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Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill has come under fire from county legislators in Franklin County following the arrest of one of their members last month. Photo: NYS
Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill has come under fire from county legislators in Franklin County following the arrest of one of their members last month. Photo: NYS

Legislator arrest sparks political fight in Franklin County

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County legislators in Malone are raising questions about the arrest of one of their own members last month for allegedly driving with his ability impaired by alcohol.

Tim Smith from Fort Covington pleaded not guilty to the charge. But now some of his fellow elected officials are questioning why the arrest was made.

This latest fight is part of an on-going feud between county legislators and Franklin County Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill.

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Reported by

Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

I wouldn't say he's gone off the rail, but the issue to me is what was that car doing there? What was it doing there? It's sort of an isolated area. - Franklin County Legislator Paul Maroun
Ask Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill about the arrest of Tim Smith from Fort Covington on the evening of August 15th and he says there’s really not much to tell. 

One of his deputies, Luke Cromp, allegedly observed a vehicle driving erratically.  "I had a deputy out there who was performing a law enforcement function and performed a vehicle traffic stop.  And the rest is history, as they say," he says.

According to Mulverhill, who was elected in 2010, Deputy Cromp was in the area that day checking on registered sex offenders.

"There are officers all throughout the county who are in positions.  I don't know that there's anything suspicious about that."

But Smith’s arrest follows months of tension between the sheriff’s department and county legislators and at a meeting earlier this month that feud erupted.

According to the Plattsburgh Press Republican, county legislators shouted at Mulverhill and questioned the motive for the arrest

Tupper Lake village Mayor and Franklin County legislator Paul Maroun. Photo: Brian Mann
Tupper Lake village Mayor and Franklin County legislator Paul Maroun. Photo: Brian Mann
Paul Maroun is a Franklin County legislator from Tupper Lake.  At the meeting, he accused Mulverhill of “running amok.”

"I wouldn't say he's gone off the rail, but the issue to me is what was that car doing there?" Maroun asked.  "What was it doing there? It's sort of an isolated area."

Maroun points out that the sheriff’s department doesn’t operate regular road patrols or make frequent traffic stops.

"All I wanted from him is an explanation."  Asked if he believed that the sheriff was targeting an elected official for political reasons, Maroun said, "I don't know that.  I'm not saying that."

What both sides agree on is that the relationship between the sheriff and county lawmakers is deeply broken.  

"It's been strained for quite some time now," Mulverhill said, citing a long-running dispute over staffing levels and spending for the county jail. 

Paul Maroun, from Tupper Lake, agrees that lines of communication have broken down.

"I've worked with four sheriffs now and this is the least line of communication that we've ever had," Maroun complained.  "I don't think the sheriff wants to work with us very much."

According to the Plattsburgh Press Republican, at the meeting earlier this month, county lawmakers once again angrily threatened to curtail the sheriff department budget. 

In an editorial, that newspaper blasted Maroun and other legislators for what the Press-Republican described as “retribution for the recent arrest of one of their own.”

Meanwhile, Clinton County’s district attorney Andrew Wylie has been assigned as special prosecutor in the case involving the arrest of Tim Smith. 

Smith, who pleaded not guilty to driving while impaired by alcohol, didn’t return phone calls in time for this report.

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