LAKE PLACID - Chris Ortloff's plaque has been removed from the Lake Placid Hall of Fame.
Also, the state Olympic Regional Development Authority has removed a tribute to Ortloff from its website. Both memorials celebrated his contribution to the 1980 Olympic Games.
In addition to his Olympic work, Ortloff was a 20-year member of the state Assembly, a member of the state Parole Board, an anchor for WPTZ-TV, a reporter for the Enterprise, a Vietnam veteran and the author of two books.
Chris Ortloff, a former New York lawmaker and ex-member of the state Parole Board, arrives at federal court in Albany in August 2010. Ortloff faced sentencing for using the Internet to try to entice minors into having sex.
(AP Photo - Mike Groll)
He is also a convicted sex offender who is serving time in federal prison. Ortloff was convicted of federal coercion and enticement charges in 2010 and sentenced to prison after a police investigation revealed that he arranged to meet who he thought were two underage girls at an Albany area hotel for a sexual tryst. Ortloff ended up being arrested as part of a sting operation.
Pat Barrett, chairman of ORDA's Board of Directors, told the Enterprise Friday morning that the plaque and the website tribute were brought to his attention this week, and he had them taken down immediately.
"It's pretty simple," Barrett said. "I'm the chairman of ORDA, that's a state facility, and we're not going to have a picture hanging up there of a guy that's been convicted of the crimes he was convicted of. ... I was not the chairman then, at the time that he was convicted, but it was just brought to my attention, and I ordered it taken down."
Ortloff was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998, along with four others: Ed Finnerty, Serge Lussi, Horst Weber and Scott Hamilton. Their plaques were all grouped together. On Friday, a plaque for Jack Davis, had apparently been moved into the space where Ortloff's had been.
A 1998 Enterprise article notes that Ortloff was selected for his help in organizing the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.
"He was in charge of ceremonies (such as opening and closing), flags, medals and the torch relay," the article reads.
Ortloff was also a Lake Placid village trustee and served on numerous boards of directors throughout the region.
A story in the March/April edition of Adirondack Life, titled "Local Conviction: Why is a jailed felon still celebrated on Lake Placid's Hall of Fame?" questioned why the Ortloff tribute remained. Up until this week, the plaque was visible in the Hall of Fame, located at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid. The story's author, magazine editor Annie Stoltie, wrote that a former ORDA employee, who isn't named, was ignored after he expressed concern about the display of Ortloff's plaque.
Betsy Folwell, Adirondack Life's creative director, said Stoltie noticed the plaque during a beer festival at the Olympic Center in October 2012. Folwell said that's when Stoltie began asking questions for her story. She even wrote to Ortloff in prison, but didn't receive a response.
"I saw Mr. Barrett's statement in the paper," Folwell said. "Cause and effect, it certainly seems very plausible that the Adirondack Life brought the issue to his attention, but I can't speak for what his actions were as a result. Maybe it was just water cooler kind of chat rather than Mr. Barrett just directly reading the story and coming to the conclusion like that."
Barrett said someone raised the issue to him in conversation, and he made his decision immediately.
"It's just common sense," Barrett said. "The day he was convicted, it should have come off that wall. That's a state facility, and I'm the chairman of ORDA, and I just decided we're taking it off, and that's it. I didn't consult with anybody or anything. Pretty straightforward, isn't it? That's because I'm from St. Regis Falls."
Local officials like Assemblyman Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, and North Elba town Supervisor Roby Politi said Barrett made the right call.
Ortloff is serving his sentence at the low-security Fort Dix Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Dix, New Jersey. His projected release date is Jan. 1, 2020, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons website.