Sheriff criticized after vouching for Jan. 6 defendant

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LOWVILLE, N.Y. (AP) — An upstate New York sheriff who used his official letterhead to vouch for the “good character” of a man who pleaded guilty to a charge related to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot violated department policy, according to county officials.

Republican Lewis County Sheriff Michael Carpinelli, who is running for governor, wrote to a federal judge last month “on behalf of my good friend” William Tryon, who pleaded guilty in October to a misdemeanor charge of entering a restricted building on Capitol grounds.

The letter was among many written on behalf of the Albany-area resident, who was sentenced last week to 50 days in jail.

The Lewis County Board of Legislators released a statement critical of the letter Tuesday, shortly after CBS News reported on its existence. The board said the sheriff is entitled to his personal opinion.

“However, using official County letterhead to advocate for individual interests unrelated to the operations of the Sheriff’s Office creates the appearance that the County of Lewis shares the views expressed by just a single elected official,” they wrote.

The county is referring this issue to its ethics board for review. Also, the county attorney is requesting an opinion from federal officials to review possible violations to civil service rules related to political activity.

An email seeking comment was sent to Carpinelli.