ITHACA, N.Y. (WETM) – Three police officers in Ithaca have been cleared of any wrongdoing by the New York State Police after a months-long investigation into an anonymous allegation of overtime fraud.
Ithaca Police Lieutenants Jacob Young and David Amaro, along with acting Ithaca Police Chief John Joly, have all been cleared of any wrongdoing after the completion of the investigation. In December of 2022, Ithaca Common Council Alderperson Cynthia Brock received an anonymous email that accused the three officers of committing overtime fraud. In the email, it also states the email writers believe that another officer would be a better chief for IPD. As this was during the time that Ithaca Police were looking for their next chief. Which is still an open project, which the City of Ithaca has failed to respond to multiple FOIL requests for documentation for.
The writer of the email accuses the officers of “double dipping” as they allegedly claimed the same hours worked for compensation from the City and other employers. The complaint was brought to the District Attorney’s Office and City of Ithaca HR Director Schelley Michell-Nunn by Alderpersons Cynthia Brock and Ducson Nguyen. The District Attorney originally forwarded the complaint to the New York State Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office (LEMIO), who after an initial review, declined to open an investigation into the matter. The District Attorney then requested that the New York State Police takeon the investigation, which they did.
Yesterday, the Ithaca Police Benevolent Association (IPBA) received notification from District Attorney Matthew VanHouten that all three officers had been cleared of any wrongdoing through the New York State Police Investigation. The President of the Ithaca PBA, Thomas Condzella, said that this was the outcome that the PBA expected all along.
My members cooperated fully with the investifation, they had nothing to hide. It’s a shame that the resources of the DA’s Office and the New York State Police had to be used on when we knew were bogus accusations. I commend Alderpersons Brock and Nguyen for bringing this forward, and I commend the DA for initiating the investigation, like us they are public officials who have a duty to uphold.Thomas Condzella, Ithaca PBA President
I question the motivations fo this complaint, it appeared to be an attempt to smear the reputations of my members and Acting Chief Joly, as opposed to a genuinely concerned member of our community bringing this forward in good faith.Thomas Condzella, Ithaca PBA President
Alderperson Brock commented, “It is not lost on Ducson and me that this accusatory email is brilliantly damning, and painted us into a corner. By acting responsibly as elected officials, we have been used as a cudgel to harass and further demoralize our esteemed and dedicated officers who have already been through so much.”
The PBA President said that he believes that the person that brought the allegations had a personal vendetta against the officers accused.
All the ghost write accomplished here was successfully misappropriateing county and state level law enforcement resources. They succeeded in puttin gan immense amount of stress on my members, Acting Chief Joly, and their families. At a time when we can’t afford to lose more cops,Thomas Condzella, Ithaca PBA President
The IPBA also poses some questions such as, why these allegations, which were originally made publicly during a rally on the Ithaca Commons in 2020, were not investigated then. Why was there, not an internal investigation started by the City Human Resources Department? Why didn’t HR further vet these complaints and coordinate with the DA’s Office before a criminal investigation was launched? They also ask, if these allegations were serious enough to warrant a criminal investigation, why did Mayor Laura Lewis allegedly tell the officers, including Acting Chief Joly that they were to continue reporting to work? “Business as usual” is what she is reportedly stated as saying.
Now the IPBA is calling on the District Attorney to open an investigation to identify the source of the complaint.
My members and the public also deserve to know the true motivations of the person that made this complaint, we all deserve to know if they were genuine. Based on the email alone, and the findings of the investigation, the only conclusion we can make is that this was a malicious personal and politicallty motivated attack.Thomas Condzella, Ithaca PBA President
We have reached out to Mayor Laura Lewis for a comment, and we will put that in this story if we receive a response. However, the trend of the officials in Ithaca has been to not respond to requests for comments, and to ignore FOIL requests. Today is another deadline on a FOIL request that the City has missed, and we will be following up with the next course of action for that.