Criminal Law Cairo police chief charged with evidence tampering

Published on March 26th, 2013 | by Daniel R. Perlman

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Cairo police chief charged with evidence tampering

The Cairo police chief arrested Wednesday for evidence tampering is accused of wiping fingerprints off a handgun and witness Christopher Sprague, court records show.

Christopher Sprague, 48, was charged with felony counts of tampering with public records and tampering with physical evidence, State Police said. He also was charged with misdemeanor counts of witness tampering and falsely reporting an incident. Sprague is accused of wiping clean a .380-caliber handgun and later influencing the testimony of a witness who may have illegally possessed the gun.

Sprague is a part-time chief of police for the Cairo Police Department and has been a full-time police officer with the Catskill police force for more than 10 years. He was suspended from his chief’s job and placed on administrative leave from his Catskill police job following his arrest.

A law enforcement source briefed on the investigation, but not authorized to comment publicly, said the charges stem from Sprague’s handling of a semiautomatic handgun that was recently turned over to Sprague by a person who possessed the gun illegally and believed it may have been part of a criminal investigation.

Sprague, who lives on Maple Avenue in Acra, could not be reached for comment after a message was left at his home Friday afternoon. He was released on his own recognizance following his arraignment before Durham Town Justice Raymond Kennedy, who presided because two justices from Cairo were not available.

Court records show Sprague is accused of trying to “conceal latent prints and other physical evidence” before he turned the handgun over to the State Police. In addition, Sprague is accused of telling State Police that the gun was left in a box at the Cairo Police Department and that he did not know who turned it in, according to the law enforcement source.

The felony charge of first-degree tampering with public records relates to allegations that Sprague directed a Cairo police officer to falsify a state report indicating the gun had been anonymously surrendered, the source said.

Sprague also is charged with misdemeanor counts of falsely reporting an incident and tampering with a witness – for allegedly instructing the man who turned in the gun to lie about the incident.

It’s unclear what relationship, if any, Sprague may have with the man who turned in the handgun. The law enforcement source said State Police believe the gun may be connected to an open criminal investigation.

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Source: timesunion.com “Cairo police chief charged with evidence tampering,” March 23, 2013.

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