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Ex-Cohoes Mayor Morse Sentenced To Probation

Former Cohoes Mayor Shawn Morse will avoid prison after being sentenced to probation Wednesday afternoon at Federal Court in Albany.

The months-long legal and personal saga came to a conclusion Wednesday when Judge Thomas McAvoy sentenced Morse to two years of probation. Morse pleaded guilty in August to wire fraud. Authorities say the Democrat used more than $12,000 in campaign contributions for personal expenses.

Morse was fined $3,000 and instructed to perform 200 hours of community service. 

Prior to sentencing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Hanlon told McAvoy that Morse "has done great things and this conviction should not define him."  Morse said  "I'm just happy that the judge recognized all of my hard work. I'm excited that the prosecutor said that I've done great things for my city."

Morse told McAvoy he was embarrassed and disappointed that he hurt the people he loved. He apologized to the court, saying  "I have given more than I have ever taken from this world."

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Morse speaks with reporters outside the federal courthouse in Albany.

Morse told reporters gathered outside the federal courthouse in Albany that the people of Cohoes are his priority.

"I'm 52 years old and I've been serving them since I was about 18. I love them unconditionally, I'll continue to love them unconditionally. I'll continue to work hard for Cohoes."

Morse told reporters he believed Judge McAvoy's decision showed that Morse is  “a good man.” He alluded to headline grabbing family and marital problems that dogged him as mayor before he was removed from office by the common council. Morse had defied calls to resign from fellow county Democrats and the governor.    "If I have one regret in my whole life, I regret the fact that I was so busy taking care of everybody else that I missed what was going on in my own house, and I'll live with that forever."

Morse could have been given up to 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines. Morse lost a Democratic primary to retired State Police Major Bill Keeler, now mayor.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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