ITHACA, N.Y. — An investigator with the Ithaca Police Department is under investigation after allegations have surfaced that he might have searched a residence without securing a warrant first.
On Oct. 15, a trial was set to begin on a felony-level drug charge in Tompkins County Court. However, the Tompkins County District Attorney’s office dismissed the indictment after discovering Investigator Kyle Paolangeli with the Ithaca Police Department allegedly might have searched an apartment before having a warrant, despite stating otherwise. The man’s indictment was dismissed, so there is no longer a record available of the case, but Syracuse-based attorney Jeff DeRoberts, who represented the man, explained what was discovered before the trial.
DeRoberts said Paolangeli got a search warrant for his client’s apartment and police searched the residence. Allegedly, in the first apartment there was a key ring with multiple keys and one of the keys went to a second apartment, owned by another person. Investigator Paolangeli allegedly searched the second apartment, where drugs were found, prior to getting another search warrant.
The issue didn’t come to light until about a week before the trial when DeRoberts reviewed a stenographer’s transcript of an oral statement the investigator had with an Ithaca City Court judge when applying for a second search warrant. The transcript allegedly contradicted testimony Paolangeli made in a preliminary hearing and to a grand jury.
DeRoberts said entering a person’s residence without a warrant is extremely serious and “goes right at the credibility of our criminal justice system.”
“Would you like to have a police officer enter your residence without a warrant or following the rules of the law in this country?” DeRoberts said.
Investigator Paolangeli often handles drug-related cases at the Ithaca Police Department. At the Citizens Police Academy in May, Paolangeli told participants he works to track down major drug dealers in the Ithaca area. He has been a part of major operations such as “Operation Un-Wise,” which led to 31 alleged drug dealers being charged.
The man whose charge was dismissed had been charged in connection with the discovery of 4.5 ounces of crack cocaine, $12,000 in cash and packaging materials in a residence after a SWAT Team raid, police reported in a news release in January.
Tompkins County District Attorney Matthew Van Houten said an investigation is ongoing but he has no comment at this time.
Ithaca Police Chief Pete Tyler said he had no comment while an investigation is ongoing. Tyler confirmed Paolangeli is currently employed by the IPD.