Port Chester police boss charged with witness tamper

November 6, 2013 6:50:06 AM PST
The police chief of a suburban New York village was in a hospital undergoing a mental health evaluation Tuesday, a day after his arrest on federal criminal charges alleging he retaliated against his temporary replacement for cooperating with the FBI.

Joseph Krzeminski, 62, of Port Chester in Westchester County was released on $100,000 bail Monday, but was required to undergo the mental health evaluation before being released to the custody of his son William, who is also a Port Chester police officer.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James McMahon told Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith in White Plains federal court late Monday that Krzeminski was arrested at 3 p.m. that day in Rye, N.Y., on charges of witness tampering and retaliating against a witness. The charges carry a potential prison term of 40 years.

The arrest came as the FBI investigates allegations surrounding the disappearance of more than $26,000 in cash and narcotics from the evidence room at the Port Chester Police Department.

Authorities said in a criminal complaint that the elder Krzeminski physically threatened and retaliated against the department's acting chief, who was cooperating with the FBI. They said he barged into the acting chief's Port Chester home last week, shouted that the acting chief was a "rat" and made a fist and cocked his arm as if he planned to strike the acting chief.

Prosecutors said Krzeminski also stormed into a Port Chester Village Board meeting last Thursday as it was about to go into executive session, causing him to be arrested at the direction of the acting chief.

Krzeminski's criminal lawyer declined comment.

But Warren Roth, who represents Krzeminski on labor issues, called the allegations "absolutely false" and noted that Krzeminski had asked the FBI to investigate when he learned there was missing evidence.

"I can tell you that I just sat with the chief within the past hour and he unequivocally denies the allegations," Roth said Tuesday afternoon.

As to the claim that he called the acting chief a "rat," Roth said Krzeminski "denies ever saying any such thing."

He said Krzeminski, who has been police chief for 18 years and on the force for 36 years, asked the FBI to investigate because he wanted an independent probe to locate the missing money.

"The chief welcomes the FBI's presence there and asked them to come in and investigate everything," Roth said of a probe that began in early September.

He said the dispute with the acting police chief who took over when he went on medical leave several weeks ago was a "he said, she said" argument that developed as a result of a personality conflict between the men.