Richards pleads guilty to official misconduct

NIAGARA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Former Town of Niagara Supervisor Steven Richards walked out of Niagara County State Supreme Court, on his own accord, with nothing to say Monday. He pleaded guilty to official misconduct, admitting he used town resources for personal gain, back in 2010.

In the past, Richards almost seemed playful, smiling and running close to a News 4 photographer at one time.
In the past, Richards almost seemed playful, smiling and running close to a News 4 photographer at one time.

Richards’ Attorney Scott Hapeman said, “After careful deliberation, Mr. Richards determined that this resolution serves not only the best interest of Mr. Richards’ family but also the best interest of the residents and employees of the Town of Niagara.”

Hapeman read the prepared statement, after Richards took a plea deal, under which Richards agreed to leave office and repay the Town of Niagara more than $1,000 in restitution.

“Mr. Richards apologizes to the community for taking advantage of his position in this instance, but remains steadfast that the town is in a far better position fiscally and from a quality of life perspective than it was when he took office.”

The New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released a statement about the plea. He said public corruption is unacceptable at every level of government. In addition, he explained Richards used Town of Niagara Workers on town time to pick up a deliver a catch basin to his personal place of business, Richards Motor Service.

Richards was first elected nearly 20 years ago. Upon last week’s resignation, Richards removed all files from his office. Town Councilman Rob Clark says it’s unclear where certain projects stand, because files are missing.

Clark said, “The town’s attorney is supposed to have a list of what he had we’ll go through it and we’ll go from there, it’s our hope that there is no worries.“

Clark was there when Richards made a bizarre comment, back in October.

Richards had said, “You want me out of office, you better pull a gun and put it to my head because I’m not moving.”

Clark said, “To say that was the bullet would probably be inappropriate, to say that you’re innocent this whole time and then plead guilty, that would be the better comment, an innocent man doesn’t plead guilty.”

The deputy supervisor is expected to act as interim supervisor until the town attorney can figure out which step comes next, such as a special election.

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