Schenectady County

Schenectady cop indicted on misdemeanor counts

A suspended city police youth aid detective has been indicted on four misdemeanor counts, including
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A suspended city police youth aid detective has been indicted on four misdemeanor counts, including official misconduct, officials said Wednesday.

Sherri Barnes, 43, of Teller Avenue, was booked Wednesday morning on three counts of fourth-degree criminal diversion and one count of official misconduct, all misdemeanors.

She denies the charges, her attorney Paul DerOhannesian said Wednesday, adding that he believes his client’s innocence will be established.

Barnes has been on leave since January and the start of an investigation that sources have said centered around possible prescription drug abuse.

Police spokesman Sgt. Eric Clifford confirmed the arrest Wednesday afternoon, saying the charges were the result of a Schenectady County Grand Jury indictment.

Police, however, did not release the specifics of the charges, including what exactly Barnes is accused of doing. Police only referenced allegations of illegal use and possession of prescription drugs.

Sources in January said Barnes is not suspected of forging prescriptions, but obtaining them by other means.

DerOhannesian said he understands the indictment is technically sealed. He questioned the release of the charges Wednesday. They’ve only been told what the charges are, not specifically what is alleged, he said.

Barnes was at the Schenectady County Courthouse Wednesday morning for what she was told would be an arraignment, but the proceedings were postponed. She is expected to be back in court this morning.

“She is a 20-year decorated veteran of the department. She feels strongly about her service to the department and respects the department,” DerOhannesian said. “However, she also realizes there are cross-currents of motives of individuals in the department and she also understands people get falsely accused.”

The indictment means Barnes is suspended without pay for 30 days, Clifford said. It is the second suspension without pay for Barnes. She was suspended in July because of the results of an internal investigation into the matter.

DerOhannesian said Barnes was told little of the July decision, other than it was the result of accusations that she failed to notify the department that she was the subject of an outside investigation, not any specific accusation of wrongdoing itself.

Barnes has been a detective in the department’s youth aid bureau, which deals with juvenile crime. She has worked at the department for two decades.

City records showed she was out sick for 62 days in 2008, logging only four work days in the first 12 weeks of that year.

Barnes’ husband, Donald Barnes, is also a member of the force.

Sherri Barnes has won at least one commendation in her tenure, an exceptional duty award for a November 1997 hostage situation. She was one of several officers to receive the commendation related to the peaceful resolution of the 1997 Paulding Street incident, records show.

She’s also been injured on the job. She suffered injuries to her knee and wrists while arresting Kendall Spraragen in February 2005. Spraragen was accused of robbing a bank and then threatening to kill his father.

Four years earlier, in June 2001, she suffered an apparent broken arm after responding to a fight between William Oliver and his landlord. She was injured after Oliver struggled with police, records show.

Barnes is the latest member of the department to face criminal charges. The city is looking to fire a total of seven officers for various allegations of misconduct. Barnes has not been named for termination.

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