Of all the reversal-of-fortune stories in recent memory, few are as sad as the rise and fall of Peter Volkmann. The former Hudson police commissioner and Chatham village police chief was sentenced to complete 200 hours of community service with at least 100 hours of it to be completed by July 1, 2022, on charges of official misconduct and fourth-degree grand larceny.
Bad as it is, it could have been much worse. Volkmann pleaded guilty to stealing $74,222 in state and local retirement system pension funds and $18,607 from the village of Chatham by falsifying mileage vouchers and other reimbursements in February 2021.
The tragedy is what has been stained by his conviction. Volkmann did many good deeds for his community, especially the young people. He founded Chatham Cares 4U, a program that connects and transports substance abusers to treatment centers. As part of the program, he allowed young substance abusers to turn in their drugs in exchange for amnesty.
Chatham Cares 4U became an enormous success. Volkmann touted the program at speaking engagements and appeared in a documentary about the fight against the opioid epidemic.
To his credit, Volkmann on Monday owned his mistakes.
“I take the full responsibility,” he said. “I have devastated my family, have devastated myself and I have lost my house, I lost my business, and I lost my standing in the community. ... I’m looking to find footing and move forward with my life as a convicted felon.”
The last word, though, belonged to Columbia County Court Judge Richard Koweek as he passed sentence Monday.
“I think that you know right from wrong,” Koweek told Volkmann. “The idea of double-dipping is not correct. You’ve done good in your career. ... You also messed up royally here.”
The Volkmann case is a whipcrack reminder that no one is above the law and that even the most respected heroic figure can fall hard and fast from grace.