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Times Union: Lask Meets NY Press for Assemblyman Katz




Assemblyman makes plea deal in marijuana stop

Assemblyman to perform 20 hours of community service, pay a $75 fine


By Rick Karlin

Updated 10:32 pm, Thursday, April 25, 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.

Susan Chana Lask Meets Reporters in Assemblyman Katz Case

Assemblyman Stephen Katz's lawyer, Susan Lask, talks to reporters after appearing on behalf of the lawmaker in Coeymans Town Courton Thursday, April 25, 2013. (Skip Dickstein / Times Union)

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."

Susan Chana Lask Meets Reporters April 2013

Attorney Susan Lask, left, representing Assemblyman Stephen Katz holds a press briefing after the proceeding that has the case against Katz dismissed April 25, 2013 in Coeymans, N.Y. town court. Katz will also have to serve 20 hours of community service. Assemblyman Katz was stopped by Troopers on the State Thruway and marijuana was allegedly found in the car earlier this year. (Skip Dickstein/Times Union)

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."