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Lewis County refers sheriff to ethics board after he supported Jan. 6 rioter on official letterhead

Lewis County Sheriff Mike Carpinelli standing before a group of seated people.
Lewis County Sheriff Mike Carpinelli

Lewis County's legislature says Sheriff Mike Carpinelli's letter on behalf of a rioter who illegally entered the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was a violation of his own department's policies.

According to CBS News, Sheriff Mike Carpinelli wrote a letter to the court asking for leniency for William Tryon on official Lewis County stationary. He called Tryon, who is from the Albany area, "a good friend."

In a statement approved by all members of the county board of legislators, the lawmakers said Carpinelli "is entitled to his own opinion. However, using official County letterhead to advocate for individual interests unrelated to the operations of the Sheriff’s Office creates the appearance that the County of Lewis shares the views expressed by just a single elected official."

The legislature said it would refer the case to the county's board of ethics, as well as seek "an opinion from the United States Office of Special Council to review possible violations of the Hatch Act," which prohibits civil employees from engaging in certain forms of political activity.

Tryon pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of entering a restricted federal building. He was sentenced to 50 days in jail and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.

According to CBS, prosecutors said in their sentencing memo that Tryon led a confrontation between the mob and U.S. Capitol police and incited the rioters by chanting lyrics to the song, 'We're Not Gonna Take It.'

Carpinelli is currently running in the Republican primary for governor. He didn't return a call requesting comment.

David Sommerstein, a contributor from North Country Public Radio (NCPR), has covered the St. Lawrence Valley, Thousand Islands, Watertown, Fort Drum and Tug Hill regions since 2000. Sommerstein has reported extensively on agriculture in New York State, Fort Drum’s engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the lives of undocumented Latino immigrants on area dairy farms. He’s won numerous national and regional awards for his reporting from the Associated Press, the Public Radio News Directors Association, and the Radio-Television News Directors Association. He's regularly featured on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Only a Game, and PRI’s The World.