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Alissa Scott/Recorder staff Fulton County District Attorney Louise Sira, left, and Johnstown Police Chief Mark Gifford talk at a news conference Friday about the arrest of Montgomery County Emergency Management Director and Johnstown police officer Adam Schwabrow.

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Rape count lodged: County official placed on paid leave

Saturday, September 21, 2013 - Updated: 4:08 AM

By ALISSA SCOTT

alissa.scott@recordernews.com

JOHNSTOWN -- Montgomery County Emergency Management Director and Johnstown police officer Adam Schwabrow was arrested at work Thursday night after an internal investigation into alleged sex crimes from more than a year ago, officials said at a news conference Friday.

Schwabrow, 32, was arrested around 8 p.m. at the Johnstown Police Department and charged with third-degree rape, a class E felony.

Married with children, Schwabrow has been employed by the Johnstown Police Department as a K-9 officer for about nine years, earning between $55,000 and $60,000 annually, Johnstown Police Chief Mark Gifford said. He was also formerly the town of Mohawk's fire chief.

Schwabrow was arraigned around 10:30 a.m. Friday and released on $5,000 cash bail at the correctional facility.

Police said Lt. David Gilbo was able to cultivate leads that directed him toward an alleged sex crime by an officer in the department.

Gifford said he wouldn't comment on how many occasions the alleged acts took place, but Fulton County District Attorney Louise K. Sira added, at this time, Schwabrow was charged with only one count.

The age of consent for any sexual act in New York is 17, even if the act is consensual between parties, Sira said.

"I'm not going to comment on what she did or didn't do, because she's a victim of a crime," Sira said. "So by law, she cannot consent to any sexual contact."

To her knowledge, Sira said there is no evidence that indicates the act was forcible or that Schwabrow was on duty at the time. Sira said an order of protection has been established for the victim.

Gifford said they learned about the investigation this week, but that the incident happened "within the past year, year and a half." Sira said the investigation and arrest were substantiated within a day's time.

"Obviously, it's, to say the least, an embarrassing day for this agency," Gifford said. "But again, the police officers that work here are not above the law, and we investigate any and all complaints, be it against a civilian or a police officer."

Officials said Schwabrow had been suspended with pay from the police department until an administrative investigation is complete.

Gifford would not comment on whether the department will be looking into firing Schwabrow, citing confidential personnel issues.

Schwabrow was also immediately placed on administrative leave with pay, pending further information and future developments, from his position as Montgomery County emergency management director, a news release said.

In the interim, deputy director Rick Sager has been placed in charge of the office until further notice, Board of Supervisors Chairman John Thayer said.

In response to a question about Schwabrow's character, Gifford was unable to describe him any further.

"There's really nothing to comment on," Gifford said. "The allegations were investigated and probable cause was established and he was arrested."

Schwabrow has been the witness or arresting officer in several pending cases with the district attorney's office and the Johnstown City Court.

"His status as an individual that's been arrested automatically calls those cases into question and most likely will be the subject of various defense motions, I'm sure," Sira said. "It does complicate the process, obviously."

His next scheduled appearance in court is Tuesday at 9 a.m. in Johnstown City Court.

"Because of his involvement with pending cases, both with our district attorney's office and with this court, it's likely this court will adjourn the proceeding to seek a judge that does not have direct involvement in these cases," Sira said. "In addition, because our office has active files where he is the arresting officer, we will be forced to seek the assignment of a special prosecutor."

Sira did not indicate who that assignment may be, but when contacted Friday night, Montgomery County District Attorney James E. "Jed" Conboy said he had not received a request to prosecute the case.

Because Schwabrow is a county official, Conboy may not be assigned the case.

The maximum penalty for Schwabrow's charges is between 1 1/3 and four years in state prison.

     

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