John A. Stemen, a longtime aide to Congressman Anthony Brindisi (D., N.Y.), was officially charged with patronizing a prostitute during a Monday hearing at the Utica City Court.
After pleading not guilty to one count of patronizing a prostitute, Stemen was released without bail. Stemen's attorney contended his client was "maintaining his innocence completely."
The judge who conducted the hearing said he would recuse himself from future proceedings of the case because he knows Stemen from their joint involvement "being in local politics for many years."
Brindisi fired Stemen in early May after Stemen admitted to state troopers that he agreed to a pay $200 to a 17-year-old he met online for a sexual encounter.
"As soon as we were made aware of the charges, John Stemen was immediately terminated from his position," Brindisi's office said in a statement when the charges first became public.
Stemen worked for Brindisi while the congressman served in the New York state legislature and Brindisi hired him to work in his district office following his 2018 defeat of former representative Claudia Tenney (R., N.Y.).
Brindisi defeated Tenney by less than 5,000 votes in a tightly-fought race.
Tenney has indicated she may be open to a rematch in 2020, telling a local radio station last month she has had "a lot of people" encourage her to challenge Brindisi next fall.