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Perjury charge against Canton man crosses the line


There are times in this business when you report a story the best you can and come away thinking, "Yeah, but what's really going on here?"

The perjury case against Richard Cassara of Canton is one of those stories.

Cassara is charged with lying under oath during his trial for running a stop sign. Seriously. Perjury.

A cop says he didn't stop. He says he did.

Canton Village Judge William J. Galvin at the trial appeared to agree with Cassara and dismissed the traffic charge. That was fairly odd in itself. Cops usually tend to win the "he said, she said" argument in traffic cases that go to court. But it gets weirder.

The issue that got Cassara into hot water is "the line," not whether he stopped or didn’t stop. He says he stopped at a traffic line before the stop sign. After dismissing the charges against him, the judge drove out to the intersection where the "crime" occurred and found there was no line.

Why would a judge take the backwards approach of dismissing the charges and THEN start investigating the facts of the case? If the line somehow mattered, why didn't he load up his Volvo with the attorneys and defendant, drive out to the scene and figure it all out before issuing a ruling?

Second, what does it matter if there was a line painted on the road? The law says you must stop before the line if there is one. The law says you must stop before entering the intersection if there is a stop sign and no line. Line or no line, Cassara said he stopped. He wrongly said he stopped at a line ... but the bottom line is he said he stopped. Believe him and there is no crime. Believe the cop and levy the fine.

Or do what the judge did: Believe Cassara and then start questioning his story.

I told you this was odd. Makes you wonder what is really going on here.

Whatever it is, it led to the perjury charge against Cassara. He allegedly lied about a line that shouldn't have mattered in the first place. And he was jailed on $5,000 bail.

If it wasn't weird enough for you before now, think about that. Bail is meant to be a deterrent to suspects who might flee rather than fight the charges against them. Cassara is a 69-year-old Canton businessman who might have, depending on who you want to believe, run a stop sign. Then he either lied, imagined, assumed, or truly thought there was a line painted on the road where he says he stopped.

He's not giving Bonnie or Clyde a run for their money in the world of major crimes. And it is highly unlikely he would be running from such a dubious charge against him. No bail would have been a reasonable bail.

The judge in setting bail so high implied that he disagrees. It's a ridiculous position if you don't know what is really going on here. And the judge might be the only one who knows what is really going on here.

Those of us who don't know anything but what has been reported in the newspaper can only come away scratching our heads.

It is difficult to believe that Cassara is really going to be prosecuted for perjury. There are better ways of spending the prosecutor's time and taxpayer money than trying to prove that Cassara lied about a line on the road.

Honestly, where does the case go if he gets on the stand and says, "I stopped. That is a fact. I thought I stopped at a line on the road. I honestly thought there was a line on the road. It appears I was mistaken. But I swear I thought there was a line there."

I suppose the prosecutor could get up in his face and start screaming: "You THOUGHT you stopped at a line? You THOUGHT there was a line on the road? You SWEAR there was a line there? It APPEARS you were mistaken? Nothing further, your honor."

It's more likely this case will go by the wayside before the prosecutor gets to present her theatrical, but not much of, a case. It should go by the wayside. It would be odd if it didn't go by the wayside.

The facts that I can see make that a certainty. Of course, I have no idea what is really going on here.

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