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Judge overturns Heuvelton man’s conviction for falsifying records at Alex Bay port

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A federal judge has tossed the conviction of a Heuvelton man convicted at trial of falsifying records while working as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent at the Alexandria Bay Port of Entry.

Todd Tyo, 48, was found guilty in December in U.S. District Court, Utica, of two counts of falsifying records after being accused in an indictment of embezzling more than $1,000 from March to August of that year while inspecting commercial trucks coming into the United States from Canada while working as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent. In a decision issued Thursday, Judge David N. Hurd ruled that their was insufficient evidence to support the verdict that came after a six-day trial. The jury found that Mr. Tyo kept entry fees of $10.75 for two trucks, but Judge Hurd said the jury should not have found that he “knowingly and willfully” did so.

“In fact, the evidence to establish that Tyo kept those two trucks entry fees “for himself” was so speculative as to be almost, if not completely, nonexistent,” the judge wrote in his decision.

He said the evidence that Mr. Tyo falsified records with the intent to steal money was inconsistent with its acquitting him of other counts that he embezzled money. He said that the jury’s reliance on the fact that Mr. Tyo recorded two “no sales” in his records was not enough to support a criminal conviction of wrongdoing.

“Otherwise, any accidental, inadvertent, mistaken or innocent reason for pressing the “No Sale” button after receiving a $10.75 entry fee would be a federal crime, That cannot be,” Judge Hurd wrote. “In fact, the evidence demonstrated that such acts occurred on a daily basis at the Alexandria Bay Port of Entry by various truck attendants. As described by one witness, it was a very “sloppy” operation.”

The judge said there was no evidence to support that any money was missing, much less that Mr. Tyo took any. He acquitted Mr. Tyo of the two convictions and dismissed the indictment.

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