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LAWYER WILL ASK DISMISSAL OF CHARGES AGAINST OFFICER

A judge will be asked to dismiss misdemeanor charges against a decorated Buffalo police officer convicted of padding his court time vouchers.

Attorney David G. Jay said he will ask City Judge Margaret R. Anderson Monday to grant suspended Police Officer Timothy Hunter, 24, a dismissal "in the interest of justice" because such voucher disputes have routinely been handled by the department -- not in court.

Hunter, a four-year police veteran, is the only Buffalo-area law enforcement officer ever convicted of such a crime.

On unpaid administrative leave since February, Hunter faces a possible six-month jail term and dismissal from the police force. Free on his own recognizance, he is scheduled to be sentenced Monday afternoon.

Hunter is a "well-decorated and excellent officer" who has already been punished by being off work without pay since February, when the charges were filed, Jay said. He said such pay disputes have been handled routinely by Buffalo police "internal discipline" in the past.

Jay said he was unable to document similar cases.

In a case that sparked a heated exchange between Judge Anderson and District Attorney Kevin M. Dillon, Hunter was found guilty May 21 of 17 counts of petit larceny for stealing $444. The court found that Hunter illegally padded his court time on pay vouchers filed between September 1988 and April 1989.

During the eight-month period, Hunter was paid legitimately for more than $5,300 in court time, according to Police Department records. A day after his conviction, Hunter was one of 35 police officers honored by the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association for on-duty bravery.

Dillon said Friday he was unaware of Jay's bid to get the Hunter conviction dismissed and would not comment on the defense motion.

Dillon said his office prosecuted the case at the request of Buffalo police officials, who last year paid $1.2 million in court-time fees to officers.

"We have never received any other complaints about abuse of court time from any other police agency. But if there are other such cases, we would be glad to look at them and people should come forward if they have such information," Dillon said.

Although Judge Anderson found Hunter guilty, she criticized the district attorney's office for using "bazooka" tactics to obtain "a flea" of a conviction. Two prosecutors handled the six-day court trial, calling 30 witnesses and filing 240 documents.

"I'm not sure it was the right way to spend our taxpayers' money," Judge Anderson said.

Dillon responded May 22 by criticizing Judge Anderson for dismissing 83 abortion-protest cases in 1989 on technicalities, forcing his office to relodge the cases. He said he ordered his prosecutors to painstakingly detail Hunters crimes because of Judge Anderson's ruling in the abortion cases.

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