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      Auburn officer accused of abusing police powers

      Brian Hutchings leaves court Thursday morning. / photo: Craig McDowell

      An Auburn cop was arrested Wednesday after police say he abused his powers as a police officer to settle a personal dispute.

      Officer Brian K. Hutchings of the Auburn Police Department was in court Thursday morning, facing 14 charges after allegedly using his position as a police officer to ticket the trucks of a contractor with whom he was having a dispute over work on his house. Sources tell CNY Central that Hutchings would allegedly stop the trucks at every opportunity and threaten to issue traffic tickets in an attempt to shake down the contractor for payment of his bill.

      Cayuga County District Attorney Jon Buddleman and Auburn Police Chief Gary Giannotta held a news conference Thursday afternoon to discuss the charges against Hutchings. They said that the investigation began two years ago when Hutchings was accused of using his police baton and pepper spray to knock an one of the contractor's drivers to the ground and hold him there. When asked why the indictment took so long, Budelmann said, "it took a considerable amount of time. As you can imagine not everyone is excited about cooperating against a police officer who's still on the job."

      Police Chief Giannotta told reporters he did not consider taking Hutchings off patrol duties even though Hutchings was under suspicion for two years. "There is the personnel aspect of what we do is extremely complicated just let it be said that my meeting with the District Attorney initiated this investigation." Giannotta said.

      Buddleman and Giannotta say the traffic stops were part of a plan by Hutchings to harass a company with which he was having a billing dispute. Neither official would confirm the name of the company allegedly victimized by Hutchings.

      When asked why the investigation took two years, Buddleman implied there were problems with getting cooperation from witnesses.

      Buddleman also confirmed his office was investigating the disappearance of money from the Auburn Police Benevolent Association. He would not confirm if that investigation was connected with the Hutchings case. However Chief Giannotta says Hutchings is a former Auburn PBA treasurer.

      Hutchings was arraigned Thursday morning in Cayuga County Court before Judge Thomas Leone. He has been indicted by a Cayuga County Grand Jury on the following charges:

      - Bribe receiving, 3rd degree- Receiving reward for official misconduct: 2nd degree- Coercion: 2nd degree (3 counts)- Official misconduct- Falsifying business records: 1st degree- Offering false instruments for filing: 1st degree- Offering false instrument for filing: 2nd degree- False reporting of an incident: 3rd degree- Making a punishable false written statement- Obstructing governmental administration: 2nd degree- Harassment: 2nd degree- Making an apparently sworn false statement: 1st degree

      Hutchings declined to comment on the charges to CNY Central reporter Jim Kenyon as he left the courthouse. He was released on his own recognizance, and has been suspended without pay by the Auburn Police Department.