Times Union: Lask Gets Assemblyman Katz Marijuana Charge Dismissed
KATZ GETS PLEA DEAL IN POT STOP
Assemblyman to perform 20 hours of community service, pay a $75 fine
Section: Main, Page: A3
Date: Friday, April 26, 2013
The marijuana case against Assemblyman Steve Katz went up in smoke Thursday when a town judge said he would dismiss the charge if the Westchester County Republican completes 20 hours of community service and pays a $75 fine for improper parking.
Katz, 59, of Mohegan Lake didn't appear at town court. But Town Justice Philip Crandall agreed to a plea on the parking charge, which is a violation.
The lawmaker was pulled over by a State Police officer on March 14 for allegedly speeding on the Thruway. The officer said at the time that he detected an odor of marijuana, and Katz reportedly was in possession of the substance.
But on Thursday, Manhattan attorney Susan Chana Lask questioned the marijuana report. While steadfastly refusing to say if Katz, to her knowledge, had or turned over any marijuana, she said there were difficulties in proving such a case against him.
"You can't believe everything that is reported," Chana Lask said after the plea. When asked if Katz had marijuana at the time, she said, "I wasn't there."
Court papers in the case indicate police confiscated 3.5 grams of marijuana in a plastic bag after Katz was pulled over for allegedly driving 80 mph in a 65 mph zone, court officials said.
Court officials said Chana Lask plea-bargained the case with Town Attorney Gregory Teresia to a parking violation, a common outcome for low-level marijuana cases, which are violations.
Katz was not charged with driving under the influence.
Last year, Katz voted against legalization of medicinal marijuana, and he has spoken out against what he views as the lax morals in the state Capitol, as well as against drunken driving and drug abuse.
Katz is a veterinarian and Chana Lask said he will likely perform some sort of volunteer work with animals to fulfill his community service requirement.
Katz issued a brief statement after the March incident, saying "... This should not overshadow the work I have done over the years for the public and my constituency."