WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman

Orchard Park Councilman sheds light on former police chief's retirement

Council Member Mike Sherry regrets having non-disclosure agreement

June 07, 2019 - 1:47 am
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WBEN) - Orchard Park Town Councilman Mike Sherry published a letter on Wednesday to give clarity over the controversy surrounding former Police Chief Mark Pacholec's retirement.

Pacholec retired last month and was given a $100,000 severance payment by the town board, which was not discovered until a FOIL request by news outlets. The chief's retirement was hastened when he was brought in for a disciplinary hearing.

In the seven page letter, Sherry said the town admits fault on the approval of the non-disclosure agreement and wrote "lesson learned". He told WBEN in an interview on Thursday afternoon that he was uncomfortable with the proposed non-disclosure agreement, though he followed the opinion of the town attorney. Sherry was told there were past instances where severance packages were confidential and it was a common practice.

"Had I done a little research myself and not went by what we were being told, I don't think it would have been difficult to ascertain that that shouldn't have been done," he told WBEN.

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"There was no intention or effort to deceive our community, and certainly nothing illegal occurred," he added.

Sherry came under fire publicly by Pacholec's wife, who told The Buffalo News that her husband was a scapegoat after Sherry negotiated a police contract which increased salaries for officers. The councilman responded to the accusations in the letter by saying the increased salaries were because Orchard Park Police was among the lowest in the area. 

"I and the town board continue to fully own and are proud of the contract negotiated with the members of the PBA," he said. "Collectively our police department is one of the most capable, dedicated, and productive in WNY as measured by a number of standards that were considered."

He also wrote that taxpayers were given notice that there were public forums related to the budget each fall. Sherry said even though he reduced the salary of the chief of police, the position's salary is still similar peer departments in Orchard Park.

Sherry also called the scapegoat narrative "nonsensical" and responded to two allegations from Bridget Pacholec. One of the accusations was that multiple phone calls were made to the Pacholec family while they were on vacation in December and that New York State Police were used in an "attempt to intimidate" the Pacholec family.

"WOW!" Sherry wrote. "...Town cell phone records indicates that no December calls were placed. As to the second charge, we sadly, but absolutely, must set the record straight. Independent of the town board, and pursuant to their duty and standard procedure, engagement of the NYS police were initiatived by the Orchard Park Police Department over concern for the well-being of town board members, as well as Mrs. Pacholec herself, given the nature of certain FB postings by her. A failure of our police department to take this action - and let me emphasize the point - a failure to act would have constituted a dereliction of their duty."

 

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