Elizabethtown Two days after reports surfaced about a criminal investigation into the Essex County Clerk’s Office, the Essex County Board of Supervisors debated whether they could talk about the matter in executive session.
In the end, the board opted against the session, and instead decided to allow the matter to be handled through the county ethics board.
A newspaper in Fulton, Oswego County, also named the Valley News, reported over the weekend that Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne has been assigned as a special prosecutor concerning possible improprieties with Essex County’s bidding process and specifically the awarding of a contract for a digital imaging and indexing system at the clerk’s office.
Reports also stated that Champagne was appointed as the special prosecutor after the Essex County District Attorney’s Office recused itself from the case.
The issue stems from the awarding of a contract to Info Quick Solutions of Liverpool for $76,800 annually, under the recommendation of County Clerk Joseph Provoncha, which was not the lowest bid.
The investigation also pertains to e-mails that were exchanged between Info Quick representatives and the clerk’s office which were acquired by the Fulton County newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act.
At the Oct. 3 meeting of the county board, attorney Daniel Manning asked for an executive session to discuss the, “employment history of a particular person or persons,” and that the matter may or may not relate to Provoncha and some of the employees within the office.
“In your opinion, is it appropriate for this board to be in executive session concerning an elected official,” questioned Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston.
“I would say yes,” Manning responded.
Moriah Supervisor Thomas “Tom” Scozzafava was the biggest opponent of the executive session, stating that if it were him as an elected official being questioned, he would want everything to be out in the open.