Schenectady County

Man admits role in drug ring

The second of two leaders of a large Schenectady-based drug ring admitted his involvement in court M
PHOTOGRAPHER:

The second of two leaders of a large Schenectady-based drug ring admitted his involvement in court Monday.

Kerry Kirkem, 40, of Van Vranken Avenue, pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. He is to receive 12 years at his scheduled August sentencing.

Kirkem’s plea follows that of Oscar Mora, who admitted his role June 10. Mora has already been sentenced to 20 years in state prison.

The plea also touches the case of Lisa Kaczmarek, wife of former Schenectady police chief Greg Kaczmarek. She was among the 24 people accused of involvement in the drug ring. She also allegedly was recorded on state police wiretaps having two conversations with Kirkem about a delayed shipment.

Kirkem also participated in a meeting between Lisa Kaczmarek and her husband, Greg Kaczmarek, Feb. 20, where the three, according to an indictment citing the organization, talked about how to respond to a police seizure of another shipment.

Greg Kaczmarek has not been charged. Lisa Kaczmarek’s attorney, Kevin Luibrand, declined to comment Monday.

In court, Kirkem appeared with his attorney, Michael Braccini, before Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago.

Kirkem, in a Schenectady County Jail jumpsuit, calmly entered his guilty plea.

He agreed to forfeit any claim to a 2002 Chevorlet Tahoe and a 2006 Dodge Charger, both seized by police. He also forfeited $6,951 in cash seized at his residence, along with a Samsung large-screen television, three cellphones and a computer.

He also agreed to several provisions that were not put on record in court. Those provisions were promptly sealed.

Afterward, Braccini said the agreement served justice. Based on what Kirkem had faced, the sentence was a good one, he said.

Based on the wiretaps, obtained earlier in transcript form by The Daily Gazette, Kirkem appeared to have few options.

Authorities alleged he was heard on multiple calls, setting up deals and shipments and keeping workers in line.

In the conversation with Lisa Kaczmarek, Kirkem tried to explain a delay in a shipment. He also rebuffed an alleged offer by Greg Kaczmarek to go down himself. Greg Kaczmarek was reported as heard in the background.

In another conversation, Kirkem reacted with surprise as alleged drug mule Misty Gallo reported the shipment she was carrying had been seized, apparently by police. It was that seizure that authorities alleged Kirkem and the Kaczmareks discussed.

In all, Kirkem was the fifth to take a deal.

Following him Monday was Michelle Hernandez Soto, 30, of University Place, Schenectady, who pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. She is to be sentenced in August to 31⁄2 years in state prison.

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