Former New Paltz School Board President Donald Kerr has been cleared of his second-degree criminal possession of marijuana charges handed to him last November.
On Nov. 4, Kerr signed for a package containing eight pounds, worth approximately $32,000, of marijuana delivered to his business located on Main Street. After a March 29 testimony in front of the Ulster County Grand Jury, he was cleared of the charges, his attorney Andy Kossover said.
“He presented fine,” Kossover said. “We just needed someone with common sense…to take a look and say it’s not uncommon for people to sign for other people’s packages. It’s done all the time.”
Kerr stood before the Ulster County Grand Jury, as every defendant facing a felony charge has the right to do, Kossover said, and pleaded his case for innocence. Kerr said the U.S. Postal Service acted unfairly to secure an arrest only seconds after he signed for the package — later found to have another person’s name on it.
Kossover said both he and Kerr were “confident” the charges would be dropped after an impartial panel had a chance to review the evidence the U.S. Postal Service and New Paltz Police Department used against his client.
“We believed there was insufficient evidence from day one to make a case against Mr. Kerr,” Kossover said. “The grand jury agreed with us there was not enough evidence to continue the case.”
In a press conference outside of his office at 183 Main St., Kerr said he did not feel exonerated because he knew he was not guilty in the first place.
“They got it really wrong that day,” Kerr said at the conference. “They robbed me of my reputation and my life for several months.”
Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright sent a statement out after the charges were dropped by the Grand Jury.
“It is not the goal of this office to prosecute individuals where the evidence is the case is insufficient, which apparently was the finding of the Grand Jury,” Carnright’s statement said.
Kerr, who had previously been arrested for a marijuana possession charge in May 2008 after being pulled over by state police, said moving forward he intends to rebuild his reputation “brick by brick.”
Kossover said he believes now that his client has been cleared of the charges, he will be able to move on from a turbulent time in his life.
“This had a horrific effect on his life, both his public life and personal life,” Kossover said. “Now I guess he is taking steps to put his life back together.”