Richard E. Jetter’s confession to police is concise, neatly printed and clearly lays out that he, not vandals, dented his car.
But the admission does not mention the threatening note that was discovered on the Hamburg superintendent’s damaged car May 6 after a School Board meeting.
And Hamburg Village Police, who charged Jetter on Monday with a misdemeanor count of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree, are not addressing the note either.
“This is for reporting that the car was damaged,” Police Chief Dennis Gleason said of the charge. “The note has nothing to do with it at all.”
The note, folded and typed on white paper, was found under the windshield of Jetter’s car when the damage was reported. “Watch your back, you (expletive) sleezebag,” it read.
The Buffalo News obtained a copy of the deposition of fact from Hamburg Village Court, where Jetter is to answer charges of falsely reporting an incident next month.
Jetter’s confession to police is striking in that the superintendent also admits drinking in a Buffalo bar with a school administrator.
“On May 5, 2014, I visited a bar with another administrator and walked back to that administrator’s house so that I would become sober,” he wrote on a police form on Monday.
Jetter wrote in the statement that the range of time he was at the administrator’s house was from about 5:30 p.m. to about 12:30 a.m.
“Upon leaving I scraped up against a telephone pole near this administrator’s house in Buffalo,” he wrote in the statement Monday.
The pole scraping launched a lie that would be retold throughout Western New York: that an unknown vandal was responsible for hitting the superintendent’s car and leaving a threatening note.
Police were called to the school parking lot the night of May 6 when Jetter and other school officials were leaving a Hamburg Central School Board meeting. Jetter showed the note to those in the parking lot, remarking that the writer had misspelled “sleazebag.”
Jetter filed a report with police on a hit-and-run accident, and the report stated: “There are no witnesses to this incident.”
Jetter had the Nissan Maxima repaired and put in a claim for $2,891 plus $390 for a rental he drove while his car was being repaired, according to an insurance document.
Then Monday, as School Board members began investigating a claim that the car wasn’t damaged at the board meeting as Jetter had portrayed, Jetter went to the village police and admitted in the statement that he damaged his Nissan Maxima.
“A police report was filed that my car was vandalized at Union Pleasant Elementary School by me,” Jetter wrote in the statement before signing the statement. Jetter signed himself into BryLin Hospital later that day, a source in the district told The News.
Police served a summons for falsely reporting an incident on Jetter’s personal lawyer. Jetter is to appear in Village Court on Aug. 6 to answer the charge. Conviction on the Class A misdemeanor could result in a penalty of a maximum of one year in jail.
Jetter’s statement aligns in many ways with an account by a witness who saw the car hit the pole in Buffalo.
The witness met with an investigator hired by Margaret Murphy, the attorney for board member Catherine Schrauth Forcucci, who is in the middle of a hearing on official misconduct that could result in her removal from the board.
The witness also spoke with The Buffalo News and said that the damage occurred in South Buffalo on May 5, the day before the School Board meeting – and the day Jetter now admits it occurred.
The witness said a man driving what appeared to be the superintendent’s car accidentally struck a brown wooden utility pole.
The witness does not want to be identified because of the controversy surrounding the district.
But the witness said the damage occurred between 6 and 7 p.m. on May 5, not after midnight.
The witness also said that the man got out of the car, looked at the damage, and laughed, and the administrator who lives at the Buffalo address came out of the house, looked at the damage, and then returned to the house with Jetter.
Hamburg Village Police Chief Dennis Gleason said the investigation is continuing while police follow up on several items. Before Jetter made his statement to police, detectives were working on several leads, the chief said.