Media probes wrongful transfer of PBA member

Various media outlets continue to probe the situation in which a State Police Captain was transferred, and in the PBA’s view, demoted. The PBA is defending the member and will continue to fight for his rights. Below is a link to an article published in the Times Union newspaper on Friday, Nov. 17 with updated news on the situation. Also included below is an opinion column by Times Union columnist Fred LeBrun, which appeared in the Sunday, Nov. 19 issue of the newspaper.

News article:

Opinion Column By Fred LeBrun

First published: Sunday, November 19, 2006

The more dirty linen that gets washed concerning the domestic incident Congressman John Sweeney can arguably blame for costing him re-election last week, the uglier it gets.

All in ways I suspect Sweeney never anticipated when he hired prominent area attorney E. Stewart Jones to investigate the source of the damaging information.

That investigation is rebounding on Sweeney, and dragging others into the muck with him. So far, none of the charges Sweeney made in rebuttal has proved correct.

At first, Sweeney insisted that a leaked State Police domestic incident report printed in this newspaper and two others was fabricated, and spoon fed to us by a top Democratic political strategist. He said we’d been duped.

You’re not hearing that anymore.

Sources continue to tell us the information we printed accurately reflects a State Police report, and that at this point Sweeney knows that. He has produced nothing to refute what was printed.

Now Sweeney’s verbal emphasis has shifted to demanding to know who leaked the information. That’s a far cry from his first complaint.

New revelations lead us to believe that there apparently are dueling State Police incident reports about the 911 call made to them by Sweeney’s wife complaining her husband was "knocking her around the house," according to the report that was published.

At the very least, this broadly suggests efforts were made at the top echelons of the State Police to deflect attention from the initial, complete report, or to bury that first report to protect the Sweeneys.

As a topper, out of the blue, Frank Pace, a 28-year State Police veteran and the BCI captain who headed a successful criminal investigation against Sweeney’s son, John J., in an unrelated incident has been transferred and demoted. Without being accused outright, Pace is taking the fall for the leaked document. The troopers’ Police Benevolent Association is screaming foul.

"This is really starting to smell," says Dan De Federicis, president of the union.

Right again.

De Federicis insists Pace is absolutely the wrong guy — and that the investigation of the emerging cover-up should be just as hot as the investigation of the leak. The union head has no confidence at this point that top State Police management can do a credible job of investigating. He’s got a point.

"We need to see outside investigators come in with subpoena powers," says De Federicis.

You may recall it was just a few months ago that this same union head sent a damning letter to top state officials accusing top State Police brass of mishandling the Bucky Phillips manhunt in western New York, and that as a result a trooper died needlessly.

Very strong stuff.

De Federicis sees the two events, the Phillips manhunt and Sweeneygate, as linked: Both offer insights into what the union has been complaining about, systemic problems with the State Police leadership.

So where’s the investigation demanded by De Federicis in the first instance? "We were told to wait until after the election by several government officials," he said, insisting it isn’t going away. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been especially receptive, but so have others.

We wait to see what the next load of dirty linen will bring. As a postscript, so far it appears that as hard as E. Stewart is trying, establishing a link between the named top Democratic strategist and the leaked document is hard to come by. That would make Sweeney 0 for 3 in terms of his original accusations.