Smithtown Highway Superintendent Glenn Jorgensen pleaded guilty Friday to felony and misdemeanor charges for allegedly falsifying documents on a November paving project, hours after submitting his resignation to town officials.
Jorgensen, 63, of St. James, pleaded guilty in State Supreme Court in Riverhead to a felony charge of offering a false instrument for filing, and a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct as part of a plea deal with the Suffolk County district attorney's office.
State Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen conditionally accepted the plea agreement, which calls for 4 months in jail or a 560-month community service alternative. Under New York State's public officer's law, the felony conviction bans Jorgensen from elected office.
"The decision today to plead guilty was not an easy one to make," said Anthony La Pinta, Jorgensen's Hauppauge-based criminal defense attorney, after the plea. "We spent a considerable amount of time discussing the case, conferencing it over the past nine months. But considering a number of factors, including the 43 years of service that Glenn has given to the town, his age and health issues that he is experiencing now, we felt that it would be the best move for himself and his family to enter this plea and for him to move on."
Jorgensen did not address the media. His wife, Kathy, said only that she loved and supported her husband.
La Pinta said that at 9 a.m. Friday, with Jorgensen's approval, he contacted Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio and explained that Jorgensen was resigning.
Town attorney Matthew Jakubowski said deputy highway superintendent Robert Murphy will immediately assume Jorgensen's duties.
"The town board could also elect to fill the vacancy by appointment . . . The appointed person would hold office until Dec. 31, 2016," Jakubowski said.
An election will be held in November 2016 for the remainder of Jorgensen's term, which ends on Dec. 31, 2017, Jakubowski added. In November 2017, an election will take place for the full, four-year highway superintendent term, he said.
Jorgensen was elected highway superintendent in 2009 and re-elected in 2013. He was responsible for managing the department's budget of more than $25 million -- nearly a quarter of Smithtown's 2015 budget of $104.5 million.
Jorgensen, who was initially charged April 1 in First District Court in Central Islip, also faced three other felony counts -- tampering with public records; falsifying business records; and grand larceny. If convicted on all charges, he faced up to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison, district attorney officials had said.
In April, Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Melisa Bliss said Jorgensen destroyed Smithtown highway road condition reports that he knew contained false information about temperatures when the paving work was done Nov. 18.
A June 1 report from Babylon-based engineering consultant Greenman-Pedersen Inc. concluded that four of the roads, which were in Smithtown and St. James, should last their normal eight- to 12-year span, based on pavement core test findings and visual inspections.