There is no evidence that Mayor Tim Hughes ever used his old cellphone after he reported it stolen from his vehicle May 28, city police concluded after examining Hughes’ cellphone records.
The records of the investigation, obtained by The Gazette Friday through the Freedom of Information Law, show Hughes did not use the stolen phone after May 23 but bought a new phone May 29 and reactivated the number used on the stolen phone.
Police also found no evidence that the city-issued laptop computer also reported stolen May 28 was ever connected to the Internet after that date.
The findings challenge allegations made last month at a hearing in U.S. District Court by Amsterdam attorney Elmer Robert Keach III. Keach, who represents former City Clerk Gary Margiotta in his wrongful dismissal suit, stated in court that Hughes’ telephone records — which he obtained — showed the stolen phone was used after May 28 to call current City Clerk Brenda Pedrick.
Keach also said he had information that Hughes’ 4-year-old son, Gabriel, reported to his mother after a May 27 visit with Hughes that he played cards on his father’s computer. Keach, basing his assertions on conversations with the boy’s mother, suggested the computer mentioned was the stolen laptop, which was among the items Keach had subpoenaed as part of the lawsuit.
Police Chief Edgar Beaudin, commenting on the investigation Friday, said while they are limited in their ability to interrogate a 4-year-old, they “have thoroughly investigated every aspect of this case.”
Hughes declined comment on the findings, but said he is considering his legal options.
Beaudin, who said detectives obtained cellphone records and examined records of Internet providers, and “we find nothing to substantiate any of the allegations.”
The police report shows Beaudin ordering an investigation soon after Keach made the allegations public at a July 16 hearing.
Detective Sgt. Donald Van Deusen states in the case file: “I spoke to Timothy Hughes today at the police department ... he says that the allegations are false.” Van Deusen said Hughes provided him with a receipt for his new phone, on which the first call was made the day of purchase — May 29.
The case file shows that Fulton County District Attorney Louise K. Sira was also involved in the investigation and contacted Keach to ask him to turn over any documents or records he possesses. Sira declined comment Friday.
According to the case file, Keach said he obtained Hughes’ phone records from Hughes’ estranged wife.
In the police report, Hughes told police his wife may have used a spare key to enter the city-issued vehicle. When police interviewed his wife, Melissa, she said she was not aware of the spare key, which Hughes said was kept in a drawer near the kitchen sink.
Melissa Hughes’s lawyer, Anthony Casale, told police they were not to question her about Keach’s acquisition of Hughes’ phone bills, the case file indicates.
The file also shows detectives made a number of searches for the missing items, which also included Hughes’ checkbook and assorted city and personal documents. Detectives also checked with local secondhand shops about anyone peddling a used laptop.
Keach said even if the police report supports Hughes’ version of events, it also supports the position he took in court July 16.
“That narrative confirms that I truthfully represented what I had been told and refutes claims I intentionally lied to the court,” he said.
Keach took the opportunity Friday to relate the police findings to the recent motion by the city’s attorneys, Girvin & Ferlazzo, to have him removed as Margiotta’s attorney and to have him barred from disclosing evidence obtained through discovery. The motion also accuses Keach of lying to the court in the July 16 hearing.
In light of the police findings, Keach said the city’s motions are “offensive and pathetic,” and a desperate attempt to prevent him, he said, “from legitimately advocating for my client.”
Keach said the theft of the computer would not even be an issue if it had been turned over when he first sought it. “Why was no effort made to preserve the records [in the computer files]?” Keach asked.