Rensselaer County executive’s criminal trial begins

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Opening statements were made Tuesday in the criminal trial of Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin. McLaughlin is facing charges in connection with his 2017 campaign.

There was no recording allowed inside court. McLaughlin and his attorneys did not answer NewsChannel 13’s questions outside. 

McLaughlin withdrew $5,000 from his campaign fund when he was in the state Assembly to satisfy a debt to an aide, the state attorney general said.

He’s charged with two felony counts, including grand larceny.

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The defense claims this is all an attempt to target McLaughlin.  They argue that the check in question was legitimately made out to a consulting firm in 2017. 

A handful of witnesses testified. One witness said paying consultants is a fact of life. The witness testified that the all expenses were properly documented and reported to the Board of Elections— which they say would never have happened if something was done under the table.  

In question right now is whether that money paid off personal debts to a former staffer.

If he’s convicted of a felony, he would be removed from office. He could also face several years in prison.