Calling Middletown Mayor Sebastian Giulano’s press conference today “politically motivated,” former Acting Chief of Police Patrick McMahon fired back at the comments made to reporters this afternoon at City Hall.
Dressed in jeans and a black jacket, McMahon told reporters he did drink while in uniform. "Yes and I admitted what I did was wrong and was willing this morning to go in and take my punishment. [The mayor] felt he needed to take this course of action."
McMahon explained his transgression by admitting "we are fallable human beings but it is not against the rules of the department" to drink while in uniform. "It's not illegal."
“I take full responsibility for my actions. At no time did I deceive him and his use of the phrase ‘strikes to his credibility’ is suspect considering my tenure to this point.”
However, McMahon alluded to other police department members being present during the time when he was drinking alcohol while in uniform. "They were also armed and certainly I will discuss that during the investigation. I was never alone at these events."
Giuliano announced Monday he had demoted McMahon to deputy chief, placed him on paid, 30-day administrative leave and removed his appointment to chief, which would pull the referendum question from the Nov. 8 ballot. McMahon had led the police department for 27 months.
The action is a result of conflicting answers Giuliano says McMahon gave him Tuesday regarding allegations McMahon was drinking while in uniform.
Despite his admission, McMahon said, "I am not going to stand by for anyone — union, politician, anyone — that’s going to besmirch my good name."
McMahon expressed anger and disappointment, saying this morning Giuliano said he would not call a press conference. “He gave me his word that he would not be holding a press conference on this matter today, yet he did."
McMahon said Giuliano told him this morning, ‘Chief, I’m not holding a press conference, I’m going to issue a press release.’"
"If you’re looking at credibility, I guess, mayor, you should look in the mirror. I did not deny it. I told him what I did, when I did it, who I did it with and what happened."
“I believe the actions by the mayor today are due in part to misguided and politically motivated advice he is receiving. The mayor references his short time at West Point in mentioning the Code of Honor. There is nothing honorable in what happened today."
McMahon said he took issue with Giuliano's remarks questioning his ability to lead the police department, even calling the mayor's statements libelous.
"I certainly look forward to participating in that investigation and clearing my name. If he’s talking about my credibility, that is libelous. Certainly if he’s alleging that I’m not credible to lead a department, absolutely."
McMahon had nothing but praise for his replacement, saying, “one of the signs of a successful leader is to train and mentor” those directly below him in rank.
“I certainly agree with the mayor that Acting Chief McKenna is capable of leading the department,” McMahon said. “He and I worked very closely during my time at the FBI Academy. I wish him well with this new challenge.”
The mayor also said it’s not clear if the voter initiative question should McMahon be appointed chief of police can be removed from the November ballot. A legal opinion obtained by the city attorney has determined the mayor’s removal of his support for McMahon renders the initiative invalid.
Edward McKeon, who gathered enough signatures — 2,170 — to force the police chief question to referendum on the November ballot, says this most recent turn of events is troubling.
"I’m obviously very disappointed after all the hard work put in. I’m disappointed for all the folks I convinced as well," McKeon said. "The mayor did what he had to do. I like Pat, I think he’s a good guy. He did a lot for my neighborhood."
McKeon was careful not to jump to conclusions.
"If the allegations prove to be true, I’m surprised he was not more careful in how he acted."
Town Clerk Sandra Russo-Driska says 16,000 polling ballots were printed last Friday. She will "individually black out every single [referendum] question so the question will not be on the ballot."
Still, McMahon urged citizens to vote for him on the Nov. 8 ballot.
“I certainly encourage Middletown residents to vote ‘yes’ if they want a leader who is not beholden to any person or party.”
Further, McMahon cited the mayor's own words as to whether the question can be removed from the ballot.
"I don’t know if he can legally remove that," McMahon said. "The citizens put it on [the ballot], he didn’t. The mayor has said repeatedly when challenged by the Democrats that it can’t come off, that the citizens decide."
McMahon said he had no plans to resign and looks forward to returning to the department as deputy chief.
“I look forward to an independent, objective and timely investigation to clear my name and to hold those accountable who have made knowingly false accusations.”