YATES COUNTY CRIMINAL COURT: Former Potter town clerk/tax collector sentenced

John Christensen
The Chronicle Express

Julie A. Brown stole over $20,000 in cash fees to town; spent in bars and casinos

Brown

PENN YAN — The former Town clerk and tax collector of the Town of Potter has been sentenced following her plea and conviction in Yates County Criminal Court on five felonies and one misdemeanor charging her with grand larceny, corruption, record tampering, fraud, and official misconduct.

Julie A. Brown, 49, of Upper Hill Road, Middlesex, was elected and employed as town clerk and tax collector from Jan. 1, 2018, until the spring of 2019. During that time, she stole over $20,000 in cash payments made to the town for marriage licenses, dog licenses, hunting permits, building permits, and tax payments. 

Brown pleaded guilty March 23 to one count of grand larceny as a crime of public corruption (a class C felony), one count of second-degree corrupting of government (a class C felony), two counts of first-degree tampering with public records (a class D felony), one count of first-degree scheme to defraud (a class E felony), and one of count official misconduct (class A misdemeanor). Her plea was made in exchange for a sentence cap of two to six years in state prison.

Probation interviewers reported Brown had started stealing almost immediately after her election, and spent the money going to bars and gambling in casinos. When the money was finally missed when $20,000 was due to be paid to Yates County, Brown said the money was lost, claiming she left a deposit bag on the roof of her car. Her lie caused police to waste their time looking for it on the roadsides.

"I'm really sorry," said Brown before being sentenced. "There is no excuse. I have no excuse."

Judge Jason L. Cook said, "You were given the public trust, but took advantage of it for your own benefit. It shocks the conscience of this court."

After hearing that Brown has repaid $20,000 of the $26,728.71 in restitution she owes the town, is working to repay the rest, and has no prior record, Cook sentenced her to six months in the Yates County Jail followed byfive years probation. He ordered that the $6,728.71 remaining must be paid within one year. Cook waived any fine so that all the money would go to making the town whole. 

“The Yates County Sheriff’s Criminal Investigation Division appreciated the professional assistance of the N.Y.S. Comptroller’s Office in this 2019 criminal investigation for embezzlement,” stated Sheriff Ron Spike. “A public office is a public trust, and when an official allegedly violates their oath of office for personal gain they must be brought to justice.”