by Carol Thompson
The allegation of backdating legal documents in the Oswego County Clerk’s office surfaced during a committee meeting earlier this week.
Legislator Jake Mulcahey raised the issue during Wednesday’s meeting of the legislature’s Community and Consumer Affairs Committee. He said he had received three telephone calls from people with concerns of the impropriety of backdating documents. Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler said he had also received a call from an abstractor who was concerned with the alleged backdating.
The clerk’s office had three index clerks working in the court records department. One of those employees, Claudia Gamble, was promoted to senior index clerk at the first of the year and moved to the land records department. The vacancy left in court records was never filled, although Mulcahey said that when he spoke with County Clerk George Williams six to eight weeks ago, he was told the process was underway to hire another person.
Williams said he has someone starting, however, because it is a county employee, he has to give notice and will need two weeks to train.
The shortage of staff resulted in the mail getting behind, hence, important documents were not being filed in a timely manner.
Deputy Clerk of Operations Matthew Bacon allegedly instructed the employees to backdate the documents, including liens and judgments.
During Wednesday’s meeting, Bacon defended the action. “We ran into a backlog of mail that was being received in our court records section,” he told the committee. “When it was actually indexed and scanned into the system, it reflected the proper date of receiving.”