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Steve Katz marijuana arrest: Assembly ethics committee will review his conduct

Westchester County Assemb. Steve Katz (R-Mohegan Lake) was

Westchester County Assemb. Steve Katz (R-Mohegan Lake) was ticketed for speeding and was charged with marijuana possession in Albany County. (July 31, 2012) Photo Credit: Leslie Barbaro

A legislative ethics committee will investigate the conduct of Assemb. Steve Katz, the Yorktown Republican who was charged with marijuana possession after a trooper stopped him for speeding near Albany earlier this month.

Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) told Newsday the Committee on Ethics and Guidance will take a look at the allegations, but not before the case is settled in court. Lavine chairs the committee.

"Our powers are going to be limited until such a time as there is some adjudication," Lavine said. "We certainly want to afford Assemblyman Katz the full benefit of the presumption of innocence."

Carol Meissner, the secretary for the Putnam County Democratic Party, was the one who prompted the ethics committee to start a probe when she filed an official complaint, Lavine said.

Cops said Katz, 58, was driving 80 mph in a 65 mph zone when a trooper stopped him in Coeymans, a town at the southern end of Albany County. State Police said the trooper smelled marijuana as he got closer, and found a 3.5 gram sack of the drug in the car.

Katz was on his way to a legislative hearing in Albany when he was stopped.

Calling the traffic stop an "unfortunate incident," Katz downplayed his arrest in a statement the next day, saying he "will not let this incident impede my public service and my calls for real mandate relief, a better economic climate and better services for those in need in New York."

Katz didn't return a call on Thursday afternoon.

Troopers issued a pair of tickets for marijuana possession and speeding to Katz. Both are violations. Katz was due back in Coeymans court Thursday, but the case was adjourned until May.

Since his arrest, most of the assemblyman's critics have chided him over his perceived hypocrisy -- Katz is a staunch conservative who has voted against medical marijuana and has been outspoken on drug abuse in his district, which includes Yorktown and Mohegan Lake in northern Westchester County, as well as most of Putnam County, including Brewster, Mahopac and Patterson.

Katz has also been quick to criticize other lawmakers for alleged improprieties, including calls for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, to resign earlier this year after allegations that he ignored sexual harassment claims against another Democrat.

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