Sunmount employee abuse charges dropped

TUPPER LAKE – Charges against a Sunmount employee, accused of abusing a developmentally disabled resident at a local group home, have been dropped.

John P. Boyer, 51, of Tupper Lake, was charged with endangering the welfare of an incompetent person and official misconduct in June 2013. Boyer pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on his own recognizance, pending future court proceedings.

The case was adjudicated in contemplation of dismissal Wednesday in the Tupper Lake village court under the terms and conditions that Boyer seeks and obtains a mental health evaluation with an anger management component and follows through with any recommendations of that evaluation.

Franklin County Assistant District Attorney David Hayes also asked Tupper Lake Town Justice Leonard Young III that Boyer be retrained as directed by Sunmount.

“Finally, judge, I ask that Mr. Boyer remain arrest and conviction free, and I also note that this is Mr. Boyer’s first criminal arrest,” Hayes said.

The case against Boyer stems from incidents that allegedly occurred at a Tupper Lake individual residence alternative facility. Boyer, who has been employed as a direct support assistant, was tasked with providing personal care, treatment and rehabilitation services to four residents of the IRA with developmental disabilities.

Boyer allegedly admitted to authorities that between 2008 and 2009 he was verbally abusive toward a resident and later ranted about the incident in comments that were captured on a cell phone video recording, according to a press release. Boyer worked at Sunmount for 26 years.

His arrest was the result of a joint investigation by state Inspector General’s Office, state police and the state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities.

Boyer’s attorney, Brian Barrett, called the charges against Boyer ridiculous and an attempt to circumvent the human resources department at Sunmount. Barrett noted that Boyer was not fired for his alleged actions but was instead placed on administrative leave pending the litigation of the charges.

“The case against John Boyer was about about political showboating,” Barrett said. “This came from the superintendent of the state police and from inspector general Catherine Leahy Scott, who were both quoted in a press release issued at the time of Mr. Boyer’s arrest. It shocks my conscience that the superintendent of the New York state police would attempt to bastardize a member of the Tupper Lake community by using the media.”

Barrett was referring to a press release issued by state Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott dated June 23, 2013. In the release Leahy, Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne and New York state police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico are all quoted as applauding Boyer’s arrest as an example of the state’s zero-tolerance policy on abuse in facilities like Sunmount.

“Direct Support Assistants at OPWDD are responsible for ensuring the care and well-being of those among us who need it most,” Scott wrote in the release. “Mr. Boyer’s alleged conduct fell far below the standards New Yorkers expect and deserve. As was the case two months ago, we were able to remove a danger to residents living in this state facility, and the prosecution of Mr. Boyer should serve as a strong warning against any workers whose aggressive behavior endangers or abuses those in their care.”

The press release also stated that comments made by Boyer about abusing the resident were captured in a cell phone video. Barrett said the video does not prove the charges filed against Boyer.

“It may show some swearing and things like that, but it doesn’t show him hitting or anything that the superintendent of the state police or Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott tried to make people believe in the press release,” Barrett said. “This is Albany bureaucrats trying to make decisions for people who live and work in the North Country.”