LIVINGSTON COUNTY – The founder of the Livingston County Tea Party who also serves on the Republican Committee for West Sparta has spent over a year vehemently denying any connection to the shooting of his neighbor’s two dogs and then apparently covering up the crime with false evidence, but finally changed his tune on Wednesday and pled guilty to two felonies.
Andrew Keiffer, 44, alongside his attorney Mark Foti pled guilty to Tampering with Physical Evidence, an E felony, and Attempted Bribing a Witness, an E felony, with a recommended sentence of 45 days at the Livingston County Jail on each count, 5 years of probation, about $1,300 restitution to the victim, and about $4,100 in court fees and fines.
“A criminal investigation doesn’t simply end with an arrest,” said Assistant District Attorney Joshua Tonra. “To a great extent, it was the post-arrest investigation that made all the difference in this case.”
Keiffer just kept piling on felonies as his case became more and more muddled with apparent coverups. He was originally arrested in June 2014 for shooting two dogs, one of which died. The shooting occurred in January 2014.
According to court documents, he then called the State Police to investigate the apparent shooting of his girlfriend’s goats, offering a bizarre home video of himself removing bullets from the dead goats as evidence. The goats’ bodies were taken into evidence by State Police investigators, and a Monroe County crime lab found that the goats had been killed by other means, and the bullets were in fact placed inside by hand. Keiffer was subsequently arrested.
All of Keiffer’s cases are being presided over by New York State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Moran. Both Livingston County Court Judges, Judge Robert Wiggins and Judge Dennis Cohen, recused themselves from Keiffer’s cases in January 2015. Justice Moran said at the Huntley Hearing that this was likely because both Judges have announced their candidacy for re-election as Livingston County Republican judges, and Keiffer is currently one of two members of the Republican Committee for West Sparta and stood to vote on their designation by the party.
ADA Tonra credits the hard work and collaborative efforts of the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office and New York State Police in Keiffer’s prosecution and conviction, particularly the work of Sheriff’s Investigator Brad Schneider and Trooper Larry LaRose.
Keiffer repeatedly expressed his intentions to run for Livingston County Sheriff on social media during court processes, saying that the charges had been lodged as political attacks. After sentencing, he will be a convicted felon and will not be able to run.
Formal sentencing is scheduled for a later date.