Greece, N.Y. --- On November 2, 2011, after 16 months in state prison, Merritt Rahn appeared before the parole board and made his case for release. The parole board denied him an early freedom and his next scheduled parole hearing is in November 2012.
Rahn, 62, apologized for his actions and for the first time he appeared to shoulder the responsibility for his crimes.
“There's no question that I failed my community. That’s a given. I suffer for it every day. I think about it every day,” Rahn told the parole board commissioners according to a 25-page transcript obtained by 13WHAM News. “I wish I could go back and change it. I can’t. I’m sincerely truly, truly sorry for what happened, and I wouldn’t --- yes, I did fail the community. I failed my department. I brought embarrassment upon everybody.”
In more detailed questioning Rahn admitted that he did interfere in the crash investigation involving former Greece Police Sergeant Nicholas Joseph. Joseph is also now in state prison after he was convicted of perjury, assault, vehicular assault, leaving the scene of an accident, and other crimes.
"I held up doing the investigation and part of the reason was, you know, to preserve the integrity of the police department because the embarrassment it would have brought the whole department and I assume to protect an officer."
A parole commissioner later pointed out that Rahn did end up “destroying the integrity of the police department” and in response Rahn agreed.
“I did destroy it because of my actions,” Rahn said.
Rahn’s prison sentence ranges from a year and eight months to five years. He was convicted of Offering a False Instrument for Filing 1st degree, Hindering Prosecution 2nd Degree, Tampering with Public Records 1st Degree, and falsifying business records 1st Degree.
Some of those charges relate to Rahn’s ordering a sergeant to create a false, and positive, background check report for the hiring of Gary Pignato. Pignato was hired despite prior incidents in other departments and Rahn maintained to the parole board, as he did in court, that Greece Town Supervisor John Auberger ordered him to hire Pignato.
Pignato is also in state prison serving a two to six year sentence for Bribery after he used his position as a police officer to exploit sex from women.
“Stupid, disregard for my job duties,” Rahn said of his involvement in Pignato’s hiring.
"I was wrong. I was angry. I didn’t at the time --- at the time even think about the illegality of it. Looking back now, it was entirely wrong. It was illegal."
Rahn went on to indicate that he was angry at the town supervisor for, according to Rahn, ordering him to hire Pignato.
“…I felt that the supervisor already knew about his background, and out of anger I did that, it was wrong.”
When a parole commissioner asked Rahn why he didn’t plead guilty and admit his crimes before trial, he replied that he was acting on the advice of his lawyer, John Parrinello.
“As far as I know, they didn’t offer me a plea, had they offered me a plea, I would have pled….I was not offered a plea, and I had to listen to what my attorney said. Now it may sound like it’s a cop-out or an excuse, but it’s not.”
Rahn remains in protective custody at the Hudson Correctional Facility where he is assigned to work as a recreational aide and ground maintenance.
In the parole board’s ruling it was determined that “there is a reasonable probability that you (Rahn) would not live at liberty without violating the law, and your release at this time would be incompatible with the welfare of the community.”