Grand jury hands up indictment against Rensselaer County DA Joel Abelove

TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A grand jury has handed up a three-count indictment against Rensselaer District Attorney Joel Abelove on Friday.

Abelove has pleaded not guilty to two counts of official misconduct and one count of first-degree perjury. The prosecution says they are ready to move forward with the trial.

He was released on his own recognizance.

Abelove says he will not be stepping down. Community members want his immediate resignation.

“I will not be distracted because I am confident in my position we will seek dismissal of these charges or a speedy trial so that our citizens are not disadvantaged by a long and drawn out public spectacle.”

The investigation revolves around the DA’s handling of a deadly officer-involved shooting in April 2016. Thevenin was shot by Troy Sgt. Randy French following a traffic stop in 2016. 

Thevenin’s wife and mother speaking briefly outside court.

“A big relief. We’re seeing that the case is moving on and we’re going to get answers to what happened to my husband, her son. So we’re just going to keep on praying about it.”

In April 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order that allowed the New York Attorney General’s Office to investigate any “unlawful acts or omissions” by Abelove or any other law enforcement officer involved in the Thevenin grand jury presentation.

A grand jury was tasked with deciding if Abelove should face charges related to the handling of the case.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, in March 2017, Abelove tried to stop the investigation stating it was unconstitutional. The New York Supreme Court rejected the claims in an August 2017 ruling.

“As we allege, District Attorney Abelove’s actions violated the law and undermined a criminal investigation,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “The Governor’s Executive Order was designed to restore public confidence in our criminal justice system – yet the actions we detail today only served to further erode that confidence. My office will continue to work collaboratively with law enforcement agencies across the state, including district attorneys, to ensure fair, comprehensive, and independent investigations of every case within our jurisdiction, so that families like the Thevenins get the answers they deserve.”

NEWS10 ABC recently learned the grand jury did deliver a sealed envelope to the Rensselaer County Courthouse.

Columbia County Judge Jonathan Nichols was assigned to oversee the grand jury testimony in the case.

No word on when the trial will begin.

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