Disciplinary action was taken against an off-duty East Hampton Village Police officer who was caught trespassing in a Talmage Lane home with a 20-year-old traffic control officer on December 30, according to East Hampton Village Police Chief Jerry Larsen Jr.
While the TCO, Jennifer Rosa, was fired from her job that day, the 31-year-old patrolman, who police sources said was Mario Julio Galeano, was put on paid leave and relieved of his badge and firearm.
According to East Hampton Village Mayor Paul Rickenbach Jr., the incident was “unacceptable, inexcusable and, most importantly, unlawful.”
A police report from December 30 said that a man and a woman were inside the home when the homeowners came back with a guest from Georgia that morning. The TCO was also a part-time house cleaner who worked at the home, according to a January 17 press release from the police, but neither of them had permission to be there. Both were off duty, according to Chief Larsen.
When the homeowners arrived at the house that morning, they called police and said they wished to pursue charges, because no one should have been in the house. Reached for comment, the homeowners, Arthur Dunnam and Ramon Leon, declined to discuss the matter, except to say that the story had not been reported entirely correctly by some news outlets.
According to the chief, criminal charges have not yet been filed, but that does not mean the department won’t file misconduct or other charges in the case, which is still being investigated.
Neither he or the mayor would comment on what the officers were doing at the home, nor even confirm the officers’ identities because of contract requirements with the Police Benevolent Association. On the police report, the names of all involved had been redacted.
Mr. Galeano did not answer his phone on Monday, but responded to a text message saying that he cannot speak about the matter at this time.
An acquaintance of his said that he is having a very hard time with the allegations and publicity that has surrounded the incident.
Mr. Galeano was named the 2012 Police Officer of the Year at a Kiwanis awards ceremony for East End officers last year, honored for being one of two officers who used intuitive skills to crack sex crimes involving minors in 2012.
Early in 2012, he was on a routine patrol when he noticed suspicious activity involving a van parked at a rest area in Wainscott, which turned out to be a case of intercourse between a 33-year-old Springs man, Kleber Sigcha, and the minor. The case led to a conviction of second-degree rape.
Mr. Galeano is a nine-year employee of the East Hampton Village Police Department who moved from Colombia to Montauk when he was 12. He graduated from the Montauk School and East Hampton High School before going on to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, working summers as a Village Police TCO before joining the force full time in 2004.
At the time, he told The East Hampton Press that being a police officer is “a great career and a great place to work,” with “minor issues that we like to take care of on the spot” to stop larger crimes from occurring.
“It’s awesome,” he said about the award. “It’s an honor to be a police officer itself, and this honor is even better.”
When asked about losing his officer of the year, Chief Larsen said, “Losing any officer is a big loss for us since we live in such a small place. But I can’t comment on who the officer is.”
Ms. Rosa, a part-time TCO, was terminated by the East Hampton Village Board at their meeting on Friday, effective retroactively to December 30, according to Mr. Rickenbach,
“This incident violated public trust and the badge,” he said. “We take this allegation very seriously and will deal with it as quickly as we can. In the future, as it unfolds, it’s not something we’re not going to deal with. We have an obligation to the public.”