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Dalton town clerk acquitted of taking $100, police never checked if money was missing
LANCASTER - In a case that her attorney said afterward never should have been brought to trial, longtime Dalton Town Clerk Sandy York was acquitted late Monday on a misdemeanor charge of taking money from town funds.
After listening to three hours of testimony and watching a security video tape that appeared to show York putting cash in her pocketbook, Lancaster District Court Judge Paul D. Dejardans declared that the state had failed to prove its case. He found York not guilty as a group of her family and other supporters broke into applause.
The charge was brought by Dalton Police Chief Mario Audit. His department lieutenant, Chris St. Cyr –- who is not an attorney –- served as prosecutor.
The department's case appeared to be in trouble almost from the outset. Under questioning by York's attorney, Leonard Harden, Audit admitted that he had not bothered to find out whether any money was actually missing from the town funds. He also testified that neither he nor any other town officials had ever questioned York on the charge, and never gave her the opportunity to explain her actions on the videotape of last Aug. 9.
Defense witnesses testified that it had long been York's habit to take cash and either go to a bank herself, of have others make a bank run for her to replenish her office's cash supply, particularly in the small denominations needed to make change.
Harden told Dejardans that's also what she did on Aug. 9, after she closed for the day, and later brought the register cash back to her office.
A Dalton tax collector and deputy town clerk who worked with York for 14 years testified that the cash drawer was full and in the proper denominations, as usual, when she came to work on the first business day after York's Aug. 9 shift.
Outside the courthouse as darkness fell, Harden said York -– who did not testify and has refused public comment throughout –- had been put through a miserable and needless four-month public ordeal since her arrest.
“This case never should have been brought to trial. No crime was ever committed. It's been an agonizing process for Sandy. They call it a trial and that's just what it is,” he said.
It was not clear late Monday whether York, an elected town officer with more than three decades on the job, would return as Dalton's clerk or retire. She has been on leave since being charged.
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