Suspended Geneva Police officer Jack Montesanto made his first court appearance today, December 2nd, since August after being arrested and charged in July. Montesanto, who was caught on video strangling a woman who was in custody for a noise complaint, was seen today in the courtroom laughing and joking with two fellow Geneva Police officers before being offered a plea deal by the Ontario County First Assistant District Attorney Jason McBride. If Montesanto accepts the offer, he will serve no jail time.
Laughter And Pats On The Back For Jack’s Court Appearance
Patrol Officer Michael Tapscott showed up for Montesanto’s 1:30pm appearance, and along with Court Liaison Officer Brian Choffin, began laughing and joking with their disgraced colleague, according to witnesses in the courtroom.
Choffin and Tapscott made jokes about Montesanto’s suit, and Tapscott was seen cheerfully patting Montesanto on the back in full view of the entire courtroom.
Geneva Believer readers may remember a story involving Choffin that was published back in 2017, in which he was alleged to have taunted a mother who had come to the police department to report that her children were being threatened.
That same year, a lawsuit was filed against the City of Geneva, the GPD and Choffin, in which Choffin was accused of failing to follow procedure, abusing a suspect who was in custody, and taunting the alleged victim’s mother with threatening and racist comments.
That lawsuit was discontinued in late 2018, shortly before Choffin was inexplicably removed from his longtime position as detective and reassigned to the newly-created position of Court Liaison Officer (or “bailiff”).
It’s not known if Choffin’s reassignment was related to the lawsuit.
The behavior of Tapscott and Choffin in the courtroom was in stark contrast to the gravely serious and professional demeanor of Geneva Police Chief Mike Passalacqua during the August press conference announcing Montesanto’s arrest.
At the August press conference, Passalacqua stated:
“My message: to have too much of a moral compass. I told the people, and the men, and women of this department they will be held accountable under my leadership.”
It’s unclear whether the behavior of Officers Tapscott and Choffin, who put on a very public display of support for Montesanto, an officer with a documented history of violence, in the courtroom, reflects Passalacqua’s “moral compass,” his “leadership” and his claim that his officers “be held accountable.”
There’s one thing that is clear: there is a culture within the Geneva Police Department that is nothing like the public image that Passalacqua portrays to the media.
A Geneva Police officer with a history of violence and abuse appeared in court to face charges of strangling a woman unconscious in the police department while on camera, and two officers in the courtroom treated him like a long-lost buddy, rather than treating him like a disgraced “bad apple” who brought shame to the department.
When the “good apples” treat the “bad apples” like their best friends, it’s hard to tell which ones are supposed to be the “bad apples.”
Montesanto Offered Probation And Fees For Class A Misdemeanor Guilty Plea
McBride described the recommendation of the DA’s office:
Montesanto can plead guilty to a class A misdemeanor charge of criminal obstruction of breathing, pay a $200 surcharge and a $50 DNA fee, and serve three years of probation. There would also be a permanent order for Montesanto to stay away from the victim.
And that’s it.
Jack Montesanto not only strangled a woman unconscious in the police station on camera (a felony), but if he accepts the plea deal, he’s going to walk away without spending a single minute in jail.
And his friends in the Geneva Police Department will probably celebrate with him.
Montesanto has not yet accepted the plea offer.
Montesanto Identified As Officer In 2017 Domestic Violence Incident
Geneva Believer can now confirm that the officer who was involved in a May 2017 domestic violence incident was Jack Montesanto.
GPD officers responded to Montesanto’s residence after a 911 call was placed. The victim and witnesses were interviewed, photos were taken, but no charges were filed.
More to come on this breaking story in the coming weeks.