A Town Council member is fighting a subpoena that compels him to explain his ties to proposed wind-farm projects in Burke.
David Vincent, who began a four-year term in January 2006, is to appear in Franklin County Court today to show why he should not have to answer questions or turn over documents relating to his possible personal connection to Noble Chateaugay Windpark, Noble Energy, Jericho Rise Windpark and Burke Wind Power.
In a subpoena from District Attorney Derek Champagne on March 24, Vincent was asked for all correspondence, contracts, receipts, leases, purchase agreements, options or communications that he may have had with any representatives of the wind-farm projects proposed in the towns of Chateaugay, Burke and Bellmont for the years 2006, 2007 and 2008.
But Vincent, through his attorney, Brian Barrett of Lake Placid, refused to comply and attempted to have a judge quash the subpoena.
His argument was that the information Champagne was seeking “is testimonial in nature” and would violate his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and his 14th Amendment right to privacy.
Vincent also claimed the subpoena “is tantamount to a fishing expedition and overly broad and burdensome” and said it would also violate his Fourth Amendment rights against search and seizure.
The argument against answering the subpoena also cites: untimely issuance of the document, the information sought is not relevant to any ongoing grand-jury investigation, it was issued in bad faith on Champagne’s part and that the district attorney is trying to use the subpoena in place of a proper search warrant.
According to paperwork filed with the County Clerk’s Office, Acting Supreme Court Judge Robert G. Main Jr. rejected Vincent’s attempt to quash the subpoena on Friday and ordered him to appear in court at 9 a.m. today.
Vincent said Monday that he could not comment further.
Noble Environmental Power is building 72 towers in Chateaugay and 14 in the Town of Bellmont, south of U.S Route 11 and east of State Route 374.
The company already has wind-farm projects producing power in Clinton County.
The court battle comes at the same time Champagne has asked the County Legislature to adopt a standard code of ethics for not only itself but for each municipality to follow.
He also called for the legislators to create a board of ethics that will determine if there is a conflict of interest for elected officials who are unsure when an issue comes before their particular governing body.
Champagne had said a probe by his office turned up “several contracts, easements, lease-option agreements, cooperation memoranda and other types of documents” where elected officials and third-party interests overlap.
He said those relationships could reach the level of bribery of a public official, though he would not name any specific individuals who might face charges.
All of the information he gathered was forwarded to the New York State Attorney General’s Office and the Office of the Inspector General.
By Denise A. Raymo
7 April 2008
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