GHENT—Livingston State Police investigators have charged a local man with 16 felonies relating to the forgery of legal documents.
John Novine, 45, of Kinderhook was charged with six counts of second degree forgery, six counts of first degree offering a false instrument for filing, three counts of first degree falsifying business records and one count of criminal possession of a forgery device, October 28.
Mr. Novine, who is a designer/draftsman, was hired by customers to draw up plans for homes, garages and additions. He then allegedly unlawfully stamped and signed those plans using a duplicate of a stamp belonging to a bona fide state licensed engineer.
Mr. Novine made the duplicate of the stamp without the engineer’s knowledge or permission. He then charged customers for stamping the blueprints or plans and allowed customers to file them with building inspectors in the towns of Ghent, Kinderhook and Chatham.
The ruse came to light when one customer ran into some problem with the plans for his house that was under construction. The customer then contacted the real engineer, whose stamp appeared on the plans, to discuss the issue. The real engineer told the customer he did not know what he was talking about as he had never signed or stamped the man’s house plans.
The engineer then took the matter to the State Police, according to Investigator Abdul Weed.
It is not know how long Mr. Novine has been using the duplicate stamp, said the investigator. Mr. Novine met the engineer through another contractor several years ago and they have had some past business dealings, he said.
Arraigned in Ghent Town Court before Justice David Harrison Sr, Mr. Novine was sent to the Columbia County Jail in lieu of $10,000 cash bail or $20,000 bail bond. He is to reappear in Ghent Court December 7.
Anyone who had plans drafted by Mr. Novine and questions the authenticity of the engineer’s stamp and signature, should contact Investigator Weed or Senior Investigator Gary Mazzacano at SP Livingston (518) 851-2001.
To contact Diane Valden email