Highway worker on job after guilty plea to child endangerment
A longtime Shelter Island highway employee remains on the job after pleading guilty to endangering the welfare of a child -- a 16-year-old girl with whom he admitted having an inappropriate relationship -- town officials said Friday.
Jeffrey Starzee, 47, continues to work full time in the department and draw his $61,000-a-year salary following his Oct. 3 guilty plea in town court.
Starzee, a truck driver and equipment operator, was accused of fondling the Shelter Island girl over her clothing in two separate incidents on Dec. 3, 2012, and was arrested Feb. 22 on misdemeanor third-degree sexual abuse and child endangerment charges.
Because he pleaded to the lesser charge, Starzee will not be required to register as a sex offender.
Town Supervisor James Dougherty said Starzee's job situation has not changed due to his conviction. He said the issue could be revisited after Dougherty's sentencing on Nov. 18.
"We're going to wait and see," Dougherty said.
Starzee, an 18-year employee of the highway department, faces up to a year in jail.
His attorney, Edward Burke Jr. of Sag Harbor, did not return a call seeking comment. Starzee also could not be reached for comment.
The victim's mother, Deborah Ross of Shelter Island, said she's "outraged" that Starzee is still working for the town.
"How could they keep him on after he pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child?" she said. "I think he should be fired for what he did to my daughter. His continued employment is an insult."
Starzee has come under scrutiny before. A 2011 audit of the highway department found he received nearly $9,000 in unapproved compensation from the town while filling in as deputy superintendent.