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Monday, January 12, 2009

Ex-chief admits to misconduct

The Albany Times Union by JORDAN CARLEO-EVANGELIST - January 10, 2009

ALBANY — After more than three decades as Guilderland's top cop, James R. Murley sat for 40 minutes Friday in Albany City Court waiting his turn like every other defendant.
At first, he couldn't even find a seat. Murley, 62, who retired in May 2007 after 34 years atop the department rather than face dismissal, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor official misconduct, solemnly acknowledging that on more than 50 occasions he claimed to have been working when he was actually gambling at an Oneida County casino.

With the plea deal that will spare the well-known lawman jail time, visiting Judge Kenneth Connolly sentenced Murley to pay $13,500 in restitution to the town, an $800 fine plus $200 state surcharge, and continued participation in a gambling counseling program. The program will be required to give the court monthly updates on Murley's progress. Connolly also issued a conditional discharge, which means, according to prosecutors, that if Murley abides by the terms of the plea, the case is concluded. The conviction will stay on his record. It was the first and possibly only time Murley will appear in court. He pleaded at his first chance. Connolly, a visiting Voorheesville village justice, heard the case in Albany because Guilderland's town justices recused themselves. Murley shook hands with his prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Linda Griggs, and left court without making a statement, but his lawyer painted his case as an example of how addictions can tear lives apart. "This gambling, it's an insidious thing," the attorney, William J. Gray, said outside court. "The important part then is to get the treatment and get yourself well and get yourself back to health."

Murley admitted to failing to notify the town at least 53 times between February 2001 and August 2004 that he was actually at Turning Stone casino in Verona when his monthly time slips said he was working. He also admitted to claiming sick leave on at least three other occasions. Depositions by his former co-workers in the case shed more light on the sexual harassment allegations that led the town — and ultimately State Police — to take a harder look as his attendance records. One former female subordinate told investigators Murley had a habit of making improper comments toward women around his office and would, on occasion, personally issue accident reports to attractive females, often waiving the standard $3 fee. One of his top commanders acknowledged concerns about the chief's conduct around female defendants, his habit of releasing sensitive information to the media and that "often I would not know the whereabouts of Chief Murley."

The town had brought sexual harassment charges, as well as others, against Murley, but he retired before getting a hearing. He keeps his pension and health benefits. Investigators zeroed in on the time sheet problems, in part, with the help of Murley's own casino gambling card, which records the date of its use. One former employee who alleged harassment told investigators the chief took long weekends, and often borrowed money from subordinates for snacks, expecting them to retrieve the food from a nearby store. Another former subordinate told State Police she became uncomfortable filling out the chief's time sheets for him. Heather Orth, a spokeswoman for District Attorney David Soares, said the primary concern was that Murley get counseling. "We hope Mr. Murley gets the help he needs," Orth said.

Mark Grimm, a Guilderland Town Board member, said for him the investigation is just beginning because he wants to know how Murley's conduct went unnoticed, or at least unpunished, for so long. Appointed acting chief in 1973, Murley became a fixture in both law enforcement circles and the local media. Town Supervisor Kenneth Runion, in a written statement, struck a conciliatory tone. "James Murley had a long and professional career as Chief of Police in the Town of Guilderland. He brought the town police force from a five-man, part-time police department to the professional thirty-five person department it is now," Runion said, adding that his conduct "demonstrates the effects this illness can have on an admirable career." Jordan Carleo-Evangelist can be reached at 454-5445 or by e-mail at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have seen this same exact thing happening all over the country. People get desperate in hard economic times & will do stuff they normally wouldn't.
If City & Counties would have a paperless time tracking system that kept employees more accountable for their time & whereabouts, this could save the taxpayers a ton of money.
Of course, I am biased in which time tracking system should be used - but as a citizen, it is just a no-brainer that this needs to be a tool all Government offices need to use.

Jennifer Harris
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