Ogdensburg rejects investigation of mayor

Ogdensburg Mayor Jeffery M. Skelly

OGDENSBURG — Two local courts have now declined to take a case against Ogdensburg Mayor Jeffrey M. Skelly after Ogdensburg and Canton judges recused themselves from the matter.

State police Troop B Public Information Officer Jennifer Fleishman said Friday morning the incident is “pending investigation and no one has been charged to date.”

But according to a complaint filed Dec. 29 in City Court, Mr. Skelly is alleged to have physically harassed a person Dec. 9 outside City Hall. A second-degree harassment violation for physical contact is listed on the complaint, prepared by Trooper Daniel J. Mahaffey at the Ogdensburg state police barracks.

Under state penal law, a conviction for a violation may carry up to 15 days in jail.

The case was moved to Canton Town Court on Monday, where town justices also recused themselves, according to Canton Court Clerk Marc Armstrong. Mr. Armstrong said the case was kicked back to St. Lawrence County Court Judge Gregory P. Storie to determine a viable local court option.

Following a similarly alleged incident, state police in October issued city firefighter Brian L. Kirby a criminal summons on a second-degree harassment charge after a physical contact incident was reported to have occurred at City Council’s Sept. 28 meeting. A fourth shift firefighter and EMT, according to the city website, Mr. Kirby was among dozens of people who gathered outside City Hall that day to protest Stephen P. Jellie’s appointment as permanent city manager.

Mr. Jellie, who also serves as acting fire chief, said he filed a police complaint of workplace violence after Mr. Kirby attempted to push through City Hall doors as officials were letting people into the building.

The Ogdensburg Police Department, then state police were called to City Hall ahead of the Dec. 9 special meeting to pass the 2021 city budget. A few dozen demonstrators concerned about staffing cuts to the fire department had lined Ford and Caroline streets.

Describing the altercation at the Caroline Street door to the building that day, Mr. Skelly previously told the Times he was wrongfully accused of pushing now retired city Fire Capt. Gerald H. Mack, who he remembers saying, “If you touch me you are getting arrested.”

Mr. Skelly said Mr. Mack was blocking his path, then fell to the ground and claimed he had been pushed.

The mayor did not respond to requests for comment Thursday evening or this morning, but he told WWNY-TV, or 7 News, the “ploy to bring false charges” against him “changes nothing” about his position on fire department staffing cuts.

Escalating contention over staffing requirements written into the city’s current contract with the firefighters’ union, Ogdensburg Professional Firefighters Local 1799, continues to be litigated in state Supreme Court in St. Lawrence County. The latest suit was filed by the city Thursday against the union.

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