LOCKPORT — Former Pendleton Town Highway Superintendent Jeffrey Stowell will avoid a year in jail for his admission that he engaged in official misconduct.
Niagara County Court Judge Matthew J. Murphy III instead sentenced Stowell Tuesday to two years of probation and 200 hours of community service. Stowell also previously resigned from his post and agreed not to seek public office or public employment again as part of a plea deal with Niagara County prosecutors.
Stowell, 61, pleaded guilty in March to one count of official misconduct, a Class A misdemeanor. The charge carried a potential penalty of up to a year in jail. However, Murphy made no commitment on a possible sentence at that time and noted Tuesday that Stowell had led a "largely blameless life."
Stowell, who had at points in the proceedings been combative over the question of his guilt, struck a more remorseful tone at his sentencing. He said he was sorry for "letting the people of Pendleton down."
Niagara County prosecutors originally charged Stowell with single counts of third- and fourth-degree grand larceny, official misconduct, theft of services, and three counts of petit larceny in connection with allegations that he stole town property and directed town employees to work on his personal property.
He also apologized on Tuesday for putting his employee in what he characterized as a "difficult position."
Prosecutors said the plea deal had the approval of Pendleton Town Supervisor Joel Maerten and investigators from the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, who handled the matter.
After his plea, Stowell said, "Today's the first day of retirement."
At the time of his indictment by a Niagara County grand jury, Executive Assistant District Attorney Mary Jean Bowman said that “Stowell allegedly used town equipment to deliver stone and other materials to his personal residence, and had town employees perform work at his personal residence and on his vehicle during work hours.”
Specifically, Stowell was accused of taking 72 tons of Suit-Kote stone material that had been purchased by the town and was valued at more than $12,800. He was also accused of billing the town for his purchase of a vehicle battery, windshield wipers and a headlight at a NAPA store.
Prosecutors leveled the official misconduct charge based on accusations that Stowell directed town employees to transport the Suit-Kote to his Campbell Boulevard residence on Nov. 27, 2019.
Stowell was the Pendleton highway superintendent for 17 years.