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Suspended Gouverneur police officer testifies for the first time Thursday

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GOUVERNEUR — After months of accusations and headlines, suspended Gouverneur police officer Steven M. Young had his turn to speak, recounting the feeling of first learning the accusations against him.

“It really shocked me,” he said Thursday in the village clerk’s offices, 33 Clinton St. “It threw me for a loop.”

He described the stir created at his home last September as he showed state police Senior Investigator Michael G. Ryan a gas key he used as fire chief for official business in his personal vehicle. Mr. Young said the investigator contacted him about someone spotting his personal vehicle at the village fuel pump, which he said was allowed as fire chief.

Separating one of the two keys from a ring he kept in the center console of his 2008 Dodge Ram truck, Mr. Young said the console snapped closed, creating a loud noise that immediately drew Mr. Ryan’s attention.

As Mr. Ryan looked into the vehicle following the noise, he saw the second key, and accused Mr. Young of concealing it.

“It kind of blew me right back,” Mr. Young said. “This guy ain’t here for just wanting to talk about my truck being seen at the gas pump. I don’t know what is going on now.”

Mr. Ryan repeated the accusation against Mr. Young during testimony in March, an accusation Mr. Young denied.

After the key incident, Mr. Young met the investigator later that day to write a statement.

“I had nothing to hide,” Mr. Young said to his attorney, Michael F. Young. Mr. Young and Michael Young are not related.

Mr. Young was suspended with pay in September pending a state police investigation into whether he inappropriately used village gasoline. The village suspended him without pay Dec. 30 and brought a series of Civil Service charges.

Witnesses called by the defense, including former and current fire department members, said the village had no formal policies for use of the gas pump, and no written list of which pumps were used by which department. With the village providing the department’s gas for free, fuel use was quickly skimmed over during annual reviews.

The accusations against Mr. Young came about two years after the investigated unspecified fuel losses, though a specific time was not stated during testimony. Department Secretary Mario Pistolesi said at that time, the department’s four fuel keys were collected and kept in the possession of Mr. Young and First Assistant Chief Thomas J. Conklin. After finding the fourth fuel key, the department could not determine where it came from, Mr. Pistolesi said.

He said the department’s investigation with motion-sensing cameras failed after members spotted the camera and “made funny faces” in front of it.

The department now logs its fueling, but Mr. Conklin said the village still can’t track distribution from individual pumps.

The fire department witnesses also alleged Mr. Ryan told them in interviews he and the village did not have much evidence against Mr. Young.

After about eight hours of testimony, the hearing adjourned before Mr. Young’s testimony ended, as Michael Young and village attorney Henry J. Leader discussed filings and documentation needed to continue.

The case will resume at 9 a.m. June 17.

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