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Monday, February 2, 2009

Former Police Chief Sentenced to Two Years

Kaczmarek sentenced to two years in prison
Wife serving 6 months for couple's 'lower echelon' roles in cocaine, heroin operation
The Albany Times Union by PAUL NELSON  - February 2, 2009

SCHENECTADY — Disgraced ex-Police Chief Gregory T. Kaczmarek was sentenced to two years in prison today and his wife was sentenced to six months in jail for their role in a large-scaled drug ring that pumped cocaine and heroin into the city streets that the chief once swore to protect. Kaczmarek apologized to the court and law enforcement and defended the former mayor, Al Jurczynski. who promoted him to chief 12 years ago despite rumors that Kaczmarek had used drugs. "Any criticism of him or current law enforcement is not fair," Kaczmarek said. "It is my fault, my responsibility." The ex-chief pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. As Lisa Kaczmarek apologized in court, her voice trailed off and she cried. She began serving her sentence last month after surrendering early to the authorities on her plea to attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance. The sentence includes five years of post-release supervision.

Greg Kaczmarek's sentence, which includes a year of post-release supervision, came exactly one year after prosecutors say he consorted with a known drug dealer who was his cocaine supplier. Assistant state Attorney General Michael Sharpe said Gregory Kaczmarek on two occasions, Feb. 2 and 6, 2008, ordered two "eight balls of cocaine" in front of a local video rental store. Sharpe said the Kaczmareks used some of the cocaine and sold some of it. He and and his wife faced charges that could have landed them behind bars for a long time for their role in the drug distribution ring headed by Kerry "Slim" Kirkem. Kirkem pleaded guilty to running the enterprise that funneled the drugs heroin and cocaine from Long Island and Manhattan to Schenectady. Judge Karen Drago expressed disappointment that the former chief was in court for his crime. She said his sentence was appropriate because Kaczmarek did not accept money from the criminal ring and had no prior criminal record. "The position of police chief doesn't in itself warrant a harsher sentence," she said. Assistant Attorney General Michael Sharpe said the Kaczmareks "fall into the lower echelon of the organization."

When Kaczmarek pleaded guilty Dec. 2, he agreed to give up his police badge, any weapons he has and his nursing license, but will get to keep his pension. Kaczmarek's attorney, Thomas O'Hern, had said his client essentially took the deal to spare his wife a prison term. Sharpe countered that, saying he believed Kaczmarek accepted the plea deal "in light of evidence against him and his own best self-interest." The 13-month state attorney general-led probe, dubbed "Operation Slim Chance," initially ensnared Lisa Kaczmarek and her son Miles Smith along with 22 others in May, and Gregory Kaczmarek in September. State investigators amassed hours of secretly recorded telephone conversations. In one, Lisa Kaczmarek is heard pleading for a shipment of cocaine with another drug dealer for her husband's 56th birthday. In another recorded call, she suggested the ex-chief could transport cocaine for the ring and would "flash his badge" if there was trouble.

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