Saratoga County

Mechanicville police officer stalking case settled by plea

A man who had been charged with misdemeanor counts of stalking and harassing a police officer settle

A man who had been charged with misdemeanor counts of stalking and harassing a police officer settled the case last month by pleading guilty to disorderly conduct, a noncriminal violation.

Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III said Vincent J. Dawson was sentenced to time served — two or three days following his arrest — and a fine. Dawson had been free on bail for most of the time the case was pending.

An order of protection was issued for Mechanicville police Officer Robert Smith, the complainant, Murphy said, and if Dawson violates that order he could be charged with criminal contempt.

Dawson’s lawyer, Constantine DeStefano, said the stalking and harassment charges were the result of a misunderstanding.

Dawson, 38, of North Main Street, was accused in May of following Smith as the officer walked with his wife and child on city streets. Dawson had been arrested by Smith on two occasions in the prior 10 days, once for alleged aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and once after a loud noise complaint.

DeStefano said those charges, too, were satisfied by the disorderly conduct plea. He said the city’s noise violation law is poorly written and almost impossible for police to enforce.

Since the disposition, Dawson has made unsupported complaints about the conduct of Mechanicville police officers, including Smith and Chief Joseph Waldron. Smith and Waldron could not be reached for comment, and DeStefano said he was not involved in bringing any lawsuit on Dawson’s behalf against Mechanicville police.

Murphy said Dawson “seems to have psychiatric problems” for which he had been receiving treatment and had had his medication changed. The district attorney’s office took Dawson’s medical records into consideration in settling the case, Murphy said, along with the fact that there was “no actual physical contact” between Dawson and the Smith family.

“The officer said he just wants the guy to stay away,” Murphy said.

Dawson said the charges against him were false, and that as a result he lost his job and visitation with his daughter.

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