Lawyers say accused Rotterdam jewelers are innocent
ROTTERDAM The attorney for one of two jewelers charged in a stolen property case said Friday that both men fully cooperated with authorities, but the owner of the stolen jewelry never came in to pick out her pieces.
Instead, the state police raided the store and both ended up being charged with felonies. The case stemmed from the jewelers unknowingly purchasing items stolen during a burglary last year at the Schoharie County residence of Assemblyman Peter Lopez, the attorney said.
“This is just one of those things that apparently got blown out of proportion,” attorney Robert J. Stoddard said Friday. “The entire matter could have been resolved simply by having Mrs. Lopez, the only person who could identify the jewelry, come to the store and pick it out. That offer was on the table Day 1.”
Stoddard declined to put a reason on why he believed charges were brought.
Jewelers Joseph Delefano and Richard Poltorak both appeared in Schenectady County Court Friday and formally pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
They each face two counts of fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and one count of first-degree falsifying business records.
Delefano also faces another count of first-degree falsifying business records and seven counts of first-degree perjury.
Stoddard represents Delefano. Attorney Michael Horan represents Poltorak.
Judge Karen Drago allowed both to remain free on their own recognizance after hearing arguments from attorneys.
Both defense attorneys noted their clients have deep ties to the community. They also said their clients were offered deals previously to resolve the case by pleading guilty to a misdemeanor and paying a $500 fine.
Horan said his client turned down the deal “because he is, in fact, innocent.”
Stoddard made a similar statement during Delefano’s arraignment.
Prosecutor Ed Moynihan, standing in for the main prosecutor William Sanderson, objected to consideration of prior plea negotiations. Drago said she did not consider those in her decisions.
Delefano and Poltorak own Regency Jewelers on Altamont Avenue. State police investigators said last June that they developed a lead indicating stolen property from the Lopez residence was at the store, but both men refused to release the items. A search warrant was executed with assistance from the Rotterdam Police Department, investigators said, and the items were recovered.
Charged with breaking into Lopez’s home and another home were Bryan Lemoine, 21, and Connor Casabonne, 21, both of Schoharie. Lemoine was sentenced last fall to two years in state prison for his role in the burglaries, Casabonne 3.5 years.
Delefano’s perjury charges stem from him denying he knew about various aspects of a Rotterdam ordinance that requires secondhand dealers to document the description of each item purchased, who sold the item, and when. He was allegedly lying to the grand jury when he made this denial.
Stoddard said his client did not know about the town ordinance concerning second-hand dealers.