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Ex-Poquott Village trustee has one felony charge dropped by DA

Edward Schmidt, now 23, still faces two misdemeanor

Edward Schmidt, now 23, still faces two misdemeanor petit larceny counts for allegedly misspending funds when he was president of the Poquott Civic Association. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Suffolk County prosecutors have dropped a felony grand larceny charge against a former Poquott village trustee who had been among Long Island’s youngest elected officials before he faced charges of stealing funds from the North Shore community’s civic association.

Edward Schmidt, 23, still faces two misdemeanor petit larceny counts for allegedly misspending funds when he was president of the Poquott Civic Association, according to a spokesman for the district attorney’s office.

Schmidt resigned from both the civic association and the village board in 2014 amid questions about his dual roles with the organizations.

He had been charged last year after civic association leaders said they had found financial discrepancies when Schmidt was the group’s president from 2013 to 2014.

Schmidt is due to appear on June 1 in First District Court in Central Islip on the misdemeanor counts. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to a year in jail for each count.

Robert Clifford, a spokesman for District Attorney Thomas Spota, said prosecutors agreed to drop the felony charge after reviewing evidence in the case.

“We cannot prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, hence the dismissal of the felony grand larceny charge,” Clifford said Friday. “The other crimes he is alleged to have committed will be adjudicated in District Court.”

Schmidt had been charged with a felony last year for allegedly taking at least $1,500 from the civic association. He also was charged with the two misdemeanor counts for separate incidents in which he allegedly stole an additional $300 or more from the group.

Schmidt’s attorney, Tad Scharfenberg of Bohemia, said he hopes prosecutors also drop the misdemeanor charges for lack of evidence.

“We’re happy that the DA’s office agreed with us and dismissed the felony, and now we just have to get the remaining parts dismissed and we’re looking forward to our day in court,” he said. “It’s a shame what Eddie has gone through, but he’s working real hard to get his life back together and move on with his college education.”

Schmidt filed a lawsuit on May 12 in State Supreme Court in Riverhead against civic association president Carol Pesek, her husband, village trustee John Pesek, and civic association officer Felicia Chillak.

The suit alleges that the Peseks and Chillak caused Schmidt “emotional distress” by publicly airing accusations that he had stolen from the civic group, said attorney Scott Middleton of Bohemia, who represents Schmidt in the civil case.

Carol Pesek said she and her husband had been advised by their attorneys not to comment on the lawsuit or Schmidt’s criminal case. Chillak could not be reached for comment.

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