Former Poquott Civic Association President Edward Schmidt may be off the hook concerning charges of stealing funds from the civic group in 2015.
Schmidt, 24, recently received an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office for charges filed against him in 2015, according to his lawyer Tad Scharfenberg. Schmidt, who is also one of Poquott’s former deputy mayors, was accused of stealing more than $20,000 from the civic association in August 2015.
The adjournment notification means in October, two counts of petit larceny against Schmidt will most likely be dismissed. A felony grand larceny charge previously filed was already dropped in 2016. The charges were for incidents between September 2013 and May 2014, when the civic association alleged the former president used money for non-association expenses such as gas for his personal vehicle, clothing and dining at gourmet restaurants.
In a phone interview, Scharfenberg said Schmidt has always pleaded not guilty to the accusations, and while he has sent the civic association $10,000 in total, he never made an admission of guilt.
Scharfenberg also said Schmidt made a good business decision by sending the association money, as litigation would have cost him more in the end.
“I think it was an outrage that charges were brought in the first place,” the lawyer, and former prosecutor, said.
Scharfenberg said Schmidt was only 19 when he became president of the civic association and was organizing large events such as a holiday party and fish fry. He said he felt the former civic association president might have been too young to handle such large events even though the lawyer said the now 24-year-old is a highly motivated individual.
“He got a lot of the young people in the community involved in the events they ran,” he said. However, the lawyer said, “He didn’t keep good records.”
Scharfenberg said he believes Schmidt simply was caught up in the politics while he was involved in the civic association.
“[The prosecutors] did the right thing come the end of the day,” the lawyer said, adding Schmidt is ready to move on.
“He’s a good young man, and he’s going to go on from here,” Scharfenberg said.
Current Poquott Civic Association president Carol Pesek said the board would also like to see the community put the incident behind them, but the board members believe they followed the letter of the law.
“Our board represents the membership,” Pesek said. “We persevered undeterred by ongoing harassment from some who chose to ignore the facts despite being invited to view all of the financial records.”