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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Jailed Ex-Police Chief Continues to Receive $36,096 Pension

Two years for ex-chief
Kaczmarek is sentenced for role in drug ring; his wife is given six months
The Albany Times Union by PAUL NELSON - February 3, 2009

SCHENECTADY -- A year to the day after Gregory T. Kaczmarek and his wife were spotted buying cocaine outside a local video rental store, the city's ex-police chief was handcuffed and hauled off to start a two-year prison sentence for his role in a major drug ring.
At his sentencing Monday in Schenectady County Court for criminal possession of a controlled substance, Kaczmarek apologized to people in "law enforcement and the legal system." "It is my fault, my responsibility, and I accept that," he said before Judge Karen Drago meted out the sentence. Later, in the same courtroom, Lisa Kaczmarek, 49, the former chief's wife, received a six-month jail term for attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance. Her voice trailed off and she wept as she apologized for her wrongdoing. Lisa Kaczmarek, who wore orange prison garb, had turned herself in last month to begin her incarceration at Warren County Jail. Her sentence includes probation for up to five years.

The husband and wife were part of a group of some two dozen people who funneled large quantities of cocaine and heroin from Long Island and Manhattan onto the streets of Schenectady. The ringleaders, Kerry Kirkem and Oscar Mora, pleaded guilty to more serious charges and are serving stiff prison terms. All but three of the guilty defendants have now been sentenced. One man charged in the ring remains at large. A probe led by the state attorney general's office initially ensnared Lisa Kaczmarek and her son Miles Smith in May 2008. Gregory Kaczmarek was charged in September. The Kaczmareks at first faced longer sentences on more serious charges. His attorney had said that Kaczmarek pleaded guilty to protect his wife from having to go to prison. On Monday, Assistant Attorney General Michael Sharpe disputed that contention. He said that on Feb. 2 and 6, 2008, Kaczmarek ordered two "eight-balls of cocaine" outside the video rental store and that the Kaczmareks used some of the cocaine and sold some of it.

State investigators amassed hours of secretly recorded telephone conversations. In one, Lisa Kaczmarek is heard pleading for a shipment of cocaine with Kirkem 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. While Sharpe characterized the couple as members of the drug organization's "lower echelon," he said when Gregory Kaczmarek became aware of the mounting evidence against him he realized it was in his best interest to start talking with authorities about his involvement. Drago said it was "enormously disappointing" to have the former police chief in her court, but she also pointed out that the sentences the couple received were appropriate because they had no prior criminal history and never received pay from the drug dealing. She disagreed with Sharpe that Kaczmarek had a greater moral responsibility to uphold the law because of his job and rank. "The position of being chief doesn't in and of itself warrant a harsher sentence," Drago said.

Kaczmarek, whose sentence included a year of postrelease supervision, had previously surrendered his badge, weapons and nurse's license. He will continue to receive his $36,096 annual police pension. He retired in September 2002, according to the state comptroller's office. In court, Greg Kaczmarek defended former Mayor Albert P. Jurczynski, who was chastised in 1996 when he made Kaczmarek the city's top cop at a time when rumors swirled about his drug use. Lisa Kaczmarek's lawyer, Kevin Luibrand, called her behavior "aberrational." The judge noted that Lisa Kaczmarek relapsed after the family restaurant business closed down. "Your demise is your relapse," Drago said, adding the case illustrates that drug addiction affects people in all walks of life. Paul Nelson can be reached at 454-5347 or by e-mail at

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