Nov 7 2013

Springfield police officer faces disciplinary action after reporting weapon missing

Dr. Q

The Republican reports:

A Springfield police officer, who reported that his service firearm had gone missing from a Hartford apartment last month during his off-duty hours, was subject to a four-hour disciplinary hearing Wednesday at department headquarters.

Sgt. John M. Delaney identified the officer in question as Kevin Merchant and said a decision regarding potential discipline for him has yet to be made.

Delaney said a written report on the results of the hearing will be forwarded to Commissioner William J. Fitchet, who will then make a decision on potential discipline.

Delaney, aide to Commissioner William J. Fitchet, said the process could take 7 to 10 days. Until then, Merchant will remain on normal duty status with the department.

Nov 6 2013

State trooper who leaked Tsarnaev photos retires after signing off on disciplinary charges

Dr. Q


Boston Magazine reports:

Three and a half months after releasing the dramatic behind-the-scenes photos he took during the manhunt for suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Sgt. Sean Murphy has retired from the Massachusetts State Police.

As part of a negotiated agreement, Murphy has also signed off on five disciplinary charges that were brought against him for the unauthorized release of the photos: violation of rules; unbecoming conduct; unsatisfactory performance; insubordination; and dissemination of information.

Under the agreement, Murphy waived his right to contest the charges before a trial board; was docked five of the vacation days he’d accrued; and received an honorable discharge. “I think it’s fair,” he told me this morning. “It could have been much worse.” His retirement, which comes after 25 years with the State Police, is effective Nov. 1.

When I asked him whether he’d been forced into the action, he replied: “My lawyer put it this way: ‘One can only form their own conclusions.’ I didn’t have to retire, but I realize and understand that I’ll never photograph again for the Mass State Police. I could work the midnight desk sergeant shift in Athol, but I have 25 years and I can retire.”

State Police spokesman David Procopio confirmed that Murphy retired last week. “The process took its course, and Sgt. Murphy went through the disciplinary process,” Procopio said. “He chose to retire.” Procopio said that the marathon bombings and the manhunt that followed will always be a part of Massachusetts State Police history, and that “Sean’s release of the photographs will always be a footnote in it. I don’t think there’s much more I want to say about it.”

Read the rest of this article here.

Nov 3 2013

Lowell pays $642,000 to former cop for retaliation by police department

Dr. Q

The Lowell Sun reports:

The city recently paid $642,000 to a former Lowell police officer, ending a long-running legal battle the former officer claims began in the late 1990s, when he tussled with a fellow officer who he claimed was “politically connected.”

The payment was made to Robert Alvarez, 55, of Methuen.

Alvarez initially sued the city in January 2006, claiming years of discrimination due to his race. After a 15-day trial and two days of deliberations, a Middlesex Superior Court jury rendered its decision on Deb. 1, 2006. It awarded Alvarez, a 19-year veteran, $15,000 for emotional distress, $60,000 for lost income and $90,000 in punitive damages for retaliation dating back to 1999.

In its verdict, the jury found that the LPD did not discriminate against Alvarez, but did retaliate against him when he filed discrimination claims with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. The Sun reported at the time that the jury agreed in its verdict that the city’s conduct showed “reckless indifference to others.”

The city, however, appealed the decision, and in December 2011, the Appeals Court stated that the jury “reasonably could have concluded that the department equated Alvarez’s filing of an MCAD complaint with a bad attitude, and then denied Alvarez opportunities and assignments on that basis going forward.”

The Sun was unaware of that ruling until it received a letter earlier this month from one of Alvarez’s lawyers, Matthew Fogelman of Newton.

Read the rest of this article here.

Nov 1 2013

Natick police officer arrested for allegedly assaulting girlfriend

Dr. Q

The MetroWest Daily News reports:

A Natick Police officer arrested Thursday and charged with beating his girlfriend is on leave from the department, authorities said.

Sean David Munger, 32, pleaded not guilty to a single charge of assault and battery at his Framingham District Court arraignment Thursday.

Prosecutor Rachel Perlman said police went to Dartmouth Street around 2:30 a.m. for a report of a dispute and were greeted by Munger’s 23-year-old girlfriend. She had several bruises on her face, swollen areas and a two-inch abrasion on her face, the prosecutor said.

The woman said Munger had hit her. She told police he had gotten on top of her and punched her twice on each side of her face, before she fled the home and began knocking on neighbors’ doors for about a half hour before someone let her in to call police, Perlman said.

The woman told police Munger had hit her in the past, but she never reported it. She also told police “she feared she would be killed by this defendant,” Perlman said.

Perlman asked Judge Robert Greco to hold Munger, of Dartmouth Street, on $500 bail, order him to turn over any firearms and to stay away and not contact the victim.

She said police had already taken away Munger’s gun and license to carry.

Munger’s lawyer, Charles Kelley, argued bail was not necessary. He said Munger has been a police officer in town for six years, was a graduate of Natick High School and was not a flight risk.

Munger also denied the allegations, Kelley said.

“He’s not going anywhere,” said Kelley. “He plans on contesting the charges.”

Greco released Munger without bail. He ordered Munger to not contact and to stay away from the victim and to turn over all firearms to the police department.

In a statement, Natick Police said, “The matter is currently under investigation and one involving personnel decisions. Officer Munger is presently on administrative leave.”

Greco said the case will be transferred from Framingham District Court to another court because Munger frequently testifies during hearings and trials in Framingham.

Munger is due back in court on Dec. 4 for a pretrial conference.

Oct 25 2013

Former Northborough police officer indicted for stealing from union

Dr. Q

A former Northborough police officer who previously resigned after being accused of stealing from the police union has been indicted. The MetroWest Daily News reports:

The former head of the Northborough Police patrolman’s union has been indicted on a charge he stole more than $25,000 from the union over a three-year period, the Worcester district attorney’s office said on Friday.

Nathan W.S. Fiske Sr., 33, of 318 Holden St., Holden was indicted by a Worcester County grand jury on Thursday on larceny of more than $250 by a common scheme.

Fiske is scheduled to be arraigned in Worcester Superior Court Nov. 6.

Fiske, who was a Northborough Police officer for six years, recently resigned from the force.

Authorities say Fiske stole more than $25,000 from the Massachusetts Coalition of Police (Mass. C.O.P.) Local 165, between Dec. 17, 2009 and March 14, 2013. He was the president of the union from September 2008 through May 2012.

“This was done over a period of time,” said current Local 165 President Detective Jeff Noel. “It wasn’t like he took one big chunk. He took smaller chunks.”

Each of the 25 union members paid $12 a week for union dues. Noel later found out that the union was at least three years behind on its dues for Mass. C.O.P., which was about $4,800.

“We’re up-to-date now,” said Noel. “There was a little bit left. We were able to pay back the dues.”

The thefts were discovered after Noel became union president and had the account switched from Fiske’s name in the spring. Union members noticed that more than $25,000 was missing.

Because of that deficit an officer who attended an annual Mass. C.O.P. conference in Hyannis this year had to pay for it out of pocket rather than have it paid for by the union.

Noel said he could not talk about the specifics of the case against Fiske.

“I didn’t do the investigation so I can’t get into anything of that nature,” Noel said.

Update (10/27/2013): Used a more thorough article.

Oct 23 2013

Mendon police lieutenant charged with attacking fellow officers with knife, taser

Dr. Q

Recently, Lieutenant Donald R. Blanchette, Jr. of the Mendon Police Department was placed on paid leave while under investigation for misconduct by the Worcester District Attorney’s Office. The Police Department and DA’s office refused to say what he was being investigated for. Now, the officer is facing criminal charges and the results of the investigation have been disclosed.

The Telegram & Gazette reports:

Lt. Blanchette, 50, pleaded not guilty Monday in Milford District Court to four counts of assault and battery, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and a count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Judge Robert Calagione ordered Lt. Blanchette to stay away from the alleged victims.

The judge allowed motions to impound or redact the lieutenant’s address and waived his appearance at the next pretrial conference. The case was continued to Dec. 16.

The judge indicated he intends to have the case transferred to another court, Timothy J. Connolly, a spokesman for Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr., said today.

Lt. Blanchette was arrested Monday by state police assigned to Mr. Early’s office.

The lieutenant allegedly assaulted Officer Christopher Bettencourt with a knife on Sept. 10, the police report said.

Officer Bettencourt was placed in fear when the lieutenant raised an open folding tactical knife toward Officer Bettencourt’s neck and groin, state police said.

On “diverse dates” from Jan. 11 to May 17, Lt. Blanchette assaulted Officer Bruce Poirier by striking him with a closed fist, the report said.

Without notice or provocation the lieutenant punched Officer Poirier in the chest, state police said.

Within the same time, Lt. Blanchette struck Officer Poirier’s chest and back, state police said.

On Sept. 17, Lt. Blanchette struck Officer Bettencourt in the ribs, investigators said.

From 2008 to 2013, Lt. Blanchette struck Officer Bettencourt in the chest. He punched Officer Bettencourt in the arm with a closed fist without notice or provocation, the report said.

On or about Jan. 11, Lt. Blanchette attempted to use his department issued Taser to “drive stun” Officer Poirier in the groin, state police said.

From Nov. 19 to April 29, Lt. Blanchette aimed a Taser at Officer Poirier, the report said.

From 2008 to January 2010, Lt. Blanchette used “an antenna-like” device in a whipping motion to strike Officer Poirier, the report said.

Last week, Mendon Police Chief Ernest Horn confirmed that Lt. Blanchette had been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

On Tuesday, Chief Horn said Lt. Blanchette will be transferring to medical leave at the end of the week for an unrelated medical issue.