Lawlor cited as 'whistleblower'

Town Supervisor Ken Runion has identified Guilderland Chief of Police Carol Lawlor as the whistleblower who alerted town officials to former Chief James Murley's gambling while on town time.

The revelation comes following recent accusations by Town Councilman Mark Grimm that Runion knew that Lawlor, Murley's subordinate at the time, knew about the gambling.

Lawlor was eventually hired by the town to replace Murley, and Runion said she had acted appropriately.

"I don't believe Chief Lawlor did anything wrong," Runion said.

Runion said Lawlor told officials about Murley's gambling shortly after he was placed on administrative leave following sexual harassment allegations in February 2007.

Grimm said he is accusing Lawlor of acting inappropriately, not illegally, for using a code name to contact Murley while he was gambling, and for bringing the issue to anyone's attention that her husband, John Tashjian, loaned money to Murley.

"The use of a code name indicates deception," said Grimm. "That's what code names are used for."

Runion said that the information provided by Lawlor in early 2007 led to an investigation to find out if Murley was gambling on sick time. Runion said State Police were able to subpoena records from the casino showing Murley had been there on town time. Eventually, Murley accepted a plea deal on charges stemming from him using sick leave at Turning Stone Casino on more than 50 occasions.

Runion said a 1992 "gag order" prohibiting members of the police department from discussing "department policy or any department business," with Town Board members prevented Lawlor from bringing the issue up prior to Murley's suspension.

"It was the chain of command," Runion said. "My opinion was that Chief Lawlor was under this order, and it prevented her from raising suspicions until Murley was on administrative leave."

Grimm said Runion should have overridden the order, since Runion was Murley's supervisor, but Runion said he was unaware of the order until after Murley was placed on administrative leave.

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