Tim Matthews’ fall from grace, which began more than a year ago with allegations of payroll fraud, ended in county court Tuesday morning when the highly decorated 26-year veteran of the Kingston Police Department was, like so many of the people his work had helped to convict over the years, led away in handcuffs.
Matthews is heading for state prison after pleading guilty to two counts of felony grand larceny. Acting County Court Judge Andrew Ceresia, brought in from Rensselaer County to hear the case, sentenced Matthews to three to nine years in state prison.
With his voice breaking, the 50-year-old former head of the KPD’s Detective Division offered apologies to his family and his former colleagues. He also acknowledged that he deserved to be punished for his misdeeds.
“All the people I arrested, they did wrong,” said Matthews, standing before a courtroom full of tearful friends and family. “And they went to jail.”
Under the terms of a plea deal worked out with Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright and Senior Assistant District Attorney John Tobin, Matthews pleaded guilty to two of 13 counts contained in a June 2011 indictment. One count charges Matthews with stealing $122,000 from the City of Kingston between Jan. 1, 2001 and Feb. 3, 2011. For the second count, Matthews admitted that between March 1, 2007 and Dec. 31, 2010, he stole $80,000 for Ulster County in his role as commander of the Ulster Regional Gang Enforcement Narcotics Team. Matthews also admitted to bilking $10,000 out of Ulster Savings Bank in his role as security coordinator for a foreclosed property held by the bank — the former Friar Tuck resort in Catskill.
The plea deal requires Matthews to pay back all $212,000 he admitted taking. According to Matthews’ attorney, Michael Kavanagh, Matthews planned to pay $7,000 of the restitution order immediately. The remainder, Kavanagh said, would be paid out of Matthews’ $28,000-a-year pension. Kavanagh said the bulk of Matthews’ pension money, at least while he’s incarcerated, would go to pay child support and alimony to his ex-wife and six children. The remainder will go into a joint account held by the District Attorney’s Office. Kavanagh said that he expected the entire tab to be paid off within about 10 years.
More time than expected
As for the prison sentence, Matthews faced a maximum of five to 15 years in state prison on the grand larceny charges. Carnright said that his office had argued for the stiffer sentence imposed by Ceresia. Kavanagh argued for a sentence of six months in the Ulster County Jail followed by five years probation, something he acknowledged was “shooting for the moon.” Kavanagh noted that Matthews’ pre-sentencing report indicted that his client was deeply remorseful and that a non-prison sentence would not be objectionable under the circumstances. Kavanagh said that he and his client both expected prison time, but not the three to nine years handed down by Ceresia.
Slideshow image: Tim Matthews, shortly before his arrest last January. (Photo by Dan Barton)