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Former cop Cliff Barber gets 1 1/3 to four years i

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BY: Oliver Mackson

Goshen, New York - ~ Former cop Cliff Barber gets 1 1/3 to four years in Wal-Mart theft ring ~ A judge on Thursday brushed aside prosecutors' descriptions of Clifford Barber III as the ringleader of a million-dollar theft crew, rejected their request for a prison sentence of 3 1/3 to 10 years and put Barber in state prison for 1 1/3 to four years.

The former Town of Montgomery cop and ex-Orange County sheriff's deputy pleaded guilty May 28 to felony charges of second-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree criminal conspiracy and filing a false personal income tax return.

On Thursday, Barber, 44, told Orange County Court Judge Robert Freehill: "I've let myself down, I've let my family and friends down and I've let my profession down."

Barber was among several people implicated in the thefts, which led to an investigation by the Orange County District Attorney's Office and the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

The probe found that Barber, who was a part-time cop in Montgomery, used diversionary tactics to steal everything from consumer electronics to toiletries from Wal-Mart stores in the towns of Newburgh and Wallkill between 2004 and 2008.

He was arrested in November 2008. Some of the thievery was captured on video, during surveillence operations conducted by investigators.

"There are some defendants who would not have been involved in this criminal activity, but for the fact that this defendant got them involved," prosecutor Chris Borek told Freehill.

But Freehill said he didn't find anything in the prosecution's paperwork that indicated Barber could be characterized as the ringleader.

About a half-dozen other men have pleaded guilty to various crimes charged after the investigation. They include Bryan Dunn of Maybrook, who loaded some stolen goods into the vehicle he was entitled to drive as an assistant volunteer fire chief in Maybrook, according to court records.

Others involved in the scam included another Town of Montgomery cop, Nick Valastro, and Kevin Burchell, a Montgomery resident who was a Tuxedo Park officer. All three cops have been fired.

"If there's anyone out there who thinks the sentence I'm about to impose is not a significant sentence," Freehill said of Barber's case, "they're wrong."

As part of his plea-bargain, Barber gave up his right to appeal the sentence and the conviction. As a felon, he'll be banned from any other police jobs.


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Posted on 10/8/2009 5:16 PM | CGB

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