- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 1, 2021

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -– A New York county executive was arrested Wednesday on allegations that he stole $3,500 in campaign funds to pay off his personal debts, Attorney General Letitia James said.

Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin, 58, faces a maximum sentence of seven years in prison if convicted, James said in a news release.

McLaughlin, a Republican, could also be removed from office if convicted of the felony charges. McLaughlin and his attorney Benjamin Hill didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

He allegedly withdrew $5,000 from his campaign fund in November 2017, according to James, a Democrat whose office led the investigation of McLaughlin. The county executive resigned from his seat as a state Assemblymember in January 2018.

In November 2017, McLaughlin faced a personal dispute with a staffer over $3,500 personal debt owed to the staffer and McLaughlin‘s possession of the staffer’s laptop and iPad.

McLaughlin then directed the withdrawal of $5,000 from his campaign fund, according to James. That check was deposited into his consulting firm’s bank account, and a principal at the firm drafted a $3,500 bank check and delivered it to the staffer along with the laptop and iPad.

McLaughlin was arrested and indicted Wednesday on a count of third-degree grand larceny, according to the attorney general’s office.

He was also charged with offering a false instrument for filing.

That charge stems from allegations that McLaughlin filed a state campaign report in December 2017 claiming that the campaign expenditure was for “consulting.”

He was arraigned in Rensselaer County court and released on his own recognizance.

McLaughlin won reelection by a landslide in October.

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