BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG)—Former Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell and his former communications officer, James Worhach, have been charged with public corruption, forgery and other crimes.
Current District Attorney Mike Korchak announced the charges on Tuesday afternoon. Korchak said his office and several other Broome County agencies are investigating Cornwell and his alleged accomplice.
According to Korchak, officials launched the investigation earlier in the pandemic after they identified several missing files when checking the county’s record inventory.
“Then we started looking at files and we eventually found that files had been destroyed, were missing or deleted,” Korchak said.
Korchak also alleged investigators found Cornwell submitted false vouchers to receive more than $3,000 from the county government.
Court documents unsealed Tuesday showed Cornwell’s alleged crimes occurred on multiple occasions between 2016 and 2019.
In a statement provided by the lawyers representing him, Cornwell said he is confident he will be completely exonerated.
“I did nothing wrong and I did not commit any crime. At all times as the Broome County District Attorney, I conducted myself appropriately, adhering to the highest ethical standards of my profession,” Cornwell said, adding that he expects a prompt and speedy trial.
Korchak served as Cornwell’s chief assistant district attorney during the time in which the alleged crimes are said to have occurred. When asked whether he had suspicions about Cornwell while acting as his assistant district attorney, Korchak said he could not comment.
Worhach, indicted alongside Cornwell on the grounds of filing false vouchers on multiple occasions, also served as Korchak’s public information officer until late 2020.
Additional charges against Worhach include possessing property stolen around Nov. 12, 2020.
Worhach was arrested for drunk driving after hitting a car on Nov. 13, 2020. He left his post at the district attorney’s office soon after.
Worhach was previously arrested for driving while intoxicated in 2014.
When asked if there was a conflict of interest, Korchak said who is charged does not matter; his job is to prosecute crime, regardless.
“I’m not permitted to pick and choose who I prosecute,” Korchak said. “If a law is violated, someone will be held accountable and prosecuted. That’s the way the system works.”
Korchak said, despite his ties to the defendants, he will continue to prosecute the case unless there is new information indicating he should recuse himself.
“I think at this point I owe it to the people of Broome County to stay in the case and prosecute it to the fullest extent of the law,” Korchak added.
Both Cornwell and Worhach are pleading not guilty on all charges. They will appear in court on Sept. 23.