Molloy Newspaper Case Ends with Dismissal

After three hearings, district attorney declines to prosecute

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

The Putnam County District Attorney’s Office on May 10 declined to prosecute Barney Molloy, chairman of the Putnam County Visitor’s Bureau board, for the disappearance of four newspapers from a bundle outside a Cold Spring coffee shop.

Assistant D.A. Patricia Rau told Judge Thomas Costello, of Cold Spring Justice Court, that after some “very thorough investigating” of financial records — Molloy’s debit card statements — “I am actually going to be declining to prosecute,” ending a misdemeanor case that stretched over nearly four months and involved four court appearances.

Cold Spring police arrested Molloy in January after weekday copies of The New York Times disappeared early in the morning on four occasions in November and December from outside the Cupoccino Café on Main Street.

During that period, Rau said Molloy’s debit card statements showed multiple purchases at Cupoccino. “That’s why I’m declining to prosecute,” she said.

“Who cares about the ‘financials?’” Costello responded. “He’s charged with petit larceny.”

“There was no intent to steal any property,” said Molloy’s lawyer, Steve Patterson. He said his client had paid for newspapers or other items faithfully, typically settling his account with Cupoccino at the end of a week.

Molloy declined comment before and after the hearing, during which the judge criticized his demeanor. “I’ve had a hard time with this case,” Costello said. “I’ve had a hard time with Mr. Molloy’s attitude,” which the judge said suggested he felt his conduct was above question.

The café owners “never said he paid for” the newspapers “and he made restitution [of $10], which means he didn’t pay” at the time, the judge said.

However, Costello continued, “the district attorney has made his decision. That’s fine.”

Outside the courtroom, Patterson said his client was “clearly not guilty” and the district attorney “agreed to that. It was dismissed. We wish it would have happened sooner.” In his opinion, he said, “this was merely an accounting error. We feel it’s a bogus complaint.”

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