BETHLEHEM An Albany County jury found a Bethlehem police officer guilty today of possessing a fake identification card in order to purchase a retired police officer badge.
Christopher Hughes, 40, of Feura Bush, was found guilty of criminal possession of a forged instrument, a felony. He is set to be sentenced on June 26, by which time Hughes' lawyer, Robert Molloy, said they would decide whether or not to appeal the decision. He could face up to seven years in prison.
"Our stance was and has been that officer Hughes did not have knowledge that that retirement card was fake or fraudulent and he did not use it to deceive anybody," said Molloy after the verdict was read.
Albany County Assistant District Attorney Linda Griggs maintained throughout the three-day trial Hughes "took matters into his own hands" when attempting to obtain the badge.
"Christopher Hughes was not entitled to a retired police badge because he was not retired," she said.
Hughes was arrested for the incident in October of 2011. Police said Hughes submitted a forged police retirement identification card to Galls, a Kentucky-based company that sells equipment, supplies and clothing for emergency responders. The company also processes badges and identifications. Hughes provided the card in order to have a police retirement badge processed.
Hughes is an officer in the Bethlehem Police Department but has been off of active duty on disability leave for years. He was taken off duty shortly after bringing forth accusations Chief Louis Corsi used a racial slur in a taped phone conversation and has been a sometimes vocal detractor of the town and department ever since. He filed a lawsuit against the town and Corsi in 2010 seeking to wipe disciplinary actions from his record.
The prosecution told the jury Hughes had wanted the badge because it was a "matter of pride" to obtain one after leaving active duty. Griggs also argued the badge could be used to identify oneself as a former police officer if pulled over. The defense said a retirement badge was simply a "novelty."