Haskell files for unemployment, county fighting claim

THURMAN - The Thurman Town Board and Warren County both received a letter from the state Dept. of Labor this week indicating that former Supervisor John Haskell has applied for unemployment benefits. The letter asks the municipalities to either confirm or refute the claim depending on its validity.

Haskell was removed from office after he was convicted last month of defrauding the government, a felony. The jury found that Haskell had altered documents in order to grant himself a land easement - a right-of-way to a landlocked piece of property he owned.

The county has sent forms back to the state refuting the claim, but as of Tuesday, the town hadn't made a decision over what to do about it.

County officials said they responded to the state citing their legal advice that Haskell does not qualify for unemployment benefits due the circumstances surrounding his departure from office, officials said.

"He just doesn't qualify for unemployment plain and simple," County Administrator Hal Payne said Tuesday.

The county's decision was based on Warren County Attorney Paul Dusek's understanding of New York State Law, Payne said.

As of Tuesday, Thurman Town officials had yet to decide how they'd respond to the unemployment claim sent them by the state.

Supervisors receive pay primarily from their hometowns, but also smaller stipends from the county.

According to the state Dept. of Labor, if the town board doesn't refute the claim, Haskell would receive $2,835 or $405 per week for the first seven weeks, compensating him for the loss of the town-sponsored portion of his pay. Haskell could potentially receive benefits for 26 weeks, all of which would come directly out of town coffers.

County officials said this week that unlike businesses, municipalities pay 100 percent of the unemployment compensation rather than claims merely boost insurance rates.

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