SCHENECTADY - While uncertain about what city police Detective Sherri Barnes wore, a pharmacist testifying this morning in Barnes’ official misconduct trial said she was certain of what Barnes showed her.
“I definitely saw the badge,” pharmacist Susan Bell testified today under cross-examination by Barnes’ defense attorney, Paul DerOhannesian.
Barnes also identified herself as police officer verbally, Bell testified.
Bell’s testimony forms the basis of one of three misdemeanors Barnes faces — official misconduct. Barnes also faces two other counts of criminal diversion.
A 20-year veteran of the police department, Barnes is accused of illegally purchasing medication from a friend, Susan Jewett.
Prosecutors claim that Barnes, 43, and Jewett would go to pharmacies and Jewett would fill the prescription and then give it to Barnes. During one transaction on Jan. 5, 2009, Barnes allegedly showed her badge to Bell get immediate action.
In his questioning, DerOhannesian stressed earlier statements by Bell that Barnes was wearing a police uniform. Barnes, as a detective, wore plain clothes for work.
But, Bell said she remembered Barnes wore dark blue. In recounting the events two weeks later to investigators, she extrapolated that Barnes wore a uniform.
Bell also estimated Barnes showed the badge for between 5 and 10 seconds.
She earlier had estimated less than 30 seconds.
Barnes is standing trial on two counts of criminal diversion and one count of official misconduct.
Bell’s testimony began Thursday afternoon as the first witness in the trial.
Bell told the jury that Jan. 5, 2009, was a busy day at the Metcare pharmacy on State Street. It was the first Monday after the New Year’s Day holiday.
First, Jewett had a prescription for the drug Soma, then returned a short time later from the nearby clinic with another for Lortab. The Soma prescription was filled, but the later Lortab prescription had to wait for others to be processed.
The drug Soma, also called carisoprodol, is used to relieve pain and discomfort caused by muscle injuries. It is not a controlled substance in New York but does require a prescription. Lortab is a form of the painkiller hydrocodone and is a controlled substance in New York.
As they waited, Jewett was joined by a woman Bell later learned was Barnes. Barnes asked twice what was taking so long. Bell described Barnes as wearing dark blue.
The third time she asked, Barnes showed her badge.
“She flashed her badge at me and I said to her that I’m almost done, I can’t do anything faster than I’m already doing it,’ “ Bell testified Thursday.
Bell said that had never happened before, and that Barnes’ demeanor was “not very courteous.”
Bell said there was also no point in showing her the badge because it wasn’t going to speed up the process. She didn’t tell police about the incidents until investigators came two weeks later and asked about the transaction.
Prosecutors allege Barnes has had a problem with prescription medication for up to seven years. She was investigated in 2005 by the state Department of Health for alleged doctor shopping. It was that investigation that led Barnes to see the medications elsewhere, including from Jewett, whom the prosecution described as a crack cocaine addict.
The defense is arguing that Barnes was trying to help Jewett and that the case is an example of the expression “No good deed goes unpunished.”
Barnes is one of several Schenectady police officers the department is trying to fire.