Wong: Fired Fitchburg officer 'violat...

Wong: Fired Fitchburg officer 'violated public trust' - Sentine...

There are 116 comments on the Sentinel & Enterprise story from Jan 12, 2010, titled Wong: Fired Fitchburg officer 'violated public trust' - Sentine.... In it, Sentinel & Enterprise reports that:

Mayor Lisa Wong commented for the first time Monday on her decision to fire Capt.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Sentinel & Enterprise.

It was a crime hmm

Harvard, MA

#45 Jan 12, 2010
FITCHBURG -- The police department is conducting a criminal investigation into the city's stolen money, Police Chief Edward F. Cronin said Wednesday.

An independent audit released this week concluded that former treasurer Bruce Richards stole $41,176 from the city in the 15 months preceding his September 2006 death.

"As far as we know, Mr. Richards was the only person involved in this," Cronin said, adding that the investigation is still ongoing.

Police began the criminal investigation earlier this month, after auditors Melanson Heath & Company told the department that money was missing.

"I was informed of some irregularities back in September," Cronin said. "We decided that we would wait until the audit was complete. You have to substantiate that a crime occurred before an investigation can begin."

Cronin said he has no reason to believe that more than $41,176 is missing, or that anyone besides Richards played a part.

"It's really been an exercise in finding out what the mechanics were and who was responsible," the chief said.

Detective Lt. Paul Bozicas will be investigating, according to Cronin.

"There wouldn't be a prosecution if we didn't have a person to prosecute," Cronin continued, referring to the fact that Richards is dead. "It's more a matter of making sure it doesn't happen again."

The alleged theft is a felony, and would be referred to the district attorney if Richards were alive, Cronin and Capt. Philip J. Kearns
Erin McNamarra

Harvard, MA

#46 Jan 12, 2010
The chief said he's "satisfied" with the progress of the investigation so far.

He also commended Erin McNamara, assistant to the treasurer, who alerted the mayor in early September to the possibility of wrongdoing.

"I think that Erin had courage to do what she did," the police chief said. "And we're very appreciative.
Cronin and Kearns

Harvard, MA

#47 Jan 12, 2010
It was a crime hmm wrote:
FITCHBURG -- The police department is conducting a criminal investigation into the city's stolen money, Police Chief Edward F. Cronin said Wednesday.
An independent audit released this week concluded that former treasurer Bruce Richards stole $41,176 from the city in the 15 months preceding his September 2006 death.
"As far as we know, Mr. Richards was the only person involved in this," Cronin said, adding that the investigation is still ongoing.
Police began the criminal investigation earlier this month, after auditors Melanson Heath & Company told the department that money was missing.
"I was informed of some irregularities back in September," Cronin said. "We decided that we would wait until the audit was complete. You have to substantiate that a crime occurred before an investigation can begin."
Cronin said he has no reason to believe that more than $41,176 is missing, or that anyone besides Richards played a part.
"It's really been an exercise in finding out what the mechanics were and who was responsible," the chief said.
Detective Lt. Paul Bozicas will be investigating, according to Cronin.
"There wouldn't be a prosecution if we didn't have a person to prosecute," Cronin continued, referring to the fact that Richards is dead. "It's more a matter of making sure it doesn't happen again."
The alleged theft is a felony, and would be referred to the district attorney if Richards were alive, Cronin and Capt. Philip J. Kearns
I wonder what Cronin and kearns has to say about this Tasca matter?? Would it be the same as the Richards matter??

This is what they stated about Richards: "The alleged theft is a felony, and would be referred to the district attorney if Richards were alive, Cronin and Capt. Philip J. Kearns".
Cronin kearns ect

Harvard, MA

#48 Jan 12, 2010
Erin McNamarra wrote:
The chief said he's "satisfied" with the progress of the investigation so far.
He also commended Erin McNamara, assistant to the treasurer, who alerted the mayor in early September to the possibility of wrongdoing.
"I think that Erin had courage to do what she did," the police chief said. "And we're very appreciative.
Wasn't there an independant auditor? Maybe this auditor discovered something of interest back then? Who investigated?? Are there any results yet?? Did these treasurers have access to the FPD books? Maybe Erin seen something in 06 ? Maybe someone could ask her! Where was the money taken from??

Didn't Tasca state that others such as Kearns,Cronin ect.. were taking this "self kept comp time also"? Someone should question all those that Tasca stated stole money.

If the FBI did this, isn't there a danger of "lying to federal investigators"? It is a federal offense,correct? We need someone to sort this out for us!
civil service

Fort Myers, FL

#49 Jan 12, 2010
Confused wrote:
Could you please explain to the public between conducting an administrative investigation and a criminal investigation of a civil service empolyee. I'm not certain, but once you institute an administrative investigation, how can you then turn it into a criminal investigation? You allege that Tasca is guilty of larceny. Why didn't you apply for a criminal complaint? If you allege Tasca violated State Ethics laws, then why didn't you forward a complaint to that agency for investigation? That wouldn't have cost the tax payers one nickel. I'm just confused!
A simple explanation is that an administrative investigation is based on 'reasonable suspicion' and a criminal investigation is based on 'probable cause'... a much tougher standard.

A finding by a hearing office (usually a lawyer) that a public employee is Responsible or Not Responsible of specific charge(s) is determined by a 'preponderance' of the evidence(51+) and a criminal prosecution by a District Attorney must be proved 'beyond a reasonable doubt' as determined by an unanimous (100%) verdict of Guilty by a jury of peers.

Usually a public employee who is facing criminal charges is 'suspended with pay' until they are actually indicted (because they are innocent until proven guilty) and not fired until after the criminal court verdict. So the employee could be getting a paycheck for weeks or months.

When failry and properly conducted, an administrative hearing is less costly for the municipality, and if an employee is fired as a result of an administrative hearing, they can still be criminally charged (but usually are not)... and if they should be criminally charged they do not have to be suspended with pay because they are no longer an employee.

For what it is worth, a civil service hearing is no longer a 'slam dunk' for civil service employees, because unlike in the past when hearing officers where mostly political hacks, the current civil service hearing officers are usually lawyers who understand and impartially apply administrative laws (because they might want to be judges one day).
Confused

Clinton, MA

#50 Jan 12, 2010
civil service wrote:
<quoted text>
A simple explanation is that an administrative investigation is based on 'reasonable suspicion' and a criminal investigation is based on 'probable cause'... a much tougher standard.
A finding by a hearing office (usually a lawyer) that a public employee is Responsible or Not Responsible of specific charge(s) is determined by a 'preponderance' of the evidence(51+) and a criminal prosecution by a District Attorney must be proved 'beyond a reasonable doubt' as determined by an unanimous (100%) verdict of Guilty by a jury of peers.
Usually a public employee who is facing criminal charges is 'suspended with pay' until they are actually indicted (because they are innocent until proven guilty) and not fired until after the criminal court verdict. So the employee could be getting a paycheck for weeks or months.
When failry and properly conducted, an administrative hearing is less costly for the municipality, and if an employee is fired as a result of an administrative hearing, they can still be criminally charged (but usually are not)... and if they should be criminally charged they do not have to be suspended with pay because they are no longer an employee.
For what it is worth, a civil service hearing is no longer a 'slam dunk' for civil service employees, because unlike in the past when hearing officers where mostly political hacks, the current civil service hearing officers are usually lawyers who understand and impartially apply administrative laws (because they might want to be judges one day).
Thanks for your response, but I'm still a little confused. I was under the impression that when this Donovan had this Tasca coming in for questioning, the investigator had to tell Tasca that it was an administrative investigation and not a criminal investigation. Resaon being; unded an administrative investigation the emplyee must answer questions posed to him/her or face immediate firing. I've also been told that questions posed during an administrative investigation can not be used in a criminal charge. Another words, once you compell an employee to answer administratively, how can you then use the product of that interview in a criminal complaint. You sound like you know what your're talking about so please help me understand.
Leslie

Shirley, MA

#52 Jan 12, 2010
From what the Mayor stated apparently there was
enough to move to termination. Naturally Tasca
will fight it, he has much to lose if he doesn't.
From what has been said in the Sentinel, and by
Tasca at the hearing, it would certainly appear
that the investigation has found something. Was it
done poorly? Not questioning witnesses certainly
doesn't make it seem like a thorough job. From
what I read, and hear, there are more names that
have cropped up. The investigation wasn't just
about Tasca, he's just the first one that action
has been taken against. Wonder who, and how many,
are going to be named. It's taken a bit of time
but remember 'the wheels of the gods grind
exceeding slow, but they grind exceeding fine'.
More to come I'm sure.
Leslie
bad lieutenant Harvey

Leominster, MA

#53 Jan 12, 2010
Hey thats nothing, this police captain is a freakin chior boy for christs sake....did you see my movie? Did you see the B.S. I pulled? Give this guy a medal and a few more free vacation days. Good luck Tasca.
FPD speaking

Harvard, MA

#54 Jan 12, 2010
god forbid wrote:
<quoted text> someone actually slept with that nasty slant eye...yuck I say we string her from a light pole and restore our police force to full strenght...remeber she dose not even live in our community she merly owns property here
Which filthy cop is this??
Not just Fitchburg

Fitchburg, MA

#55 Jan 12, 2010
Kevin Check this out http://coburn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm... . The more and more I hear about the corruption at the police department the more and more I’m disgusted, and the deeper and deeper I feel we need to look at not just the PD but the city as a whole! What I think many people on this blog fail to realize is that what is happening in Fitchburg is the result of a trickle down effect. First it started in Washington then Massachusetts and now Fitchburg. Going after the members of the police department will no solve this city’s problems alone. Sure you might catch a few members of the Police Department doing wrong but what about the rest of the city? Does the chief live in Fitchburg? Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought a condition of his employment was that he moved into the city within a reasonable time frame? It’s been a couple of years at least and still the chief lives at least 30 to 45 min away, mind you he commutes to and form work in a city owned vehicle (whose to say he doesn’t drive it around any more then that). The money spent on gas and repairs will quickly add up. This should be looked into because if the chief has not made an attempt to move then he is not fulfilling one of the conditions of his employment and he should be investigated. Some of you here claim that the Mayor’s primary residence is out side the city limits and she only owns property and receives mail at an address here in the city. If this claim (which should be investigated) were true then the mayor should be removed from office. Now that’s just focusing on a few cretin issues, if all this is going on at the PD then what is going on at the School department, Building Department, Fire Department, DPW etc. I believe that if one looks long and hard enough they would be shocked at what they find. Now do I think this is a new problem nope! I think the reason that it has gotten so bad in Fitchburg is because it has gotten worse at the Federal and State level. In order to fix Fitchburg’s problems these problems must be first fixed at the Federal and State level because until they are you will always have people somewhere in some city department thinking hey if they can do it at the State and Federal level then why can’t we do it here.
patsy

Gardner, MA

#56 Jan 12, 2010
The racist comment concerning Mayor Wong was out of line with the blogs. If you cannot stick to the issues and prolems we are discussing then read your comic books. The rest of us are adults not angry defendants.
civil service

Naples, FL

#57 Jan 12, 2010
Confused wrote:
<quoted text>
Thanks for your response, but I'm still a little confused. I was under the impression that when this Donovan had this Tasca coming in for questioning, the investigator had to tell Tasca that it was an administrative investigation and not a criminal investigation. Resaon being; unded an administrative investigation the emplyee must answer questions posed to him/her or face immediate firing. I've also been told that questions posed during an administrative investigation can not be used in a criminal charge. Another words, once you compell an employee to answer administratively, how can you then use the product of that interview in a criminal complaint. You sound like you know what your're talking about so please help me understand.
You may be right, but I've read that governmental agencies have a right to compel a statement from an employee at any time. Compliance with an order is mandatory from any government employee or the employee is subject to one charge of insubordination each and every time they refuse to comply.

Courts have consistently ruled government agencies i.e. being funded with taxpayer dollars have the right to an accounting from their employees, especially public safety employees, about their activities that relate to their performance or ability to perform their assigned duties.

However, the Fifth Amendment guarantees all citizens the right to be free from compulsory self-incrimination and the "Miranda" warning explains that any individual can refuse to answer questions that might incriminate them and etc.

So if a governmental employee refuses to make a statement or answer questions under his constitutional right to be free from self-incrimination, this carries over to the so-called "Garrity" warning.

This means that he must be warned that once he is given immunity he must answer all questions truthfully because refusal to answer, or making any false statements under a grant of immunity, can be grounds for immediate termination, and or prosecution (for giving a false statement to the FBI for example).

The "Miranda" warning (and immunity) is used only when there is the potential of criminal liability. But if the government employee ordered to give a statement does not refuse, even after receiving the Miranda warning, then this employee would not automatically be entitled to immunity, therefore, no Garrity warning. All such statements can be used against the employee at an administrative hearing; and later if there is a criminal indictment. A hearing would almost always happen first.

In fairness, it appears that this police captain apparently did not exercise his right to refuse to answer questions (or speak to the press)because he believes that what he allegedly did was neither a violation of department policy nor a violation of law. If this is the case, and he voluntarily agreed to make a statement and answser questions, then possibly there was no need for him to be offered immunity from criminal charges or given the Garrity warning. So the statements he made were used against him and can be used against others too. I guess time will tell.
Resident

Berlin, MA

#58 Jan 13, 2010
LINCOLN STREET wrote:
between $5000.00 to $10,000.00 pissed away over a $2100.00 dollar debt. Good going mayor wrong. do all of the taxpayers in this city and offer charlie a good settlement now before he sues you back to the stone age. IDIOT!!!
So,what you are saying is that if it costs too much to investigate a CRIME, we look the other way. In your own words "IDIOT".
RLA

Fitchburg, MA

#59 Jan 13, 2010
what a wrote:
joke, that Wong would think over compensation time due Charlie would be worth her 5 to 10 thousand dollars !! are you kidding me lady; the bottom line he more than likely was due comp time and honestly did she have to take it this far! this woman is a complete joke and all it is to me is money used as some type of power play for her and to try to show others who is boss! What do you want from a spoiled kid, typical of her generation; the princess has spoken! get off your high horse Lisa and grow the F-up!
Well, well, aren't you the condescending J.@ss. Spoiled kid, her generation? Maybe it's time you grow up and act your age. Your level of intelligence is shining through and it equates to that of a 2nd grader.

If the mayor was aware of Tascas wrongdoings and she didn't do anything about it, like the previous mayors, then I would be of the opinion that she should be ousted. However, she did not look the other way and for that, I commend her.

If Tasca had been on Family Leave, his job would have been protected and his termination wouldn't have happened. But instead, he chose to do it the illegal way. What goes around comes around!
Confused

Clinton, MA

#60 Jan 13, 2010
Thanks for getting back.
civil service wrote:
<quoted text>
You may be right, but I've read that governmental agencies have a right to compel a statement from an employee at any time. Compliance with an order is mandatory from any government employee or the employee is subject to one charge of insubordination each and every time they refuse to comply.
Courts have consistently ruled government agencies i.e. being funded with taxpayer dollars have the right to an accounting from their employees, especially public safety employees, about their activities that relate to their performance or ability to perform their assigned duties.
However, the Fifth Amendment guarantees all citizens the right to be free from compulsory self-incrimination and the "Miranda" warning explains that any individual can refuse to answer questions that might incriminate them and etc.
So if a governmental employee refuses to make a statement or answer questions under his constitutional right to be free from self-incrimination, this carries over to the so-called "Garrity" warning.
This means that he must be warned that once he is given immunity he must answer all questions truthfully because refusal to answer, or making any false statements under a grant of immunity, can be grounds for immediate termination, and or prosecution (for giving a false statement to the FBI for example).
The "Miranda" warning (and immunity) is used only when there is the potential of criminal liability. But if the government employee ordered to give a statement does not refuse, even after receiving the Miranda warning, then this employee would not automatically be entitled to immunity, therefore, no Garrity warning. All such statements can be used against the employee at an administrative hearing; and later if there is a criminal indictment. A hearing would almost always happen first.
In fairness, it appears that this police captain apparently did not exercise his right to refuse to answer questions (or speak to the press)because he believes that what he allegedly did was neither a violation of department policy nor a violation of law. If this is the case, and he voluntarily agreed to make a statement and answser questions, then possibly there was no need for him to be offered immunity from criminal charges or given the Garrity warning. So the statements he made were used against him and can be used against others too. I guess time will tell.
I think I would have a hard time believing that Tasca didn't have a lawyer when he went to see this Donovan. I'm still told that this Donovan would have had to declare at this first meeting that this was either and administrative or criminal investigation. And it seems I agree with you that Donovan would have had to advise Tasca of his Miranda rights if it were criminal vs an administrative investigation where he would get immunity from criminal charges if they exist. This really seems to be a personnel matter that should have been handled by the police chief and his administration. I'm told on several occasions in the FPD & FFD that some personnel over use vacation days and other days because they were under the belief they still had days on the books. Does this mean it is a criminal issue or an administrative one? I'm hearing this Tasca will be coming in with past and present department members to testify that the use of these comp days was an accepted and common practice in the FPD. If this is the case, then why didn't the Mayor have this Donovan attempt to do a complete investigation and interview past and present employees to learn if this was indeed going on. Hope this isn't a case of someone they hate so much that they would do anything to get rid of them. But your're right, time will tell. No one is above the law, not Tasca, Mayor, Chief, Donovan or anyone else that is, was or will testify.
FPD speaking

Harvard, MA

#61 Jan 13, 2010
Tasca has stated that this was always done by everyone in the administration for years?

Is this going to be investigated? Have all the past and present administration been asked about this time?

If the FBI ask them they have to answer or they will be charged with lying! Felony charge!

They should cooperate!
Amanda

Templeton, MA

#62 Jan 13, 2010
This is all a shock but what cop who has authority doesn't do something crooked. Like they'll ever admit to any wrong doing.
Darn Tootin from W Newton

Boston, MA

#63 Jan 13, 2010
FPD speaking wrote:
Tasca has stated that this was always done by everyone in the administration for years?
Is this going to be investigated? Have all the past and present administration been asked about this time?
If the FBI ask them they have to answer or they will be charged with lying! Felony charge!
They should cooperate!
My guess is that the boys at the Fitchburg PD will promise to tighten up on the recording and the use of comp time; but nothing much more will become of this issue.

Let's not forget Folks, that about a year ago, there were countless nasty remarks getting Posted here on Fitchburg Topix Forum in regards to DeMoura and Mayor Wong. And, some of those nasty postings appeared to be coming from some unhappy Fitchburg PD Brass. Since that time, three high ranking members of the FPD (including Tasca) are no longer with the force.

My strong hunch is that some house cleaning was done because the source of many of the nasty postings was found out. And, my hunch is that the house cleaning is now complete; as far as the nasty postings go.

Getting Tasca out the door was possible because of his apparent admission to the creative use of comp time. But, I strongly feel that no one is going to be poking around a whole lot more regarding comp time usage. Again, it appears that there were a few malcontents on the FPD. And, the source of their displeasure was the fact that Mayor Wong brought in DeMoura to ride herd over the FPD. Clearly; a few people thought that THEY should have had the job and not DeMoura. My hunch is that these malcontents were slamming the Mayor and Chief DeMoura on this forum; and it came back to bite them.

So, based on the above, I feel that the Fitchburg PD will not continue to investigate the improper use of comp time and then report the findings back to the Taxpayers.

I could be all wrong; but that is how I see this whole mess.......
city

Somerville, MA

#64 Jan 13, 2010
FPD speaking wrote:
Tasca has stated that this was always done by everyone in the administration for years?
Is this going to be investigated? Have all the past and present administration been asked about this time?
If the FBI ask them they have to answer or they will be charged with lying! Felony charge!
They should cooperate!
The present chief even admitted that he does it.
Darn Tootin from W Newton

Boston, MA

#65 Jan 13, 2010
city wrote:
<quoted text>The present chief even admitted that he does it.
My strong hunch is that they ALL do it.

Folks, I already have shown the real numbers regarding paid time off that the Fitchburg PD averaged; as reported in the Fitchburg PD Annual Report for 2006:

The average Fitchburg cop took 52.18 paid days off per year from the years of 2003 through 2006. Again, this is the number that each and every cop averaged for those for years. And, that time is for paid sick days, paid vacation days, paid personal days and paid days for injury on the job. This DOES NOT include paid Holidays. So, we can all plainly see that they basically average one paid day of PER WEEK, before paid Holiday Time!

And in spite of all that time off; they are apparently VERY CREATIVE when it comes to taking even more paid time off, due to this comp time issue. Again, it appears that they are all taken full advantage of a practically limitless amount of paid time off! And, we get forced into paying overtime to cover for this ridicules amount paid time off. And, if we don't pay them the overtime pay; they are earning comp time instead. SO, IT IS A SYSTEM THAT FEEDS UPON ITSELF AND CANNOT HELP BUT GENERATE UNLIMITED PAID DAYS OFF FOR THEM!

Of course, the cops and their supporters all tell us that all of this time is necessary because of the high risk they are all facing each and every day that they are on the job. The fact that the bulk of them are facing no risks whatsover seems to matter very little in their defense of the excessive paid time off.

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