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Friday, January 2, 2009

Ex-chief admits to drug counts

The Albany Times Union by PAUL NELSON - December 22, 2008

SCHENECTADY For years, ex-Police Chief Gregory T. Kaczmarek dodged rumors of illicit drug use while he was a cop. On Dec. 2, Kaczmarek stood before a judge and admitted his role in a drug distribution ring that pumped cocaine and heroin from Long Island to the Schenectady streets he once patrolled. "Anything that I have done should really not have any impact on the Schenectady Police Department or people in law enforcement in general," Kaczmarek told reporters that day. "There's a lot of men and women in law enforcement working hard to do the right thing, and if my actions have made their job more difficult, I truly and sincerely apologize." The plea was the culmination of a yearlong state attorney general's investigation into the drug operation. It eventually led to the arrest of Kaczmarek, his wife, stepson and nearly two dozen other people connected to the drug enterprise. Kaczmarek, 56, was long plagued with whispered allegations of past drug use he denounced the rumors at a news conference shortly before he was appointed chief in 1996 and his wife was arrested months before the state charged him with drug possession and conspiracy. But Kaczmarek's arrest and subsequent guilty plea to drug possession were startling because they illustrated that in a city plagued by drug dealing and its inherent violence, even a one-time police chief was involved in the underworld that made the city so dangerous. He and his wife, Lisa Kaczmarek, are to be sentenced Feb. 2 on what his attorney has called a "family plan" that keeps Lisa out of prison. She will serve six months in the county jail; he is expected to go to prison for two years. He also will surrender his police badge, any weapons he has and his nursing license, but will keep his police pension. Kaczmarek's story is No. 10 in the Times Union's countdown of the Top 10 stories in the Capital Region this year. 

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