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Friday, November 28, 2008

Ex Police Chief Expected to Plead Guilty

Ex-Chief Kaczmarek expected to plead guilty, serve prison
The Albany Times Union by PAUL NELSON AND BRENDAN J. LYONS - November 28, 2008

SCHENECTADY — Ex-Schenectady Police Chief Gregory T. Kaczmarek, who took the job denying rumors of drug use, is expected to plead guilty next week to felony drug charges related to a major narcotics ring, according to several people familiar with terms of the deal. Kaczmarek has approved the plea agreement and is expected to formally accept it during a Tuesday morning appearance in Schenectady County Court, those familiar with the deal said. It is the same courtroom where Kaczmarek and his wife, Lisa, were arraigned on conspiracy and drug possession charges that stem from a state investigation into a cocaine and heroin distribution ring that stretched from Long Island to Schenectady.

The negotiated plea calls for Kaczmarek to serve two years in state prison and surrender his registered nurse's license. Had a jury convicted him of the top felony count, Kaczmarek, 56, would have faced up to 25 years in prison. His September indictment on drug charges stemmed from a state attorney general's probe of the drug ring and its now-admitted leader, Kerry "Slim" Kirkem. Prosecutors alleged the Kaczmareks met with Kirkem in a Colonie strip club on Feb. 20 after discovering that State Police seized a shipment of drugs from one of the ring's "mules." They claimed the ex-chief urged Kirkem to move his stash house, change his telephone numbers and "fire" Misty Gallo, the mule who had been caught with the drugs. On one tape, Lisa Kaczmarek allegedly told Kirkem she needed cocaine for her husband's birthday and that they could use the ex-chief to transport drugs because he could flash his badge if trouble arose. When Kaczmarek's wife was indicted in May, he acknowledged to the Times Union the couple was friends with Kirkem. "I knew we would be targets," he said. Kaczmarek has been plagued by rumors for years. Before then-Mayor Albert P. Jurczynski appointed him top cop in 1996, Kaczmarek held a news conference to dispel a whisper campaign about his alleged drug use. His six years as chief were also marked by controversy. The FBI investigated his department and eventually helped prosecutors convict four officers on drug-related charges.

In May, Lisa Kaczmarek, 48, and the couple's son Miles Smith had been named among two dozen defendants, charged for their alleged role in a well organized drug syndicate that funneled cocaine and heroin from Long Island and threatened violence if anyone got in the way. Infiltration of the ring led to the indictment of more than a dozen people. To date, most of the defendants, including Kirkem and fellow ringleader Oscar "O" Mora, already have pleaded guilty to drug charges. Lisa Kaczmarek remains free on bail while the charges against her are pending. Authorities have portrayed her as a retail-level dealer. The crew peddled drugs out of four apartments in Schenectady and one in Coram on Long Island and utilized a series of safe houses where the drugs, guns and drug proceeds were kept, state investigators say. Police have said the investigation led to the seizure of 58 ounces of cocaine worth $130,000, 1,600 bags of heroin worth $33,000, five cars, two guns and $22,549 in cash. The investigation was dubbed Operation Slim Chance.

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