District Attorney's Office
County stops investigation of former Assistant DA
Livingston County government issued an official statement on Friday, May 25, pertaining to its now-canceled investigation of former Assistant District Attorney Eric Schiener.
In issuing the statement County Administrator, Ian Coyle said his office does not ordinarily comment publicly on personnel matters. However, because the matter has been discussed in last week’s Livingston County News and in other public settings, Chairman of the Board James Merrick and Coyle felt it was important to issue the statement to clarify the matter for the record:
“The Chairman of the Board and other members of the Board of Supervisors received a written complaint about Assistant District Attorney Eric Schiener on Monday, May 14. The complaint included allegations which potentially related to his employment with the county.”
“In accordance with standard practice, an internal investigation was commenced on Thursday, May 17. We want to emphasize that the purpose of such an investigation is to determine whether employment action needs to be taken with respect to an employee. That was the county’s sole interest in this matter. We also want to emphasize that an investigation of this nature does not infer or imply guilt.”
“On Monday, May 21, the county administrator was informed that Mr. Schiener’s employment with the county had been terminated for reasons unrelated to the allegations. Based on these circumstances the county did not have any reason to pursue the investigation further because it no longer had an employment interest in the matter. More specifically, there was no longer any need to determine whether employment action was necessary because Mr. Schiener was no longer an employee of the county.”
“In accordance with standard practice in similar circumstances, the county then discontinued its investigation because it no longer had an employment interest in the matter. That was the only reason the investigation was terminated. At the time the investigation was terminated, no findings or conclusions had been made with respect to the allegations.”
“The county considers this personnel matter to be closed and will have no further comment.”
The county’s investigation of Schiener did not involve the Sheriff’s Office, confirms Sheriff John York who told The County News that his department had “absolutely no involvement.”
“We are conducting no investigation. We were never asked to. There is no complaint,” Sheriff York stated, adding, “The only incident that ever occurred happened in 2008 and that was investigated by the Geneseo P.D.”
When the Livingston County Republican Committee learned of the county government investigation, it postponed what would have been Schiener’s designation as preferred party candidate for district attorney, leaving the slot conspicuously blank.
The investigation itself came about after local county officials and news media were sent copies of signed statements from employees of The Statesmen tavern in Geneseo alleging an incident which supposedly took place in “Spring of 2010,” in which Schiener was accused of misbehavior, flaunting his status as a county assistant district attorney and physically resisting the bouncer.
Schiener has directly denied all of these allegations in a County News interview.
Schiener was involved as a complainant in an incident investigated by Geneseo Police at The Statesmen in 2008, but there is no record of an incident in 2010.
Schiener openly wondered how county government could take seriously what he feels was a smear effort intentionally aimed at hurting his campaign — given the timing, method of delivery and inaccuracies in the message.
By apparent coincidence, the county investigation of Schiener’s got underway almost simultaneously with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s appointment of Democrat Greg McCaffrey as Livingston County district attorney. McCaffrey.
McCaffrey, now himself a very likely Democratic candidate for district attorney in November. immediately terminated Schiener’s employment with the county. McCaffrey told the County News his action was a necessary balancing of the budgeted payroll.
Schiener told the County News that the aborted investigation fails to resolve the issue of Schiener’s role in The Statesmen incident and therefore fails to clear his name — as Schiener believes a properly concluded investigation would have.
In spite of this ruckus, The Livingston County Republican Committee will still choose between Schiener and his GOP primary opponent Steve Sessler when the committee reconvenes next Tuesday, June 5.
The committee will complete making their designations for offices on the November ballot. Committee members will be doing the selection in an open roll call vote, as has been the party’s tradition since 1981.