Marine veteran Chester Thompson.

Marine veteran Chester Thompson. (Police mug shot)

Sylvan Beach, NY (Tribune News Service) — A former Syracuse cop accused of trying to silence one of his victims in a sex-on-the-job lawsuit in 2019 is hoping to use his veteran status to avoid yet another criminal conviction.

Chester Thompson, now 54, is seeking to resolve his 2019 misdemeanor witness tampering and criminal contempt charges by undergoing a program designed for military veterans beset by combat scars. If Thompson — a retired Marine Corps pilot and 29-year member of the Air National Guard — admits guilt and complies with certain rehab (such as anger management, for example) his latest charges would likely be cleared under a veterans diversion program.

It’s unclear whether prosecutors will accept Thompson’s application for the program, which could also include probation and other supervision. Both sides asked a judge Thursday for more time to explore his candidacy for the program.

Thompson lost his job in 2015 and already has two misdemeanor official misconduct convictions after admitting to having sex with two Syracuse women while he was supposed to be working. Both women accused Thompson of using his authority to coerce them into sex. His transgressions have cost city taxpayers $900,000 in a civil settlement.

But Thompson got into more trouble in July 2019 when he’s accused of trying to talk one of his victims out of continuing her lawsuit. That woman, Maleatra Montanez, identified herself as one of Thompson’s victims by picketing Syracuse City Hall in December 2015.

During a chance meeting at the Sylvan Beach Amusement Park in the summer of 2019, Montanez accused Thompson of approaching her — against a court order prohibiting from contact with his victim.

While their children rode the antique teacup ride, Thompson is accused of complaining to Montanez about the lawsuit.

“Do you think it’s a coincidence I’m here?” he allegedly said. “I’ve seen you before. I’ve been close to you before. This whole thing has ruined my life.”

But Thompson wasn’t done, according to Montanez’s complaint. He then made his intentions perfectly clear: “You don’t have to go to court, you can tell your lawyer to stop all of this,” she alleged.

Two months later, the city settled with Thompson’s sex victims for $500,000. A judge later awarded $400,000 in attorney’s fees.

Thompson has long resisted pleading guilty to misdemeanors in the Sylvan Beach case, which started before the Covid-19 pandemic. It appeared headed toward trial with Thompson’s former lawyer, Michael Spano.

But Thursday, Thompson’s newest lawyer, Nicholas Passalacqua, told the judge that he was seeking to have Thompson put into the veteran’s diversion program. These programs, which came to the local court system more than a decade ago, are designed to help veterans adjust to society by helping them cope with their battle scars.

The model is simple: if the veteran takes advantage of the help, his or her crimes will be lowered or dismissed. If not, jail or prison could result.

Thompson’s military past makes him eligible for consideration for the program. But assistant Oneida County prosecutor Stephanie Singe said Thursday that no decision had been able about whether to allow Thompson to take advantage of it.

Any supervision or rehab would be determined after Thompson is accepted and pleads guilty to at least one of the charges.

Both sides asked the judge for another two months to continue trading information about Thompson’s case.

©2023 Advance Local Media LLC.


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