UTICA, N.Y. -- Congressman Anthony Brindisi's former staffer faced a judged Monday morning — John Stemen, 57, was officially charged with patronizing a prostitute.
He pleaded not guilty to one count of patronizing a prostitute during his arraignment in Utica City Court Monday morning.
Prosecutors say the alleged prostitute in the case is only 17 years old, and that Stemen set up a meeting with her online.
They asked that a recorded conversation between a state police investigator and Stemen be allowed in court.
NewsChannel 2’s Gary Liberatore spoke with Stemen's attorney after Monday's arraignment where no bail was set and Stemen was released.
"At this point we're maintaining his innocence completely. We need to see what the paperwork shows in more detail we need to see what if any other discovery materials there are from the district attorney’s office. As you heard there's obviously a disc of some sort of audio recording interview by investigator Moore and my client,” said Nicholas Passalacqua, his attorney.
Passalaqua put it on the record in court Monday morning that he believes his client is not being treated fairly by the Oneida County District Attorney's office. Passalaqua says that's because he we was immediately told by the assistant district attorney handling the case in Utica City Court that there will not be any kind of reduction of his client's charge of patronizing a prostitute, "The assistant district attorney said it point-blank to me when we approached the bench. To prematurely indicate that there will be no reduction whatsoever is absolutely not equal treatment to the hundreds of other clients that I've had on this and other A Misdemeanor charges."
Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara says Stemen will not be offered a reduction, "You have an individual at an important job, he was a high profile individual, he was in a position of trust and you violated that trust by paying $200 to a 17-year-old to have sex with. We have major cases that we didn't make offers on. We have one right now involving a person that set his grandmother on fire, we had the Utica College case, we have the individual up at Dennys slapping the waitress in the rear end, there are certain cases there's no reason for us to reduce them and there's also a message that needs to be sent."
Utica City Court Judge Ralph Eannace conducted the arraignment Monday morning, but he recused himself from future proceedings because he says knows John Stemen from him being in local politics for many years.
A new judge will be assigned within the next two days and that is when a new court date will be set.
Stemen was terminated from his position with Brindisi's office immediately following his arrest earlier this month.