stated that he separated from the NYSSBA due to lack of work and in each of his weekly certifications for benefits, he stated that he was not working and did not earn more than $405 in the preceding week. However, throughout that time period, Reid was employed by Rensselaer County and earning an annual salary of $30,000.
Reid was a legislator for 20 years. He was arraigned in Albany County Court on Wednesday and pleaded not guilty.
The judge released him on his own recognizance. Reid will step down as chairman.
His republican colleagues would not comment on the charges, but the democrats did.
“The legislature as a whole can’t respect the position as chairman as he’s going through this process,” Rensselaer Co. Legislature Minority Leader Peter Grimm said.
Grimm said that once allegations surfaced, he and his fellow democrats contacted county, state and federal authorities asking them to take a closer look.
“I don’t think it’s political,” he said. “I think what it is, is right.”
Grimm stressed that the work of the people would get done.
“We’re the fiscal oversight for the things that happen here; that will continue,” he said. “Our meetings will go on as they have. Is it a little kink in the works? Yeah, I think so.”
Richard Crist, spokesman for the Rensselaer County Legislative Minority Office, released the following statement:
“We remain focused on continuing the work of the Legislature and helping ensure county residents receive needed services and representation on fiscal and quality of life issues.
To that end, Martin Reid will be stepping down as legislative Chairman effective today to face these charges. Vice Chairman of the Legislature Stan Brownell will become chairman for the time being.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Martin and his family as they deal with this situation.”
Reid’s resignation is effective immediately; however, he will remain on as a legislator as the case moves forward.
If convicted, he could face up to seven years in prison. His attorney and the AG’s office declined to comment.
Read the full indictment below.