Sting Nets Fallsburg
By Matthew Youngfrau
SOUTH FALLSBURG August 29, 2000 Fallsburg Police Sergeant Mellisa Freestone became the first female police officer in Sullivan County to be promoted to sergeant in 1995. Now, five years later, she has become one of the few to be arrested.
On Tuesday, August 22, Freestone, 30, was charged with the Class A misdeameanors of Official Misconduct and Petty Larceny. The charges stem from a sting operation done jointly by the Sullivan County District Attorney's Office and Fallsburg Police Chief Brent Lawrence.
An incident involving money missing from evidence some eight months earlier first aroused Chief Lawrence's suspicions. An investigation was launched and the sting was set up, said Lawrence.
A purse with identification and $534 and some loose change was turned into Freestone. When Freestone put the contents of the purse into evidence, she inventoried only $8.94 in cash. The bills were marked and police did recover the remaining monies.
Freestone was suspended, without pay, pending a disciplinary hearing. Within thirty days (most likely by the end of September), a hearing date will be set. She could face a year in jail or up to a $1,000 fine.
The judge will also suggest other disciplinary action to be taken, said Lawrence. Once the ruling is made, the Fallsburg Town Board will take disciplinary action. Even though it is Freestone's first offense, she could face a written reprimand, up to a $100 fine, a suspension of up to sixty days, or she could be fired.