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Bethlehem police chief's conversation found

The Town of Bethlehem released on Friday, Sept. 18, a transcript of a conversation Chief of Police Louis Corsi had with former Albany County Undersheriff John Mahan in which Corsi used a racial slur.

The conversation occurred on Jan. 26, 2006, at 10:46 a.m., and Corsi is quoted as telling Mahan I got [racial epithet]s in the woodpile.

The discovery of Corsi's statement follows a nearly four-month investigation conducted by Deputy Police Chief Timothy Beebe, who located the call Monday, Sept. 14.

The Bethlehem Town Board went into a specially convened executive session for more than three hours on Friday to discuss the matter. After conferring with the Public Integrity Unit of the Albany County District Attorney's Office, Town Attorney James Potter said he believes Corsi's behavior does not rise to the level of a criminal action.

Speaking on behalf of the Town Board, Supervisor Jack Cunningham released the following statement:

"The statement made by Chief Corsi was insensitive, offensive and wholly inappropriate, even in a private conversation. I am disappointed that the chief would use this type of language under any circumstances."

In an interview, Cunningham said that despite the investigation's findings, he does not believe Corsi to be a bigot.

"In my experience in working with the chief he never indicated to me that he was racist or prejudiced in any way," Cunningham said.

In May, Officer Chris Hughes alleged that Corsi had used the racial slur during a phone conversation two years prior regarding a possible leak in the department. The town launched an investigation shortly thereafter.

"I think he singled-handedly has destroyed what was one of the best police departments in the capital district," Hughes said of Corsi on Friday.

Hughes has been out on sick leave from the department and was served two 30-day suspensions in May on two charges that he refutes and has filed grievances on. On Friday, Sept. 4, he was stripped of his badge and firearm.

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