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October 15, 1998

Mr. John J. Culkin
49 Manor Oak Drive
Amherst, NY 14228

The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions.
The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your
correspondence.

Dear Mr. Culkin:

I have received your letter of October 1. You asked what penalties may be imposed
if a person is found guilty of unlawful prevention of public access to records under §240.65
of the Penal Law.

That statute indicates that unlawful prevention of public access to records is a
violation. The term "violation" is defined in §10.00(3) of the Penal Law to mean "an offense,
other than a 'traffic infraction', for which a sentence to a term in excess of fifteen days cannot
be imposed." Additionally, §80.05(4) of the Penal Law states that: "A sentence to pay a fine
for a violation shall be a sentence to pay an amount, fixed by the court, not exceeding two
hundred fifty dollars." Based on the foregoing, it appears that a person found guilty of a
violation may serve up to fifteen days in jail and/or be fined up to §250.

I hope that I have been of assistance.

Sincerely,

 

Robert J. Freeman
Executive Director

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