A former Fremont town justice is facing a felony count

A former Fremont town justice is facing a felony count after being charged by Steuben County Sheriff’s investigators Wednesday afternoon in connection with missing fine payments.

Bret Carver, 53, of Main Street, Hornell is charged with first-degree falsifying business records, a class E felony carrying a maximum of four years imprisonment if convicted.

According to a release from the sheriff’s office, Carver allegedly made a false entry regarding a traffic ticket in the monthly justice report filed with the state. In the one charge, a ticket was issued in July 2010, and the person allegedly pled guilty in August 2010 and paid a $190 fine.

The former justice then allegedly kept the fine payment for himself and reported to the state that the ticket was dismissed.

Carver was arraigned in Bath village court Wednesday and was remanded to the county jail in lieu of $5,000 cash or $10,000 bond. He is scheduled to reappear in court at 3 p.m. on Sept. 14 to answer the charge.

Sheriff Joel Ordway said similar incidents are still being identified, and that the investigation has revealed more than $2,000 in missing court payments.

Ordway added that Carver confessed to the one charge, and admitted to other incidents of theft that are still being investigated.

The investigation started after the Office of Court Administration notified Ordway of irregularities found in the court records in Fremont while Carver was justice. The investigation spanned three weeks, with the sheriff’s office working with the OCA, the state Comptroller’s Office, Fremont’s new justice, Betsey Farley, and the Steuben County District Attorney’s Office.

Carver was elected as town justice in 2006 and his first term ended in December 2010. He resigned in early 2011, and admitted to the Tribune then that he failed to send fines in as quickly as the state wanted. Carver also said that a state audit of the town pointed out he needed to improve his “financial bookkeeping.”

The town has also received a state draft audit of the court records from Carver’s term as justice in July, which hasn’t been made public yet.

Trustee Bert Candee said he wasn’t sure what Carver would be charged with, but he was glad the investigation didn’t last too long.

“So much was going on with the records. They were so sloppily kept. We weren’t really sure what was going on,” said Candee.

Ordway said new incidents of missing money are still coming in as Farley is sending letters to those who were facing fines and court appearances during Carver’s years as justice. Ordway said people have responded to the letters, informing the town whether they appeared in court or if they paid a fine.

“They’ve been responding, mostly in person. Some are showing receipts and saying they paid fines in cash,” said Ordway.

The responses so far from Farley’s efforts, said the sheriff, have shown that approximately $2,000 remains unaccounted for.

The sheriff added that Carver has cooperated with the investigation.

“He’s admitted to every one we’ve spoken to him about so far,” said Ordway. “There will be more out there. There’s absolutely more.”