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Ex-jail guard fined for marijuana possession

Ex-jail guard fined for marijuana possession

His arrest led to four corrections officers who were with him resigning
Ex-jail guard fined for marijuana possession
David Garhartt leaves Rotterdam Town Court on April 5.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

SCHENECTADY -- A former Schenectady County jail guard arrested on felony marijuana charges in March has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and been fined $1,000, Rotterdam Town Court records show.

David Garhartt, who was fired as a jail guard in 2011 over a drug allegation and again in 2015 after he had been reinstated, was arrested at his home on March 30. Four jail guards who were with him at the time resigned following an internal investigation at the jail, but were not charged.

Garhartt's plea, entered on June 19, included a requirement that he cooperate with the ongoing state police investigation that led to his arrest; state police have refused to comment on that probe.

Garhartt, 48, of Rotterdam, was charged after an early morning state police raid. He faced three felony counts, charging him with possessing to a pound and a half of marijuana, and quantities of marijuana oil and marijuana candy. The raid took place at Garhartt's Fiero Avenue home.

District Attorney Robert Carney could not be reached for comment on Friday, but said earlier this week that reduction of charges to a misdemeanor with a fine is a typical disposition for a first-time offender who cooperated. Despite previous allegations of drug use, this was Garhartt's first arrest.

The four officers who resigned from the jail were seen by state police during their investigation entering the residence owned by Garhartt, and there was evidence of drug use, police said at the time. No one other than Garhartt was arrested, however. 

Garhartt's arrest led to a swift internal investigation by the Schenectady County Sheriff's Department and the resignations of the four officers. Sheriff Dominic Dagostino wouldn't identify them, but they were later identified as Sgt. Lloyd Robistow, Sgt. Richard Cellini, and Corrections Officers George LaFreniere and Eric Bailey, after the Daily Gazette submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for payroll records.

Dagostino said there was no indication other corrections officers were involved in drug use, and there was no further internal probe after the four resignations.

Garhartt's arrest came less than five months after he reached a $185,000 settlement in a federal lawsuit against Schenectady County related to his 2015 termination. 

Garhartt was first fired in June 2011 after about a decade on the job over alleged purchases of small amounts of cocaine, sources said then. He was never arrested.

According to his federal lawsuit, Garhartt underwent drug rehabilitation and was rehired. 

But in 2015, Garhartt said in his lawsuit, the county learned he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder related to having served in the Marines from 1988 to 1992 and terminated him because of it. He sued under the American's with Disabilities Act and other statutes, and the case was settled with a financial payment to Garhartt in November 2017, court records showed.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter. Gazette reporter Steven Cook contributed to this report.

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