Arrested CNY Assembly Candidate Says State Police Being Used to Play Politics
One of the Republican candidates vying for the 118th New York State Assembly District was arrested this week on accusations he double-dipped on a property tax benefit for veterans.
Robert Smullen was entitled to the benefit - as a retired Colonel in the US Marine Corps - but a release from New York State Police says Smullen filed paperwork for the exemption on a property he owns in Niskayuna, while having already received the veterans' exemption at his primary residence in Fulton County.
He's charged with a felony count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing.
Smullen says has already paid partial restitution for the tax benefit he improperly received and accuses the State Police of playing politics at the behest of his GOP primary opponent, Patrick Vincent.
Smullen has he became aware of the 'mistake' at the end of April, then acted quickly to correct it.
''I immediately went to the Town of Niskayuna and asked for an exemption to be removed and received a notice of exemption removal. Since then, I've actually paid back the school district portion of the taxes, and the town tax portion will be put on my new tax bill through a re-levy process,'' Smullen told Keeler in the Morning on Wednesday, one day after being charged and arrested for the filing.
''It's very disappointing that the state of politics in New York is such that candidates get arrested for entering races and putting their name out there and trying to do the work-of-the-people-sort-of-thing. I fully intend to see this through in a court of law and I'm sure I'll prevail,'' Smullen said appearing on WIBX First News with Keeler in the Morning on Wednesday, just one day after his arrest.
When asked why then, in his opinion, he would still be arrested, Smullen said, ''That's where the dirty politics comes in. This is really a product of the Patrick Vincent campaign...they've attempted to turn the State Police into a political weapon. I think it's utterly despicable.''
Pressed further about his accusation that State Police would make arrests for political motivation, Smullen said, ''Well, this was all initiated because of a political campaign. You know I respect the State Police, and when they called me I immediately went to the barracks and we've gone forward from there - and I look forward to having my opportunity to explain myself according to the justice system. This campaign has been extremely nasty right from the beginning.''
Vincent talked about the accusation against his opponent and the counter accusation of a politically motivated arrest. The Utica OD quoted Vincent saying, “our dedicated law enforcement officers do not get involved in political campaigns...obviously, when the state police saw the documents signed by Mr. Smullen under penalty of perjury, they knew a crime had been committed. Now Mr. Smullen, you must answer to the taxpayers and the Veterans’ Administration.''
Regarding the legal claim against him for filing a false instrument, Smellen said, ''I don't even recall reviewing or signing the paperwork at this point, in the town of Niskayuna. And I've moved all over the place, I've been to lots of different places. It had to do with the purchase of the house in Niskayuna. I made a mistake, and when the mistake was pointed out I immediately corrected it.''
The two will face off in a September primary for the seat currently held by Republican Marc Butler, who is not seeking re-election. The winner would face Democrat Keith Rubino in November.