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Undersheriff Neff, still under investigation, is set to retire Feb. 8


Undersheriff Andrew R. Neff, who has been suspended with pay since Oct. 25, will retire on Friday, according to David J. Paulsen, Jefferson County attorney.

Mr. Paulsen said he received a letter from Mr. Neff’s attorney, Nathaniel G. Lambright, a partner at Blitman & King LLP, Syracuse, indicating that Mr. Neff had set Friday as the effective date.

Mr. Neff is under investigation by state police for allegations of sexual harassment brought against him by Michele R. Bowens, 42, of 17987 County Route 76, a convicted felon who was recently sentenced to three years in prison for second-degree attempted forgery and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property.

Ms. Bowens was sentenced to 1 to 3 years in prison in December 2007 for fourth-degree grand larceny. She maintains that after her release in September 2008, she worked as an informant for the Metro-Jeff Drug Task Force, of which Mr. Neff was a member.

She also claims that she became involved in a relationship with Mr. Neff, despite a Sheriff’s Department policy forbidding its members to consort with known criminals.

The relationship ended, but Ms. Bowens claims that after the latest indictment against her became public in October, Mr. Neff contacted her and offered to intervene on her behalf with the district attorney’s office in exchange for sexual favors. She also alleges that Mr. Neff sent her unwanted photos of a man’s penis using his county-issued phone. Ms. Bowens has filed a notice of claim — a necessary precursor to any lawsuit against a municipality — with the county, but no suit has been filed.

According to earlier reports, Mr. Neff was expected to announce his retirement in mid-January.

At the time, Sheriff John P. Burns said, “He served the county for 25 years and he did a good job. I wouldn’t want anything to hurt him in terms of benefits.”

Mr. Burns said he wanted Mr. Neff to “retire with his dignity.”

Mr. Paulsen said Mr. Neff will be receiving some amount of accrued vacation.

More information about Mr. Neff’s retirement benefits will be forthcoming. According to the 2013 adopted budget, the undersheriff is paid an annual salary of $71,138.

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