Schenectady

Rotterdam defendant could see full bribery case dismissed

Main charge had already been dropped
Nicholas Pangburn, 34.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Nicholas Pangburn, 34.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

A man who once faced a bribery charge for allegedly telling an officer he wouldn’t sue if the officer let him go could see the entire case against him dismissed.

The bribery charge had already been reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, attorneys said. But the reduced misdemeanor was recently dismissed outright, the man’s attorney, Steve Kouray, said.

And a lawsuit is still possible, defendant Nicholas Pangburn said Tuesday. Pangburn’s criminal attorney has argued police had no right to stop him in the first place.

Pangburn, 34, of Draper Avenue, Rotterdam, appeared in Schenectady City Court on Tuesday and resolved the remaining two charges of resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration with what is called an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.

Police arrested Pangburn May 29 on State Street. Officers approached him just after 8 a.m. as he lay on a bench near the railroad bridge. Police accused him of refusing to give his name and date of birth and trying to “walk away repeatedly after being told he was not free to go,” according to court papers.

Police filed the bribery charge after Pangburn allegedly told an officer that he would not sue and get the officer fired if the officer let him go and dropped the charges.

Prosecutors reduced the felony bribery charge to a misdemeanor and the misdemeanor charge was recently dismissed outright. The initial reduction led to Pangburn’s release May 31 without having to post bail. He spent just over 48 hours in custody.

The resolution on the remaining counts requires no admission by a defendant and means the case will be dismissed in six months if the defendant stays out of trouble.

“Under the circumstances it was a reasonable disposition,” Kouray said Tuesday, “and it was my client’s choice and I’ve got to respect that.”

The prosecutor in the case couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.

Pangburn said he accepted the resolution on the remaining charges to end the case, but only after the bribery-related charge was dismissed.

He said he is speaking with a civil attorney about his options. He does intend to preserve those options by filing a notice of claim, the first step toward a potential suit against the city.

“It is what it is at this point,” Pangburn said. “Where it is going forward, I really can’t say at this point.”

Kouray has argued that Pangburn was sleeping, that the officers woke him up and told him to leave. They also asked his name. Kouray argued Pangburn had every right at that point to decline to give his name.

Asked about the case and its resolution Tuesday, Police Chief Eric Clifford said he would have look into the case further before he could comment.

The New York Civil Liberties Union, asked about the case in June, called the case an example of over-policing. 

“The Schenectady Police Department needs to assure the public that they will not continue to over-police situations and instead find helpful solutions for people in distress,” a statement read.

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