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Guilderland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, October 30, 2008
Year-and-a-half investigation yields a quiet plea
By Saranac Hale Spencer
GUILDERLAND A year and half after Chief James Murley left the Guilderland Police Department amid accusations of wrongdoing, Albany County’s district attorney has offered him a plea deal.
A couple of weeks ago, District Attorney David Soares offered Murley a deal that would charge him with offering a false instrument for filing and defrauding the government, said Soares’s spokeswoman Heather Orth.
She would only confirm information that was printed in a recent Times Union article, because, she said, it had already been made public, following a meeting Soares had with the Times Union editorial board. The newspaper endorsed Democrat Soares over his challenger, Roger Cusick, running on the Integrity line, for the upcoming election two days after the story ran.
“I’d rather not have my husband be used any further than he already has,” said Debra Murley yesterday, in response to Cusick’s accusation that Soares’s office timed the plea deal politically.
“Mr. Soares has finally resurrected the case against Murley, which has been sitting on his desk these past 18 months, in an attempt to distract the public from his inept management of the District Attorney’s office and lack of a plan to stem gun violence in our community,” said a release from Cusick this week. Soares’s office had no response to Cusick’s accusation, Orth said.
The town placed Murley on paid administrative leave on Feb. 8, 2007 after a town department head lodged a complaint about sexual harassment with the supervisor’s office on Feb. 5. The town then hired Claudia Ryan, an attorney specializing in employee relations, to investigate the charge, which led to other allegations, Supervisor Kenneth Runion said at the time. Murley was suspended without pay on March 9.
The town came up with four charges against Murley: misconduct in connection with interaction with a vendor; alleged violations of the town’s ethics law, involving interactions with other town employees; misconduct regarding the maintenance of complete and accurate attendance and leave records; and sexual harassment.
All of the charges looked into by the town were strictly “administrative disciplinary matters,” Runion said at the time. Guilderland contacted the district attorney’s office, though, which began an investigation in its public integrity unit.
In April of this year, Orth said that the investigation had taken a new direction. When asked this week about what that direction was, she said, it was “just part of the investigation.”
Neither Murley nor his lawyer, William J. Cade, could be reached for comment. When the town’s charges were first served, though, Cade said, “Whoever drafted those charges ought to be given an award for creative writing or seduction of language.”
At the time, Murley said that he had no plans to leave the department, but, after a 35-year career, he retired in May from the $97,000 post.
“I’m very proud of him and proud of his accomplishments…This has been very hard for us.” Debra Murley said following his retirement.
“He lived in Guilderland for 50 years. He loved his work and he loves this town,” she said at the time
Although she wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the deal or her husband’s response to it, Debra Murley said yesterday, “We’ve had enough… It’s just been so hard.”