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Homophobic Facebook comments land corrections officer in hot water

A Facebook exchange that included threats to shoot gays led to a Cheektowaga man resigning from his part-time job with the town police department and an investigation by his full-time employer, the state prison system.

Richard “Rick” Pilarski Jr. resigned Saturday as a cell block attendant for the Cheektowaga Police Department after he acknowledged the Facebook exchange with family and friends in which he threatened to shoot gays. The exchange was spurred by a news account about a proposed ballot initiative in California known as the “Sodomite Suppression Act,” which calls for imposing the death penalty on gay men and women who are sexually active.

“We brought him in today and he decided to resign from the position,” Assistant Police Chief James J. Speyer said Saturday. “He was remorseful and apologetic. It is one of those situations where he never intended it to be something that would come out.”

Speyer said the department received a complaint late last week and immediately suspended Pilarski without pay while beginning an investigation.

Pilarski, 33, also was placed on administrative leave Friday from his job as full-time state corrections officer at Attica Correctional Facility, as the state investigates the complaint.

“Wouldn’t this be the greatest thing in the world??? The guys around the corner would be the first 2 faggots in my sights. What you do in your house is one thing but when you fly flags of equal rights and the rainbow flag in a small quiet neighborhood is another,” Pilarski posted Monday on Facebook.

Pilarski acknowledged the Facebook posts were his but explained that he thought he was having a private conversation, Speyer said.

After admitting the Facebook exchanges, Pilarski resigned from his part-time job, Speyer said. He worked five shifts a month in the cell block.

“It should never have happened. We don’t condone it. The Cheektowaga Police Department stands for integrity, honor and respect,” Speyer said.

Officials at the state’s Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said they could not discuss the circumstances surrounding Pilarski’s placement on leave. Pilarski has worked for the state since November 2005 and earns $58,646 a year as a corrections officer.

A representative of the New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association said Friday the union had just learned about the incident and did not have enough information to comment.

“As we move forward, we are going to gather as many facts as we can regarding the incident,” said James Miller, a spokesman for the union.

The Buffalo News left three voice mail messages on Pilarski’s cellphone and one with a relative seeking comment. He did not return the calls. A woman identifying herself as his wife called The News and said, “We have no comment.”

The Cheektowaga Police Department received the complaint with the Facebook exchanges late last week, and a copy also was sent to The News. The complaint came from people who identified themselves as “Mr. and Mrs. Residents of Cheektowaga,” saying that if they listed their real names, they could face retribution.

Speyer said Pilarski explained that he was venting when he made the Facebook posts and that his comments were taken out of context.

In the Facebook exchange, Pilarski chided a relative for sticking up for gays, stating:

“... shut up you sound like a retard u wana love gays u love them I hate them. I’m not raising my kids to love them if you wana raise your to then go ahead.”

Pilarski disagreed with the same relative’s suggestion that he tell his child that the neighbors liked rainbows:

“And I’m not going to lie to ... about the flag by the time ... is 4 we will be playing in the front yard calling a faggot a faggot like it is.”

Later in the comments, a friend stated:

“I had such respect of you Rick you are a good officer but this is just complete ignorance. You tell your child it is a flag of a rainbow just like if they had a flag for Christmas or you tell them nothing at all. The wonderful thing about this country is freedom of speech and flying that flag is their form of speech. And I know you hold dear the Constitution. Or at least the 2nd Amendment.”

Pilarski later responded:

“Why are we talking bout the flags again the article is about gays being shot unfortunately my neighbors are homos we wouldn’t know if they didn’t hang flags...”

email: lmichel@buffnews.com