Pendleton highway chief pleads not guilty

LOCKPORT -- A Niagara County grand jury has indicted Pendleton Highway Superintendent Jeffrey Stowell in connection with claims that he stole town property and directed town employees to work on his personal property.

Stowell has pleaded not guilty to single counts of third-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree grand larceny, official misconduct, theft of services, and three counts of petit larceny. He remains free on his own recognizance and is due back in court July 6, before Judge Matthew J. Murphy III.

Second Assistant District Attorney Mary Jean Bowman said in a statement that, "Stowell allegedly used town equipment to deliver stone and other materials to his personal residence, and had town employees perform work at his personal residence and on his vehicle during work hours."

Stowell, 59, had been facing charges of third-degree grand larceny, three counts of petit larceny and official misconduct in Wheatfield Town Court. His case was transferred there after his initial arraignment in Pendleton Town Court on Dec. 6, when the Pendleton town justices recused themselves from the case.

Prosecutors and Stowell's defense counsel had reportedly been discussing a possible plea deal in the case, prior to the grand jury action.

Stowell is specifically accused of taking 72 tons of Suit-Kote stone/material that had been purchased by the town and was valued at more than $12,800. He is also accused of purchasing a vehicle battery, windshield wipers and a headlight at a NAPA store and then billing the town.

Prosecutors leveled the official misconduct charge based on accusations that Stowell directed town employees to transport the Suit-Kote material to his Campbell Boulevard home on Nov. 27.

Defense attorney George Muscato said the town maintains a list of people who can use materials, like Suit-Kote, when the town needs to dispose of it. He said the town will even deliver the materials for a fee per load.

Muscato said Stowell had the material delivered to his house and fully intended to pay for the delivery. The defense attorney characterized the material as "valueless."

Bowman said Pendleton officials "have been fully cooperative with law enforcement throughout the investigation."

Recommended for you