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Castile judge resigns after fired court clerk is arrested in raid

A woman who was fired as former Castile Town Court clerk after irregularities surfaced was arrested Wednesday following a raid on the North Main Street home she shared with the son of Castile Town Judge Ronald J. Carmichael, who owns the house.

Katherine Ryan, 45, remained in Wyoming County Jail on Friday, pending further proceedings on felony court theft and drug charges in Perry Town Court, according to Wyoming County District Attorney Donald G. O’Geen.

The raid followed a one-and-a-half-year investigation prompted by Town Supervisor Steve Tarbell’s complaints about financial irregularities in the court’s bank account. Ryan is accused of stealing $36,271 in court fines and fees – a sum never reported by the clerk between 2009 and December 2013, when she was fired by the Castile Town Board, authorities said.

Ryan also was charged with growing marijuana and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. State Police said they raided the second-floor bedroom she shared with the judge’s son. Police said they found more than 60 marijuana plants, drug paraphernalia and small amounts of methamphetamine.

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the raid, Carmichael submitted his resignation as judge, effective July 30.

The district attorney, who noted Carmichael, his wife and son have not been charged in the case, said the investigation is continuing and “additional charges are pending.”

O’Geen also said he has notified the State Judicial Conduct Commission about the theft from the court.

“... All judges are personally responsible for the actions of their clerks and they are tasked with providing certain checks and balances on a daily and monthly basis,” the district attorney said.

Carmichael could not be reached to comment Friday.

O’Geen also said that although Ryan took some files from Castile Town Judge Alphonse A. Milillo, his “court records were found to be in stellar condition.”

“I want to thank Town Supervisor Steve Tarbell for being a steward of the public’s money,” O’Geen said. “Because Tarbell acted on a citizen complaint, he was able to uncover a major issue with the court funds and a massive fraud on the people of Castile and the State of New York.”

Tarbell, meanwhile, said he believes the state needs to impose “tighter controls to make sure all (town and village) judges are reconciling their deposits monthly, making sure cases are not deleted from the system and making sure all cases have been created after tickets have been issued.

“In my opinion,” Tarbell said, “there are not enough auditors throughout the state to watchdog over these courts.”