WENY News - Man accused of stealing campaign sign reaches deal with Steuben

Man accused of stealing campaign sign reaches deal with Steuben County DA

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TOWN OF CORNING, N.Y. (WENY) – The man accused of stealing a sign and GPS tracker belonging to Congressman Tom Reed's 2018 campaign has reportedly reached a plea deal with the Steuben County District Attorney's Office.

Over the summer, 70-year-old Gary McCaslin reportedly picked up several campaign signs from a median on State Route 352, including one belonging to Congressman Reed's campaign.

The Reed sign reportedly had a GPS tracker embedded into it. Reed campaign manager Nick Weinstein said the device was utilized after other campaign signs were taken, often from the same location on Route 352.

Using the tracker, Weinstein went to McCaslin's home to confront him. In the exchange, which was recorded on video, Weinstein demanded the tracking device be returned and McCaslin implored him to call the police. Weinstein did and McCaslin was arrested and charged with Petit Larceny.

McCaslin's attorney, Christina Sonsire, argued that the sign was picked up without political bias, saying McCaslin picked up several signs, including those of candidates Linda Andrei and Max Della Pia, because it was after the primary election and he believed they were discarded.

Sonsire said McCaslin was holding onto the tracking device as he was unsure whether or not it was legal. On July 5, the same day as the confrontation, Sonsire says her client went to Reed's campaign office to return the device, but they wouldn't accept it.

McCaslin, who works with the grassroots organization “Citizens for a Better Southern Tier”, entered a not guilty plea later in July. The Steuben County District Attorney's Office offered him a plea deal in which all charges would be dismissed in six months so long as McCaslin didn't break the law in that period of time and wrote a letter to the Reed campaign, apologizing for causing inconvenience.

Sonsire initially denied the motion because she argued it could still be seen as an admission of guilt.

Today, the motion of adjournment filed is a no-strings attached adjournment, meaning the charges have been immediately dismissed against McCaslin and does not need to issue an apology letter. 

“I am pleased that Gary McCaslin accepted the offer from the District Attorney allowing this matter to be resolved,” Weinstein said in a statement to WENY News. “We suggested an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal would be appropriate to the District Attorney’s office at the outset of these criminal proceedings and the District Attorney extended this offer to Gary McCaslin at their first appearance. We are pleased that Gary McCaslin and his attorneys have finally accepted an offer now that the political scrutiny on the matter has subsided.”

Sonsire disputed this statement, saying the offer accepted today is not the same offer that was brought forward at the beginning of the case, which would have required that six month wait period for the charges to be dropped and for McCaslin to issue an apology to Reed. 

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