Before his arrest last week for strangling a woman at the police department, Geneva Police Officer Jack Montesanto called and sent messages to Geneva Believer in 2018 to explain why he had been demoted from sergeant to the lowest-level patrol officer on the roster, but sources say the cop didn’t tell Geneva Believer the whole truth.
On July 31 2019, the Geneva Police Department announced the arrest of Patrol Officer Jack Montesanto, who is accused of choking a woman in the booking area of the Public Safety Building. Police say the incident was caught on body camera video.
The woman, who had been arrested for disorderly conduct and a noise ordinance violation in the early morning hours of July 23 2019, told News10NBC that Montesanto slammed her head against a mailbox and that “her dress fell open and she was not given an opportunity to fix it” before she was arrested and later strangled by the officer.
Montesanto was arrested and charged Wednesday morning with criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation, a class A misdemeanor, and released from custody that evening.
During the July 31 press conference, Chief Mike Passalacqua reported that the victim didn’t request medical assistance and was “OK” after the incident.
Three days later, it was revealed that Montesanto’s victim actually lost consciousness when strangled by the officer, yet Montesanto avoided what likely should have been a felony charge.
Montesanto’s Demotion In His Own Words
Back in August of 2018, Geneva Believer reported that Montesanto had been demoted from the rank of Sergeant to Patrol Officer, and reinstated to work on the overnight road patrol shift. It was later confirmed that Montesanto kept his full $93,000 annual salary when he was reinstated.
Montesanto contacted Geneva Believer shortly after the article‘s publication to give his side of the story related to his demotion.
Now that Montesanto stands accused of on-duty violence against a female resident of the city, it’s time for a closer look at Montesanto’s suspension and demotion, and what’s next for the disgraced cop.
Montesanto Suspended With Pay For Over A Year – Sources Reveal More Details
In August of 2018, after receiving a tip, Geneva Believer broke the news that nine-year veteran Geneva Police Sergeant Jack Montesanto had been demoted to Patrol Officer without any public announcement from the department.
However, the article did not include additional, key details reported at the time by reliable sources close to the situation.
Those reported details were withheld from the article due to fears of possible retribution. An officer who would reportedly try to physically attack the Chief of Police and put his 14-year law enforcement career at risk could conceivably try to retaliate against anyone, including journalists, who publicized these reported details about the incident.
Those additional details will be published now, as well as messages and a voicemail sent by Montesanto to Geneva Believer in response to the demotion story.
Sources Say Montesanto Tried To Fight Chief Trickler In Command Staff Meeting
According to sources, Montesanto was suspended with pay after an incident on February 2 2017, when he threatened to fight former Chief Jeff Trickler during a Command Staff Meeting at the Public Safety Building. Montesanto was reportedly restrained by other sergeants from getting to Trickler, escorted out of the building and sent home. Sources report that officers who witnessed the incident were ordered not to discuss the matter with anyone, and details of the incident were only made available to command staff and some city officials.
Montesanto remained on suspension for more than a year and four months, reportedly because Trickler simply didn’t want to deal with the issue. Shortly before he retired in July 2018, Trickler (along with the City and the police union) reportedly worked out a last-minute deal to reinstate Montesanto. Sources reported that in order to avoid arbitration that likely would have ended his career, Montesanto agreed to a deal that allowed him to be demoted but keep his job.
The deal was reportedly timed so that Trickler would not have to deal with Montesanto face-to-face.
So Jeff left, and Jack came back.
Shortly after his reinstatement, Montesanto reportedly filed a motion with the police officers union to get his seniority back.
It’s reported that the officers in the union unaminously voted “no” to reinstate Montesanto’s seniority.
The reported union vote demonstrated that the Geneva patrol officers did not support the city’s decision to keep Montesanto as an active patrol officer. Those officers were reportedly very unhappy that they weren’t kept in the loop when it came to agreements between the city, command staff and Montesanto, and had no say in the matter. The patrol officers allegedly did not want him “on the road” and dealing with the public.
Montesanto Tells His Version Of The Demotion Story
On August 27 2018 at 9:09am, the morning after the demotion story was published, Patrol Officer Montesanto contacted Geneva Believer and left the following voicemail.
Hi Jim, Jack Montesanto.
Just giving you a call in regards to your uh…(long pause)…I guess…”article” we’ll call it, for lack of a better term.
If you have any questions about why I was demoted, you’re more than welcome to give me a call at area code XXX-XXX-XXXX.
I do currently work night shift, as you pointed out, because of my loss of seniority.
I’m on my way to a funeral right now, so today’s probably not a great day to talk, but I will quickly say that my demotion had nothing to do with any sort of interaction with the public and it was a, solely an internal matter between me and former Chief Trickler. And I’ll leave it at that for now.
If you have any other questions you have my number. Thank you.
While the voicemail did not fully confirm the report of Montesanto attacking Trickler during a Command Staff meeting, it seemed to confirm that the suspension was due to an issue between Montesanto and Trickler.
After hearing the voicemail, Geneva Believer consulted with legal and policing experts, journalists, and others to consider the possible outcomes of publishing the voicemail.
- From: “Jack Montesanto” <email@example.com>
- To: jim <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Aug 28, 2018 4:09:49 AMComment: Not sure if you got my message but I’m more than happy to talk about my demotion. I’m not sure of what will happen to me but I think the public needs to know. As far as the allegation that my voluntary demotion had anything to do with a member of the community, that is false. It stemmed from an argument during a command staff meeting on Feb. 2, 2017. This was between Jeff Trickler and myself. It had nothing to do with my personal life either. Let’s talk soon and I’ll set the record straight. I’m waiting to hear back from the attorney I retained for my civil service hearing to see what I can share.
I’m trying to line up a conversation with my attorney to get clearance to talk openly about my demotion. I’ve caused enough trouble for myself by standing up for what is right.
I spoke with my attorney yesterday and our major concern is the repercussions with the City and the Department toward me. I’ve already been bullied into taking a demotion I didn’t agree with and can’t afford further action against me. Let me have a few days to think about my future. I’ll get back to you next week.
Montesanto then ceased all contact with Geneva Believer, apparently on the advice of his attorney.
The responses from Montesanto received by Geneva Believer were completely unexpected, considering that he had likely signed an agreement when he was reinstated that required him to keep all details of the agreement confidential.
If Montesanto’s agreement with the City, the GPD and the union included a confidentiality clause, Montesanto most likely violated that agreement when he contacted Geneva Believer and revealed details about the incident that led to his suspension.
Questions About Impulse Control
Montesanto allegedly responded impulsively during an argument with the Chief of Police, risking his 14-year career.
Montesanto responded impulsively to an article by Geneva Believer, risking a violation of the agreement he made to keep his job with the GPD.
Today, Montesanto stands accused of choking a woman who was in custody, inside the police department, with the awareness that body-worn cameras were recording, after allegedly slamming the woman’s head into a mailbox.
Because he’s a police officer, Montesanto’s apparent lack of impulse control creates a terrifying and potentially deadly situation for members of the public who may come into contact with him.
Montesanto And The Geneva Policing Culture
Four days after the start of the internal investigation into the choking incident, and two days before he was arrested and charged, Montesanto left the following post on the business and employment-related social media site LinkedIn:
Rather than being concerned about a potential career-ending arrest for violently strangling a female city resident who was in custody, Montesanto was looking for his next job.
With an internal investigation underway, why was Montesanto so confident to assume that he would not face serious charges, and would be able simply move on to another law enforcement job?
Montesanto’s confidence may have come from knowing he will be able to avoid the appropriate consequences, a confidence that many law enforcement officers currently enjoy.
At the time of Montesanto’s 2017 “argument” with Trickler that earned him a suspension, Lieutenant Mike Passalacqua (along with Lt. Matt Valenti) served with the internal affairs division of the GPD, and were responsible for investigating incidents and claims of misconduct involving Geneva Police officers.
In a recent Finger Lakes Times interview, Passalacqua may have offered a possible clue as to why Montesanto appears to be able to avoid any meaningful accountability:
“(Montesanto) isn’t someone who we took in as a lateral transfer, knew nothing about and had no ties to the area. I knew him going back to high school, about 20 to 25 years. Knowing a person that well makes it that much worse.”
Chief Passalacqua knew that Montesanto choked a female city resident unconscious while she was in custody, yet he failed to mention it during the press conference, and then quietly watched while the District Attorney failed to charge Montesanto with a felony.
Chief Passalacqua knew that Montesanto reportedly tried to engage in a fistfight with the former chief, which should have been career suicide, but still “called Montesanto a “good cop” before the alleged (choking) incident.
If the culture of policing in Geneva is to make excuses for bad cops, to overlook or cover up misconduct, and to endanger our community by putting those cops in contact with the general public, then we need to change that culture.
And the only way we can change that culture by implementing citizen oversight of the police department, and by giving that oversight board investigative and disciplinary powers.
EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have information related to any incidents of misconduct by Jack Montesanto during his time as a Geneva Police officer, please contact Geneva Believer. Your identity and any information you offer will remain confidential.