UPDATED - Bethlehem Town Attorney: 'We think the tape still exists'

"I brought the board up to date on what is going on with these investigations and what is being said in the newspaper," Cunningham said, adding that the board members frequently talk with with residents and didn't want them blind-sided by accusations and questions about the investigations.

"I simply wanted to keep them informed of what is happening," he said.

Hughes' allegation of an internal racism cover up raises some questions about the nearly completely Caucasian male police force of 43 officers that serve the suburban town of around 35,000 residents.

There is only one female officer on the force and she alleged discrimination against Corsi and Police Lieutenant Thomas Heffernan in 2007. The Spotlight ran a story about the matter on July 18, 2007, when police officer Ragina Cocchiara, who was a nine-year veteran at the time, claimed she was passed up for sergeant for the fourth time after applying for the job last year.

She said she was passed over for male applicants even though she placed in the top three on the Civil Service exam.

Cocchiara was eventually promoted to patrol sergeant on Aug. 18, 2008. She is the town's first female police sergeant and is now an 11-year veteran of the Bethlehem Police Department.

"It has become apparent through some very deep reflection and discussions with my peers that I have been unfairly discriminated against in this process," Cocchiara wrote to the Town Board in 2007 after not getting the promotion. "I am concerned that my actions and courage to achieve justice may result in future disciplinary or punitive measures against me."

Hughes said the Cocchiara situation last year only highlights a pattern of "punishing those who speak out."

Cunningham said that diversifying the town's police force has been goal of not only himself, but of prior supervisors, too.

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