Former Schenectady police chief Greg Kaczmarek both procured drugs for his personal use and sold them for profit, state Attorney General’s officials charged Thursday.
Kaczmarek would deal directly with Kerry Kirkem, the head of a large Schenectady-based drug operation, chastising Kirkem that he was holding up “business” when cocaine wasn’t available, an indictment alleges.
To read the complete indictment of former Schenectady police chief Gregory Kaczmarek, click here.
The former chief even went so far as to counsel Kirkem on what to do in response to a large drug seizure related to the organization, telling the kingpin in the den of a Central Avenue topless bar, DiCarlo’s Gentlemen’s Club, to move the organization’s drug stash houses and change their cellphone numbers, the state claims.
But it was already too late, authorities say.
In an indictment unsealed Thursday, the state Attorney General’s Office unveiled its case against the former chief, indicting both him and his wife Lisa on six separate counts of conspiracy and drug possession. The indictment includes a laundry list of telephone conversations secretly recorded between the Kaczmareks and Kirkem.
“It is shocking to all of us that a former police chief is alleged to have been intricately involved in a narcotics ring, but no one is above the law,” said state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, whose office is prosecuting the case. “The conduct Greg Kaczmarek is charged with in this case is an insult to all members of law enforcement who put their lives on the line every day to protect us.”
Greg and Lisa Kaczmarek are now among 25 people indicted related to the drug operation. Of those, 19 have already taken plea deals.
Among those is Kirkem. He pleaded guilty in June and is to get 12 years in state prison.
The Kaczmareks arrived at Schenectady County Court Thursday morning together and with Lisa’s son, Miles Smith. Smith was a co-defendant in the case and was among the 19 to have taken deals.
None made comments as they entered the courthouse.
And, six years removed from his stint as chief of the Schenectady Police Department, Greg Kaczmarek and his wife both appeared before Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago, pleading innocent to all the charges.
They both answered standard questions, giving their Social Security numbers and birth dates. Greg Kaczmarek’s birthday, Feb. 20, was a centerpiece in a previously obtained telephone transcript where the couple allegedly requested drugs for the event.
His attorney, Thomas O’Hern, did not return a call for comment later. Lisa Kaczmarek’s attorney, Kevin Luibrand, noted that the accusations against her are essentially the same as before.
Drago continued Lisa Kaczmarek’s bail at $10,000 and set her husband’s at the same. He posted bail on the spot. Both were fingerprinted and photographed.
Greg Kaczmarek served as Schenectady police chief from 1996 to 2002, retiring in the wake of a department drug scandal that sent four officers to prison. Allegations of drug use have long dogged him, even predating his time as chief. In the days before he was appointed, he denied the rumors at a news conference.
Thursday’s indictment goes into much more detail about the Kaczmareks’ alleged involvement in the drug ring than the initial indictment in May. Authorities apparently realized they had only enough to indict Lisa Kaczmarek then but mentioned Greg Kaczmarek in that indictment.
In the intervening four months, however, investigators looked through mountains of evidence, including thousands of telephone calls, officials said.
Investigators used voice recognition techniques to identify the callers. They also were able to match phone numbers to them.
State Police C-NET Lt. Michael Tietz, whose investigators helped run the case, noted that the Kaczmareks were not the targets of the investigation initially.
The majority of callers were users, looking to buy drugs for themselves, he said.
The information uncovered was then presented to prosecutors.
“Nobody feels good about arresting a former public official,” Tietz said. “But he chose the path he took and he’ll have to deal with the consequences.”
Details of what investigators allegedly found are in the indictment, including multiple phone calls between Greg Kaczmarek and Kerry Kirkem in February, each of them secretly recorded by state police wiretaps.
According to the indictment, Greg Kaczmarek received a shipment of cocaine from Kerry Kirkem in early January. Lisa Kaczmarek then paid for the shipment days later.
The indictment offers the following details:
The lengthy list of phone calls begins Feb. 1. On that day alone, there were at least four separate calls between Greg Kaczmarek and Kirkem. In the first call, at 9:18 a.m., the former chief asked Kirkem to call him back once Kirkem got out of bed.
Later phone calls that day refer to alleged requests by Greg Kaczmarek for cocaine. Kirkem responded that he was awaiting a shipment.
Greg Kaczmarek told Kirkem that he was holding him up so that Kaczmarek could not “do business.” He obtained more cocaine from Kirkem the next day. Kirkem even confided in Lisa Kaczmarek that he was unhappy with the large drug source and would get a new one with better quality.
The calls began again Feb. 3, with Lisa Kaczmarek asking for more cocaine. And they continued in the days that followed. On Feb. 6, Lisa Kaczmarek told Kirkem he could deliver the cocaine the next day. They also had the money to pay for a previous delivery.
Kirkem then told a worker to package cocaine “for the chief.”
Kirkem, who was then with Lisa’s son, Miles Smith, then offered to drop it off but for reasons not included in the indictment, Lisa asked for a brief delay.
She did not want Kirkem dropping off cocaine with her son in the car. She would be home later to accept the drugs.
Miles Smith has already admitted to a charge related to the conspiracy.
The indictment then repeats prior allegations that Greg and Lisa Kaczmarek wanted cocaine to celebrate his birthday. Those allegations also included an alleged offer to pick up a shipment himself Feb. 18 and that he would “flash his badge.”
New, however, is information concerning an alleged meeting between the Kaczmareks and Kirkem Feb. 20 to discuss a response to a police drug seizure.
Greg Kaczmarek allegedly told Kirkem he needed to move his stash houses and change telephone numbers. The worker who lost the drugs to police, Misty Gallo, also should be fired. Stash houses were soon moved, authorities alleged, with the help of Smith.
The Kaczmareks face two conspiracy counts, the higher related to cocaine, the lower to marijuana.
In the alleged marijuana conspiracy, Kirkem would collect money from the Kaczmareks and others generated through marijuana sales.
On Feb. 3, Greg Kaczmarek allegedly asked Kirkem for marijuana, but only enough for personal use.
Two days later, Lisa Kaczmarek allegedly offered to give Kirkem $300 from Greg Kaczmarek’s cocaine sales and $120 from her own marijuana sales. She also needed another four or five bags of marijuana to sell.
The specific drug charges accuse the Kaczmareks each of possessing more than one-eighth ounce of cocaine Feb. 2 and Feb. 6 and possessing cocaine with intent to sell that same day.