A former New York prison union boss pleaded guilty to tampering with documents Monday in order to skip watching detainees on suicide watch.
Rockland Corrections Officers Benevolent Association President John Cocuzza resigned from his position as part of a plea deal. His charges were reduced from 17 felonies to a single charge of disorderly conduct. Rockland Sheriff Louis Falco said he is satisfied with the reduced sentence because it means Cocuzza is no longer leading the union.
“We’re OK with the plea deal as long as he resigned,” Falco told The Journal News. “He did more than just sleep on duty. We can’t have officers falsifying official business records and logs.”
Falco was accused of playing political games when he charged the former union president Jan. 13. Cocuzza and the union were very much opposed to Falco and his reelection bid for sheriff last fall, reported Rockland County Times at the time. Republican Richard Vasquez was the favorite among union officials to win against Falco.
“Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco has stooped to an all time low,” Vasquez wrote Jan. 13 on Facebook. “It is not a coincidence that all the Corrections Officers that supported me are being forced to retire or face frivolous charges. The question everyone should ask is simple. If these acts are true, why were they not investigated previously?”
Union Vice President Richard McNichol also resigned from his position over similar charges. Falco noted his office offered to settle with Cocuzza outside of court before filing the charges. The original deal would have required him to pay back overtime and vacation pay plus two years probation. Cocuzza rejected the deal.
The union did not respond to a request for comment by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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