Putnam County settled case involving alleged mistreatment of suspect

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

Investigator A. Gerald Schramek, a high-ranking Putnam County Sheriff’s Department official connected to detective-work involving Philipstown, resigned effective Feb. 14, after allegations of mistreatment of a suspect and a $35,000 settlement of those claims, ratified by the Putnam County Legislature in December.

Capt. William McNamara of the Sheriff’s Department on Thursday morning (Feb. 12) confirmed Schramek’s plans to depart, after about 12 years of service. As the chief of the Bureau of Criminal Investigations, Schramek oversaw various local cases — such as the probe into a burglary at the Haldane Central School District and a violent attack on motorcycle club members just outside Cold Spring, both in 2013, and a Haldane trash fire in 2014.

Schramek (center) accepting an award in 2013 on behalf of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office for its support of the MTA Canine Unit program.
Schramek (center) accepting an award in 2013 on behalf of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office for its support of the MTA Canine Unit program.

However, Kenneth W. DeFreitas, facing robbery charges, accused two Sheriff’s Department investigators of beating him in Carmel on July 3, 2014, while in their custody — reportedly after DeFreitas tried to seize one investigator’s gun.

The two investigators were identified as Schramek and Patrick Castaldo, who retired from the Sheriff’s Department in latter 2014.

Kenneth DeFreitas
Kenneth DeFreitas

Michelle Carter, a public information officer on the staff of Putnam County District Attorney Adam Levy, said the DeFreitas incident remains under review by Levy’s office. “There is an investigation, but until it’s complete I can’t confirm any [details],” she told Philipstown.info/The Paper on Thursday.

McNamara observed that “there’s still an open administrative investigation” in the Sheriff’s Department as well.

At their Dec. 22 year-end meeting, members of the county legislature unanimously approved the $35,000 for DeFreitas after he initiated court action seeking a financial recovery, claiming he had been subject to “use of excessive force and a violation of his civil rights,” according to the legislature.

The county’s legal department and the New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal (NYMIR), an agency for local governments, recommended the settlement, which the legislature stated, in a resolution, “is in the public interest and has avoided the costs of further litigation.”

Photos from Putnam County Sheriff’s Department

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Armstrong was the founding news editor of The Current (then known as Philipstown.info) in 2010 and later a senior correspondent and contributing editor for the paper. She worked earlier in Washington as a White House correspondent and national affairs reporter and assistant news editor for daily international news services. Location: Cold Spring. Languages: English. Areas of expertise: Politics and government