ITHACA, N.Y.—A former Tompkins County Deputy was sentenced to 60 days in prison for perjury in a 2019 rape case that involved another Tompkins County deputy.
Zachary Starner, 36, of Lansing was convicted of third-degree perjury, a misdemeanor, in March via jury trial in Ithaca City Court. In addition to the prison time, Starner will undergo three years of probation supervision after his release.
His case stems from a rape trial in which Starner was accused of providing false testimony on the stand regarding the investigation of a fellow Tompkins County Sheriff deputy, Scott Walter, who was acquitted on rape charges during that trial though the incident is now the subject of a civil lawsuit. Another person, Matthew Pinney, pled guilty to forcible touching and reckless endangerment.
Starner had been on paid administrative leave since Sept. 2019, when his conduct first came into question. Once Starner was found guilty earlier this year, Sheriff Derek Osborne moved to terminate him from the county sheriff’s office.
“Friday was a sad day for the justice system in Tompkins County,” wrote District Attorney Matthew Van Houten in a statement. “The circumstances underlying this case, specifically the objective dishonesty of a law enforcement officer, represent a blemish on the integrity of our court system. It is important to note that this defendant
was treated the same as any other similarly situated person would have been treated in Tompkins County. It is my hope that the community can move on from this negative experience and see it as the aberration that it is.”