The Port Chester police station at 350 North Main St. is the scene of the missing drugs and money.
The Port Chester police station at 350 North Main St. is the scene of the missing drugs and money.
Multiple sources have confirmed that $27,000 and a large stash of drugs, evidence from a joint case worked with the Westchester County Police, went missing from Port Chester police custody in July. The police chief and a majority of the village board refuse to comment on the situation.

"I will reserve my comments, but I will tell you I'm not happy about it," said Port Chester Trustee Luis Marino. "It's not good for the police department or for us."

Sources close to the situation said the case was a large drug bust made in conjunction with the Westchester County Police Narcotics Unit. The last two major cases the village police worked with them were in January when three dealers were arrested after a 6-month investigation and in December when 17 dealers were rounded up after an 18-month undercover sting.

"My understanding was $27,000 worth of cash, supposedly some drugs, were stolen," said Trustee Sam Terenzi.

Reportedly the theft involved a kilo of cocaine, and possibly a large gun was also taken, according to a reliable source.

Terenzi was uncertain who has keys to the evidence lockup and if there were cameras in that area, but other sources said there were no cameras. Previously evidence was stored across the street at Westy's, a more secure location, Terenzi added. Someone made the decision to relocate it in order to save $600 a month.

Two requests for records by Westmore News regarding thefts at the police station and missing evidence in the past five months have gone unanswered. According to the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), the village has five business days to grant or deny the request or ask for more time. The two requests were faxed to the village clerk, Janusz Richards, on Monday, Aug. 19, who forwarded them to the Police Department. As of deadline Wednesday, Westmore News was still waiting.

'No comment'

When asked about the missing evidence, Port Chester Police Chief Joseph Krzeminski refused to broach the subject.

"I won't comment on an ongoing investigation," he said immediately before a closed-door meeting with the mayor and trustees Wednesday evening. When asked at the beginning of the month, the chief refused to confirm or deny whether there was an internal investigation occurring at all.

Following the meeting on Aug. 28, the mayor and trustees made similar remarks.

"The investigation is ongoing and I can't make any statement more than that," Mayor Neil Pagano said.

Trustee Greg Adams' version was "I have no comment as this is an ongoing investigation," while Trustee Dan Brakewood opted for "I don't really have any comment on it."

Marino did say there were no new details provided at the executive session.

"They didn't give any information to us because it's still up in the air," he said, "no particulars because it's an ongoing investigation."

Similarly, Trustee Gene Ceccarelli did not want to speak about the internal investigation.

"I'm not saying if it is the way to go or not the way to go. I'm just saying that there is an investigation going on and there's nothing else that can be said at this point," he said. "Basically, it is what it is."

Trustee Joe Kenner could not be reached for comment.

While the case is being investigated internally, there were conversations immediately following the discovery of the missing evidence about seeking outside assistance.

Krzeminski "reached out to the state and they didn't want any part of it," Terenzi said.

The county, likewise, is not taking over the investigation.

"This is a Port Chester police investigation," said Lucian Chalfen, spokesman for the Westchester County District Attorney's Office. "We're aware, obviously, of these allegations and so forth. If they need anything as it relates to legal advice or grand jury subpoenas, we'll accommodate that, but they're investigating it."

Initially, Terenzi agreed to an internal investigation to "give the police department a little leeway to try to clean up their situation," but after weeks with no results, he has begun to reconsider outside help.

"We're not going to wait much longer. If we have to get the FBI or an independent investigation - I don't care," Terenzi said Tuesday. "The clock is starting to tick. To me it's indicative of what's been going on the last 15 years."

Since Krzeminski became the chief of police, the department has regressed, Terenzi said. "I don't think there is any leadership there at all."

Depending on the outcome of this case, he might reconsider the merits of appointing a police commissioner to get the department going in the right direction. The idea of a police commissioner came up during Mayor Christine Korff's administration in the 1990s. Currently, the trustees and mayor act as the board of police commissioners.

Regardless of whether the village ultimately decides to go that route or not, first they need to get to the bottom of the missing evidence.

"It's not going to die, I can tell you that much," Terenzi said.