‘I’m disgusted with myself’

JOHNSTOWN – After expressing remorse for having sex with an underage girl, former city police officer Adam Schwabrow was sentenced Tuesday in Fulton County Court to a year in jail.

“I apologize,” the 32-year-old Schwabrow stated, his voice cracking. “I was the adult in the situation. Quite frankly, I’m disgusted with myself.”

The former city K-9 officer added, “I will never make this mistake again.”

Acting Fulton County Court Judge Peter Feldstein sentenced the defendant based on his March 4 guilty plea to one felony third-degree rape count as part of a plea arrangement. The judge also issued a nine-year “stay away” order for Schwabrow to have no contact with his victim, or risk up to seven years in state prison.

“We will protect children and will deter others from violating them, and we will hold those who swear to uphold the law to be responsible for their actions,” Feldstein said.

The victim was not in the courtroom, but several family members of Schwabrow attended the proceeding.

Schwabrow was convicted of having consensual sex with a 16-year-old girl in May 2011 in Johnstown when he was a 29-year-old police officer. He will be considered a sex offender by the state.

Schwabrow appeared in civilian dress clothes – a defense request granted by the judge.

Schwabrow already is incarcerated in the Warren County Jail in Lake George. After giving his guilty plea in March, Schwabrow asked to begin to serve his time before sentencing. Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey received permission from the state Commission of Correction to send Schwabrow to the Warren County Jail as a “substitute jail” instead of the Fulton County Jail for safety reasons.

Lorey said it was Schwabrow’s personal choice to begin serving his time early. With good behavior, he could be released by the holiday season later this year.

Schwabrow was charged Sept. 19 by the Johnstown Police Department with third-degree rape, commonly known as statutory rape. He could have faced 1 1/3 to four years in state prison for the charge.

Feldstein several times referred to Schwabrow as a “good person” who has served the area, such as helping with flood-recovery efforts in Fort Plain.

He said Schwabrow is better served by spending less time in jail.

“I do believe a period of a state incarceration would not be necessary or appropriate under these circumstances,” the judge said.

Feldstein also told Schwabrow directly: “You are a good man; you are a member of your community. You’ve got the love and respect of your family, and that is enormous.”

Saratoga County Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Buckley, the special prosecutor in the case, said Schwabrow not only had sex with an underage girl “several times,” but violated the trust his community has in a police officer.

“She does not wish to make a statement,” Buckley said of the victim.

Defense attorney Michael McDermott of Albany told the court Schwabrow has “accepted responsibility for his actions.”

Schwabrow had also served as director of the Montgomery County Emergency Management Office, but that county replaced him after his arrest.

Schwabrow is the Police Department’s former Johnstown Police Benevolent Association president and K-9 officer.

Feldstein spoke at length about the sentence, noting the court received a number of letters from “frankly good, good people” supporting Schwabrow. He said many were from law-enforcement officers.

“Those folks to a certain extent went out on a limb to make a plea on your behalf,” the judge told the defendant.

He added, “The court received letters from your priest, your wife, your mother and your father.”

Feldstein said of Schwabrow: “We don’t have a bad person. In very many ways, we have just the opposite.”

He said it is “clear to me” Schwabrow is remorseful and “not a risk to the community.”

But the judge said this case represents a “complicated issue” involving an underage girl who didn’t want a trial and is “moving on with her life.”

Feldstein said the victim’s future may include an “inability to trust partners” and “damaged self-esteem.”

“There is a harm to address that is real and serious and important for this court to consider,” the judge said.