SCHENECTADY -- A criminal contempt charge against Police Officer Mark McCracken will be dismissed in six months, as long as he doesn’t get arrested again.
McCracken on Tuesday accepted an offer from the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office for an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal of the charge. Judge Guido Loyola later signed the decision, which also requires McCracken to have no contact with his wife, Cassie Walker, unless they are both attending school or sports activities, medical appointments or in other instances involving their son.
The charge will be dismissed on Sept. 26, as long as McCracken stays out of trouble.
Walker and McCracken are in the process of getting divorced.
McCracken would not comment on the decision Tuesday.
The decision still allows McCracken to carry his service weapon, as the stay away order was not the result of a finding of offensive or abusive conduct by McCracken, according to Mary Lynch, a clinical professor of law at Albany Law School.
In order for the stay away order to interfere with his police position, "[the finding] has to amount to a crime or a violation of New York law that is listed as a family offense," Lynch said.
McCracken was arrested and charged with second-degree criminal contempt in January for allegedly violating an order of custody and visitation. Walker accused McCracken of violating the order when he came in “close physical proximity” to her during their son’s hockey game at a Union College hockey rink on Jan. 7.
McCracken was placed on administrative leave after his arrest.
Rebecca Bauscher, McCracken's attorney, said Tuesday's decision allows McCracken to avoid a trial and potentially having to call on state Supreme Court Judge Barry Kramer to explain how Kramer's original order of custody and visitation allowed McCracken and Walker to be near each other when attending their son's activities.
This would have meant Kramer would have to recuse himself from the divorce proceedings between Walker and McCracken. That would also mean McCraken and Walker would have to start their divorce proceedings all over again.
"I think it was a good result for my client," Bauscher said.
Bauscher added that she believes the Police Department and the District Attorney's Office misinterpreted Kramer's original order.
"I think that's something we'll always disagree on," said Assistant District Attorney Kyle Petit, who added that Tuesday's decision was typical for many people who are charged with second-degree criminal contempt.
"It's a pretty standard disposition in a case where someone is charged with a crime like this," Petit said. "It's not one where violence was alleged, and he doesn't have a criminal history in any way."
Earlier this month, it was revealed publicly that McCracken was taken off administrative leave and was demoted from lieutenant to patrol officer. It was also revealed the disciplinary proceedings regarding McCracken’s arrest were resolved without a hearing, according to city Public Safety Commissioner Michael Eidens.
The department would not say whether McCracken’s recent legal issues were the cause of his demotion.
Last week, a charge of felony grand larceny that was filed against Walker based on a complaint from McCracken was reduced to a misdemeanor petty larceny charge and then dismissed by Niskayuna Town Justice Peter Scagnelli. That charge alleged Walker stole $1,202.16 from McCracken's personal bank account.
The charge was dismissed at the request of the Schenectady County District Attorney's Office.