Niagara Gazette — It appears that Town of Niagara Supervisor Steven Richards will not be going to trial on Monday on public corruption charges.
Multiple sources tell the Gazette that Richards’ defense team and prosecutors with the New York State Attorney General’s Office are on the verge of a deal that would see Richards plead guilty to one of the charges in a now 23-count indictment he faces and step down from office.
Neither the attorney general’s office nor Richards’ attorneys would comment on what have been described as “ongoing talks” aimed at reaching a deal in the case.
Jury selection in a trial for Richards had been set for this coming Monday. Instead, Buffalo-based State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Burns is slated to be at the Niagara County courthouse in Lockport that day for what has been listed as a “conference and hearing.”
Richards did not appear at a public information meeting on a proposed new development in the town on Tuesday night. A source with intimate knowledge of the investigation said Richards has cleaned out his office at the town hall.
“Aside from a box of personal articles, the office appears to be in condition for someone else to move in,” the source said.
Richards’ lawyers and state prosecutors were reportedly set to meet with Burns on Tuesday to outline their deal and seek the justice’s approval. That meeting did not take place.
Sources told the Gazette that was because the deal “is not final.” Reportedly, there is no agreement yet on which of the 23 charges Richards will plead guilty to.
Potential restitution from Richards to the town is also still being discussed. Sources said there has been no firm agreement on what Richards might pay or how and when the payment would take place.
Richards resignation or retirement as town supervisor is also reported to be part of the plea discussions. The supervisor’s confidential secretary, Patti Wallace, told the Gazette she has not received any retirement paperwork from Richards.