Parts of testimonies of numerous witnesses pertain to the multi-month internal investigation into the existence of a tape containing Corsi’s racial slur. Sussman questioned several people about whether the chief had sought to have it erased.
When the tape was found in 2009, The Spotlight asked town officials if Corsi had attempted to erase the tape, an allegation Hughes had brought forward. Officials said the investigation found Corsi inquired into whether it was technically possible to have the tape erased, but since he did not seek to tamper with it, no crime or misconduct had been committed.
“I don’t believe he requested to have the tape erased. He may have inquired whether it was possible to have the tape erased,” Town Attorney James Potter told The Spotlight in September 2009.
This has become the official account, and a number of people deposed in February supported it, including Corsi himself.
Cunningham’s deposition tells a different story, however. Like many others, he was questioned about the interaction between Corsi and a department dispatcher immediately after the call.
“I believe, through Potter, I became aware that she was asked to erase the tape,” Cunningham said, according to a court reporter’s transcript. “The entire matter was difficult for the Town Board to deal with, because we had been advised by (Town Attorney) Mike Smith at the very onset of this that the statute of limitations for any disciplinary action against the chief had passed, and that if the board took any action against the chief, that we would likely be sued, and that we would likely lose our case, because the town had no standing to take any actions against the chief.”
Cunningham soon thereafter stated he did not recall whether there had been any discussion about sanctioning Corsi for trying to have the tape erased. The 2009 Town Board met in a specially convened executive session lasting three hours after the tape was discovered. It was in this meeting the suspension was handed down.