DA: Officer allegedly drew gun during arrest

JOHNSTOWN – Saratoga County prosecutors are investigating whether a suspended city police officer pulled his firearm while fellow officers were trying to arrest him in September.

Saratoga District Attorney James A. Murphy III confirmed it is alleged Adam Schwabrow drew his police firearm Sept. 19 while he was being placed under arrest on a felony rape charge.

Murphy said Friday his office – already serving as the special prosecution team in the criminal matter against Schwabrow – is looking into the alleged gun incident.

Schwabrow’s own department arrested him Sept. 19, accusing the former Johnstown Police Benevolent Association president of statutory rape in a case involving a teenage girl.

He faces a charge of third-degree rape, commonly known as statutory rape, a felony. If convicted, he faces the possibility of 1 1/3 to four years in state prison.

Schwabrow is free on $5,000 cash bail.

The 32-year-old officer was suspended from the department, and also was placed on unpaid leave from his other job as director of the Montgomery County Emergency Management Office on Sept. 24.

City police Chief Mark Gifford said previously that Schwabrow was arrested after an investigation revealed evidence he had sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl sometime over the past year and a half.

“It’s a girl less than 17, and in order to calm public fears, this victim was known to the defendant,” Murphy said.

The district attorney said he wants to clarify Schwabrow didn’t attack his victim and she wasn’t a stranger.

Asked to comment further on the case, Murphy stated: “I can’t comment on the evidence in the case. It was investigated.”

Schwabrow was initially suspended with pay, but was later placed on unpaid administrative leave for 30 days.

However, Gifford and city labor attorney Elayne Gold both verified that Schwabrow’s 30-day unpaid administrative leave expired Friday.

Gifford said he wasn’t sure what the next step in the processing of what he confirmed was at least one administrative charge against Schwabrow.

“It depends on the situation,” the chief said.

Gifford said it’s possible Schwabrow could go back on paid leave and still be suspended.

He said there also is a possibility Schwabrow faces more administrative charges.

“All options are on the table,” Gifford said.

Gold, who declined to spell out what administrative charges Schwabrow faces, said there is a current “notice of discipline” that is guiding Schwabrow’s case that gives the city the right to suspend the officer. She said the next administrative step is arbitration, which is pending through the state Labor Relations Board.

Schwabrow’s criminal case will be heard again at 9 a.m. Nov. 21 in Johnstown City Court before Acting City Court Judge Lisa Lorman. There is an order of protection for the alleged victim in this case.

Attorney Michael McDermott of the Albany-based law firm O’Connell and Aronowitz is serving as Schwabrow’s legal counsel.

Special prosecutor Jennifer Buckley, a Saratoga County assistant district attorney who handles sex crimes in Murphy’s office is prosecuting the case.

Johnstown City Court Judge Thomas Walsh and Fulton County District Attorney Louise Sira recused themselves from the case.

After Schwabrow’s arrest, Sira said the crime took place in the city of Johnstown. She said there has been no allegation or evidence of forced sexual contact between Schwabrow and the victim. She said forced sexual contact typically falls under the category of first-degree rape, which has not been charged in this case. She explained that people younger than the age of 17 in New York state cannot legally consent to sexual contact with an adult.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com