In early April Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen harshly criticized Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino for “inserting himself into an active police investigation being conducted by members of the Saratoga Springs Police Department” and then turning “to the media to publicize his premature and inaccurate take” on “an alleged incident involving several teenagers at a house party” that occurred in February.
Montagnino’s response was to tell the Times Union that “Heggen and Chief Shane Crooks who told the Times Union that the investigation was ongoing are ‘trying to rewrite history.’ “
Well, now it seems that Commissioner Montagnino was the one who was trying to “rewrite history.”
At the April 5 Saratoga Springs City Council meeting, Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino waved a piece of paper claiming the investigation that involved a fight at a teen party the weekend of February 27th had been closed on March 1, 2022. According to him, this proved that Heggen and Crooks were wrong to refer to the investigation as “ongoing” and therefore he had not “inserted himself into an active police investigation ” as Heggen had charged.
I FOILed for any police documents related to the case. I have received the forty-seven-page police file. It is heavily redacted (blacked out text) but it is still revealing.
Below is the document displayed by Montagnino at the City Council meeting. This city is required to enter information on local cases into a state database. This is a printout from that database. There is no question that it includes a data point that the case was closed on March 1. Reliable sources tell me that the date was a clerical error.
I am not including all the contents of the police file as I want to protect the names in it from social media abuse. The key thing that the file reveals, though, is that subsequent to March 1, 2022, at least four witnesses were interviewed by the police and signed affidavits. It is clear from the file that the investigation was ongoing and did not end on March 1 as claimed by Montagnino.
It begs credibility that Commissioner Montagnino was unaware of the ongoing investigation as, based on the documents, it involved multiple officers of varying ranks in his department.
I do not think it unfair to speculate that Commissioner Montagnino cynically cherry-picked this one document from all the records in the case file in order to mislead the public and try to clear his name from the serious charges made by Heggen.
If he did not know that his police officers were still investigating the incident, then it demonstrates how out-of-touch he is with the men and women who serve under him.