Police: County historian stole coffee maker

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County Historian Peter C. Betz stole a Keurig coffee maker from the county office building where he works and replaced it with another one, city police said.

Betz, also a Perth town councilman, was charged with petit larceny, a misdemeanor, after police received a complaint from the office of Fulton County District Attorney Louise K. Sira, police said.

Police said Betz, 70, of 178 Noonan Road, Perth, was charged at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

“We learned that Mr. Betz had replaced a second coffee unit with the one that was stolen from the grand jury room,” Police Lt. David Gilbo said.

Police said Betz took the coffee maker from the county grand jury room in the basement of the Fulton County Office Building, 223 W. Main St., at 3:30 p.m. April 9. The unit was a Keurig commercial-use coffee maker that police valued at about $125.

Fulton County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said today Betz has been suspended from his position as historian.

Gilbo said there was no misunderstanding between Betz – whose county historian office is down the hall from the grand jury room – and Sira’s office.

“I believe it was a straight theft and obviously a misjudgment,” the detective said. “I think it was not a mistake.”

Gilbo said an employee in Sira’s office noticed the Keurig commercial-use unit was gone from the grand jury room one day and checked with other employees in Sira’s office. The employee also checked with people who had keys to the room – such as Stead – to determine if the unit was innocently missing. Subsequent to that investigation, a staff member from Sira’s office later noticed the unit had been replaced by another Keurig residential-use coffee maker.

Sira’s office then notified Johnstown police and Gilbo launched an investigation, he said.

Betz had no comment about his arrest today. He said his attorney is Michael Albanese of Gloversville.

Betz said he has been planning to retire and move to Catskill.

Stead said the Board of Supervisors likely will discuss the personnel matter in executive session at 1 p.m. Monday at the County Office Building.

Fulton County Board of Supervisors Chairman William Waldron couldn’t be reached for comment today.

Gloversville 3rd Ward Supervisor Michael F. Gendron, chairman of the Economic Development & Environment Committee, which oversees Betz’s office, today referred questions to city police.

Perth Supervisor Greg Fagan today said he knew about Betz’s arrest because Betz contacted him. He said Betz didn’t indicate whether he will resign from his seat on the Town Board. He said he’s not sure his board yet knows about the arrest.

“It’s kind of shocking and surprising,” Fagan stated.

Gilbo said today Betz will be arraigned on the charge at 9 a.m. May 28 in City Court.

Gilbo said a special prosecutor – Montgomery County District Attorney James E. “Jed” Conboy- was named to the case. Conboy couldn’t be reached today for comment.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.