Former city Police Chief Gregory Kaczmarek will be behind bars for much of the next two years, but state prison officials expect to keep him safe.
“We will take into consideration that he’s a former law enforcement employee and evaluate those needs and risks throughout the process,” state corrections spokeswoman Linda Foglia said Wednesday. “A more permanent facility could include a protective custody unit.”
His daily routine will be arranged for him.
Meals will be at set times. Shower times will be set. And a day’s work is worth $1.05. But his medical needs will have to be provided for.
Kaczmarek pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony drug possession count, related to a drug ring that was busted this summer, taking down two dozen dealers, runners and users.
He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 2, along with his wife, Lisa Kaczmarek. She pleaded guilty to attempted drug possession and is to receive six months in the county jail. Her husband’s time will be spent in state prison.
They both remain free awaiting their sentencings. On a two-year sentence, Greg Kaczmarek could satisfy his sentencing requirement in one year and five months, depending on his behavior while in custody. That time would begin running once he surrenders himself.
Lisa Kaczmarek’s six-month sentence could be reduced to four months with good behavior, but no further than that, officials said.
Prison jobs pay $1.05 per day, money that can go toward commissary items like stamps or snacks. Inmates can supplement that with their own money and can spend up to $50 over two weeks, Foglia said.
In addition to the $1.05 per day, Kaczmarek will also receive his state pension of $36,096 annually, officials with the state Comptroller’s Office said. The pension for his police career is guaranteed and not affected by criminal convictions.
As a former member of law enforcement, Greg Kaczmarek’s status will be taken into account when deciding where to house him, Foglia said.
Kaczmarek’s attorney, Thomas O’Hern, expressed fears of the former chief on Tuesday.
“He’s very concerned about that,” O’Hern said. “It’s a huge issue for him and we’re working on that. It’s a serious concern.”
At least two former Schenectady police officers have spent time at the Oneida Correctional Facility in Rome, a medium security prison, records show.
At the Schenectady County jail, Sheriff Harry Buffardi said an important step for inmates is classification.
Many inmates have enemies, not just former officers. The trick is finding a grouping that works, he said.
“The advantages [the state] has is they have so many more locations and so much more bed space,” Buffardi said.
But if Buffardi’s plans work out, Greg Kaczmarek won’t be at the jail for long.
He said he plans to reach out to Kaczmarek’s attorney in January to get a better idea of the former chief’s health problems. Once he’s in custody, he could be moved to the state’s custody quicker.
Both his and his wife’s first few days in the jail will be lonely ones, Buffardi said.
Each inmate brought in is put in isolation while they are being classified. That’s 23 hours per day in a cell, with an hour for recreation and a shower. That typically lasts about 72 hours and allows officials time to determine whether inmates are risks and whether they have any infectious diseases.
“We will treat him like any other inmate,” Buffardi said. “He won’t get any better treatment, he won’t get any worse treatment.”
If Kaczmarek has to stay longer, Buffardi said he might have to send him to another local jail, one where he is less well-known. As a former member of law enforcement, he would generally be seen by inmates “as a member of the other team,” Buffardi said.
But, with health issues in mind, “we’ll put him on the rush list” for state prison.
Kaczmarek’s tenure as police chief from 1996 until 2002 also saw four officers go to federal prison in 2002 after an FBI investigation. A U.S. Justice Department civil rights investigation has never been formally closed.
Kaczmarek’s first state destination will be the Downstate Correctional Facility in Fishkill, a classification facility. He’ll be there from four to six weeks while he is evaluated for risk factors to himself or others.
That’s also where his inmate number will be assigned. It will begin with “09a,” Foglia said, the “09” for the year. The final four digits will be sequential based on how many inmates have come through already that year.
It is a path others have taken, including former Schenectady police detective Jeffrey Curtis.
Curtis, who admitted to taking drugs from the department in 2007, is serving his 31⁄2- to 4-year sentence at the Oneida Correctional Facility, a medium-security prison in Rome.
Former city police officer Kenneth Hill also spent time in Oneida on a gun sale conviction. Hill also spent time at the medium-security Hudson Correctional Facility in Hudson before his 2006 release.
Kaczmarek’s final destination won’t be known until the classification process is complete.
His time in prison will be one of structure and routines, state corrections spokeswoman Foglia said.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner will all be served at set times. In between will be assignments, usually work duty.
“Perhaps he’ll work in the laundry, perhaps he’ll work as a porter,” Foglia said of typical prison jobs. “From there, the evening hours are yours to make phone calls, watch television or, perhaps get some type of counseling.”
Lisa Kaczmarek will have a similar isolation period as her husband, then be classified and put on a tier. Her security issues may be less than her husband’s, Buffardi said, as she never worked in law enforcement. They will be taken into account just the same.
Her typical day would include making her bed, going to set meal times. Programs are also offered. Television must be paid for, phone calls, too. She’ll get two visiting hours per week, one hour on the weekend and one during the week.
“Generally, it’s not a real pleasant place,” Buffardi said. “There’s not a lot of frills to it.”
She’ll have a diet of 3,000 calories per day. The jail has a rotating 28-day menu.
“It’s very routine and very repetitive,” Buffardi said.
Lisa Kaczmarek will get the standard one-third off her sentence for good behavior. Rarely is that taken away, Buffardi said, but it is a possibility with poor behavior.
That means she will serve a minimum of four months. A controversial conditional release program that at one time could have reduced that further has been abolished, Probation Director Mary Lolik said.
Once released, Lisa Kaczmarek will start her five years on probation. Probation officers will determine her risk status and how many times per month she will have to see a probation officer.
As someone who has admitted to a drug crime, Lolik said, Lisa Kaczmarek will also be subject to random drug testing. A year-old program requires probationers to call in each night to determine if they will be tested the next day.
“She will get no special consideration, not at all,” Lolik said. “If you’re the police chief’s wife, you’re a role model. It’s disappointing to see him do that and her. They were role models.”