In the midst of an investigation into an alleged tape recording of the Bethlehem police chief making racist remarks and allegedly ordering the tape erased, town officials said they believe the tape in question may still be out there.
Bethlehem town attorney James Potter told The Spotlight on Wednesday, June 3, that the audio recording, which was brought to light by police officer Christopher Hughes, is still being sought.
We think the tape still exists, Potter said. "To go back to find a particular conversation from three years ago is a daunting task."
Currently, incoming calls handled by the department's dispatchers are recorded and erased after 30 days. Potter said that system wasn't in place three years ago when Bethlehem Police Chief Louis Corsi supposedly took a phone call from the Albany County Sheriff's Office and made disparaging comments about one of his administrative officers.
"We have no reason to believe the tape was erased," Potter said. "We're not even aware if it's possible to erase the tapes."
That's a point Hughes has been making, as well.
"I don't think they could have erased that tape even if they wanted to," Hughes told The Spotlight in an exclusive interview about Corsi allegedly asking his dispatchers to erase his recorded conversation.
Hughes said he has been the target of a town and police investigation since coming out with the allegations against Corsi as well as raising questions about other internal problems dealing with the union, complaints against a detective on the force and medical absence procedures.
"They're trying to force me out, but I'm doing this for the right reasons," Hughes said. "I've been in law enforcement for 17 years, I have nothing to hide."
The 13-year Bethlehem police veteran was been handed back-to-back 30-day suspensions in April and May, which he attributes to speaking out. Town officials say Hughes was suspended for abusing his sick time privileges and filing false documents for extra overtime pay and time off of work.