As the Geneva community, and other communities around the country, grapple with issues of police accountability, many people are questioning why police officers who are guilty of serious misconduct, and even convicted of crimes, are allowed to retire and keep their police pensions. Last July, two New York State lawmakers even introduced legislation to “amend the civil service law to terminate a law enforcement officer’s retirement benefits for malfeasance or serious misconduct. ”
Current public records show that there are 113 former City of Geneva employees who are receiving New York State pensions.
Many of those former city employees are retired Geneva Police officers, including the officer who killed Corey Jackson and another who was convicted and imprisoned for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.
Should police officers who fail to perform their duties, hurt community members, or do harm to the police department’s relationship with the people they serve be allowed to retire and collect pensions that are sometimes double or triple the median income of the average working class resident?
Frank Pane – $92,389 per year
During Pane’s 23 years as chief, the Geneva Police Department suffered through multiple high-profile public scandals related to serious misconduct within the department that he oversaw.
1991 – In August, a man who had been jailed for 44 days after being falsely accused by the GPD of selling crack cocaine filed a $2 million lawsuit against the City of Geneva. The man claimed that during the time he was jailed, he lost his job and his home was burglarized. He also claimed that he was later falsely accused by the GPD of stealing a wallet, which his lawyers characterized as possible harassment of the man by the GPD.
1995 – In July, The Geneva Police Department’s first (and to date, only) black police officer, Damon Propst, filed a complaint alleging unfair treatment due to racism within the department. Propst also claimed that he was being pressured to leave.
1995 – In November, Geneva Police Officer Mary M. Coons filed a notice of claim, accusing city officials of “failing to properly address her complaints about sexual harassment” against GPD Sgt. Jay Covert for two years.
2000 – In May, a 15-year veteran of the Geneva Police Department, Robert Hazell, was was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree sexual abuse for forcibly sexually assaulting a child on two occasions in 1997. In January 2001, Hazell took a plea deal and was sentenced in February to two years in prison.
2003 – In December, a 14-year-old Geneva girl was reported missing by her mother, but the GPD insisted the child’s case be characterized as a runaway, not a missing person. Later, the GPD turned down an offer of expert assistance from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. In March 2004, a passerby discovered the body of the girl, who had been murdered, in an alley just two doors down the street from her home, sparking accusations that the GPD had failed to conduct a serious investigation into the girl’s disappearance.
2007 – In January, a Shortsville man filed a lawsuit after having his wrist broken in 2005 by a Geneva Police officer later identified as Carmen “Scott” Reale. The case was settled in October 2015.
2010 – In November, GPD Sgt. Carmen “Scott” Reale was accused of attacking a young mother in downtown Geneva. Reale admitted to tackling her from behind and punching her, breaking her eye socket. A witness testified that when Reale tackled McCoy, the 2-year-old child McCoy was holding was thrown to the ground and then picked up by a passerby. Reale injured his hand punching McCoy and would end up on paid medical leave due to the injury. A civil suit against the city was settled in January 2016.
2011 – During a traffic stop on May 20, GPD Sgt. Carmen “Scott” Reale fired a shot through the rear window of the stopped vehicle, striking an unarmed black man, William “Corey” Jackson, in the head. Two days later, on May 22, Corey Jackson died at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. In early July, an Ontario County grand jury ruled that the use of deadly force was justified in the killing of Corey Jackson.
Frank Pane’s tenure as chief was marred with multiple lawsuits, charges of discrimination and harassment, and egregious misconduct by the officers under his watch.
But he still was paid $107,212 in 2011, his final year as chief of police, even though he left the job in July of that year.
The next year, Pane received his first pension payment of $84,981.
Frank Pane is currently receiving the largest annual state pension of all 113 former City of Geneva employees currently receiving state pensions. taking in a whopping $92,389 in 2020.
Todd Yancey – $52,943 per year
On September 13, 2017, the Geneva community was rocked by the revelation that racist images had been posted to social media by Geneva Police officer Todd Yancey.
An internal investigation was launched, and statements from city officials and community leaders strongly condemned the officer’s actions while pushing for a swift and fair resolution.
City officials stated that Yancey was on medical leave at the time the racist posts went viral, and assured residents that the officer would not be interacting with the public. One city councilor called for Yancey’s immediate dismissal.
One year and five months later, Yancey was still on the roster and payroll of the Geneva Police Department, and city officials had provided no updates on the investigation during that time.
In the spring of 2019, Yancey’s name was quietly removed from the GPD roster. When asked about Yancey’s sudden departure, city officials would only confirm that Yancey was no longer employed by the City of Geneva.
Public records would later reveal that Yancey officially retired on March 16, 2019.
On May 2 2019, the newly-retired Yancey updated the profile photo on his personal Facebook page, posting a cropped image of an early version of the Confederate Flag, known as “the first national flag of the Confederate States of America.”
In 2020, Yancey received his first annual pension of $52,943, the eighth-highest annual pension of all 113 former City of Geneva employees receiving state pensions.
Carmen Reale – $46,295 per year
In January 2007, a Shortsville man filed a lawsuit after having his wrist broken in 2005 by a Geneva Police officer later identified as Carmen “Scott” Reale. The case was settled in October 2015.
In November 2010, Sgt. Reale was accused of attacking a young mother in downtown Geneva. Reale admitted to tackling her from behind and punching her, breaking her eye socket. A witness testified that when Reale tackled McCoy, the 2-year-old child McCoy was holding was thrown to the ground and then picked up by a passerby. Reale injured his hand punching McCoy and would end up on paid medical leave due to the injury. A civil suit against the city was settled in January 2016.
During a traffic stop on May 20, 2011, Sgt. Reale fired a shot through the rear window of the stopped vehicle, striking an unarmed black man, William “Corey” Jackson, in the head. Two days later, on May 22, Corey Jackson died at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.
Reale claimed to have seen Jackson pointing an object that he thought was a gun toward the officers. Jackson was found with two cell phones and a knife, but no gun.
According to documents from Jackson’s lawyer related to the 2011 civil action:
“…No other officer saw (William Jackson) do anything threatening, and more than one officer said that he therefore initially thought William Jackson had committed suicide since they saw no reason for a police shooting. Officer Reale has a documented history of using excessive force involving minorities. This officer also had a specific history with William Jackson, having been involved with the earlier arrest of him.
One of the officers on the scene of this shooting reported that Reale had told him before the shooting that William Jackson was the closest person he ever came to shooting, allegedly because he would not take his hands out of his pockets. Officer Reale was not even supposed to be on duty the night of the shooting. His doctor had not released him to return to work yet following the injury to the tendons in his hand from when he punched a young mother in the face, severely fracturing her facial bones. The work shift that Reale was on had ended earlier that day, but he stayed out in plain clothes in an unmarked car to lay in wait for William Jackson with the other officers.”
In early July 2011, an Ontario County grand jury ruled that the use of deadly force was justified in the killing of Corey Jackson.
Reale kept his job with the Geneva Police Department for the next 2 1/2 years after killing Corey Jackson, spending much of that time on paid leave.
In 2015, Reale began receiving an annual pension of $46,079.
In 2020, Reale’s yearly pension amount increased to $46,475, the sixteenth-highest pension payment of all 113 former City of Geneva employees receiving state pensions.
Robert Hazell – $12,736 per year
In May 2000, Geneva Police officer Robert W. Hazell was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree sexual abuse for forcibly sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.
Hazell, who was a 15-year veteran of the force, had left the department just a few weeks earlier after a misconduct complaint was filed against him.
Former police officer is charged in sex case
GENEVA – A recently retired Geneva police officer has been arrested and accused of having sexual contact with an underage boy.
Robert Hazell, who retired from the police force April 7, was charged with two counts of first-degree sexual abuse, according to a news release from the Geneva Police Department. The release did not mention whether Hazell has appeared for an arraignment.
The crimes of which Hazell is accused are alleged to have occurred during spring 1997. State police and Geneva police investigated after the Ontario County District Attorney’s Office referred a complaint to Geneva police.
“I have no knowledge or has anyone alleged that these incidents occurred while Robert Hazell was on duty,” Geneva Police Chief Frank T. Pane wrote in a press release. “I am, however, most concerned that innocent victims and their families may have been affected by the alleged actions of a former police officer.”
Pane urged anyone with information to call police at (315)789-1111.
In January 2001, facing up to 14 years in prison if the case went to trial, Hazell made a deal, pleading guilty to two counts each of first-degree sexual abuse and third-degree sexual abuse for forcibly submitting a 15-year-old boy to sexual contact on two occasions in 1997.
He was sentenced to just two years in prison.
Other alleged victims came forward during the investigation, but their testimony was not allowed because the statute of limitations had elapsed.
In 2001, the statute of limitations required child sexual abuse victims in New York State to file criminal charges before they reached age 24.
However, the Child Victims Act (CVA), which was recently extended until August 14, 2021, currently allows child sexual abuse victims in New York State to file criminal charges before they reach age 55, meaning that Hazell’s victims could conceivably file charges today.
According to the District Attorney, Hazell’s victims “were initially reluctant to come forward because Hazell was a police officer.”
Ex-cop locked up for 2 years
GENEVA – A former city police officer will spend two years in prison for forcibly submitting a 15-year-old boy to sexual contact on two separate occasions in 1997.
Robert W. Hazell, 42, was sentenced Monday as a violent sexual offender as part of his January plea to two counts each of first-degree and third-degree sexual abuse. Had his case gone to trial, Hazell could have faced up to 14 years in prison.
District Attorney R. Michael Tantillo said yesterday that a number of other alleged victims came forward during the investigation, but their cases could not be pursued because the statute of limitations had expired.
Tantillo said victims were initially reluctant to come forward because Hazell was a police officer.
Hazell worked for the Geneva Police Department for 15 years. He resigned in April after a misconduct complaint was filed against him.
– THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Although Hazell was sentenced to two years, he was released about one year and eight months later on October 28, 2001. Hazell is currently on the state sex offender registry.
Although at least one news report stated that Hazell retired in 2000, public records indicate that Hazell’s official retirement date was September 1, 2013.
Each year since 2014, Hazell has received an annual pension of $12,736.