GENEVA — A city police officer accused of choking a woman last month is now on unpaid leave.

Geneva Police Chief Mike Passalacqua confirmed Wednesday that Jack Montesanto, the subject of disciplinary charges, has been placed on unpaid pre-hearing suspension pursuant to Section 75 of state Civil Service Law, which pertains to public employees.

“Beyond that, I cannot discuss this any further,” Passalacqua said in an email to the Times.

Montesanto, 40, was arrested July 31 following an investigation by the Ontario County sheriff’s office into an incident that allegedly occurred during the early-morning hours of July 23, when Montesanto and at least one other GPD officer responded to a Main Street apartment building for a noise complaint.

The woman, who was charged with a noise violation and disorderly conduct, was taken to the Public Safety Building for booking. Montesanto is accused of choking the woman while she was being booked, causing her to lose consciousness temporarily.

Passalacqua learned of the alleged incident two days later and suspended Montesanto with pay following an internal investigation. He asked the sheriff’s office to conduct the criminal investigation, resulting in Montesanto being charged with criminal obstruction of breathing.

Montesanto was placed on unpaid leave last week. He has been free on his own recognizance since he was charged.

Montesanto is scheduled to appear in Geneva City Court Aug. 22. Ontario County First Assistant District Attorney Jason MacBride, who is prosecuting the case, said Canandaigua City Court Judge Jackie Sisson Sherry has been assigned.

Montesanto made an initial appearance in city court Aug. 5 before Judge Tim Buckley. At that time, Buckley said he may have to recuse himself because he is hearing another case — it involves a dog complaint — involving the alleged victim in Montesanto’s case.

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