The Boston Herald by John Zaremba - March 3, 2012
‘Dirty’ Mashpee cop pocketed $16G in unemployment dough --— while under investigation!
A disgraced Mashpee cop raked in more than $16,000 in unemployment benefits over a six-month stretch during which he was facing a drug-dealing rap and also committing other crimes, including credit-card theft and larceny. “We were being taken for a ride, there’s no doubt about it,” said Mashpee Town Manager Joyce M. Mason, who fought the cop’s unemployment claim. “We had enough evidence that eventually he would be convicted on drug charges. And here we go, we had to prove ourselves to the unemployment office that he had violated the rules. It’s very difficult and it’s very frustrating.” The 2009 case of Joseph F. Kelley III comes amid a flurry of mind-boggling unemployment claims by public employees cited in a letter that two dozen municipal officials fired off earlier this week to Gov. Deval Patrick in a desperate plea to reform the jobless-benefit system. The Herald spotlighted one of those cases, involving a retired Lynnfield cop who scored unemployment pay even though he was already collecting a pension check and had pocketed thousands for detail gigs. The report prompted state Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Joanne F. Goldstein to reverse the Lynnfield ruling and to promise a thorough probe, while inviting towns and cities to report suspected unemployment abuse. Kelley, 36, resigned under pressure from the Mashpee Police Department in February 2009 and started collecting unemployment the next month. And the checks kept coming even after he was arrested the following May on charges of possession with intent to deal the painkiller Oxycodone, according to Marilyn Farren, a Mashpee personnel official. Kelley’s legal troubles continued that June with an arrest and eventual conviction on a charge of larceny of less than $250, and a September 2009 charge and conviction of stealing and misusing a credit card, Barnstable police Det. Lt. John Murphy confirmed. It was only then — after four separate objections from the town — that the unemployment payments stopped, Farren said. The Kelley case stunned even Lynnfield Town Administrator William Gustus, who has been leading the charge for reform and fielding similar complaints from municipal officials statewide. “I’ve been at this in my profession for a long time, and I didn’t think anything would surprise me, but I can’t understand this,” Gustus said. “It just cries out for some changes.” Kelley did not return a message left on a phone number listed for him in court records and was not present at his most recent address in Buzzards Bay. A woman there who identified herself as his cousin said she relayed a request for comment to him, and that he did not wish to discuss the matter. J. Drew Segadelli, a Falmouth attorney who represented Kelley in his criminal cases, said his former client’s problems were rooted in drug addiction. “This was nothing but a stand-up young man and a prime police officer for many years. He was there for a good long time and did a great job,” he said. “He was a very good police officer. Anybody and everybody would say that.” But not Mashpee police Capt. Scott Carline. “He was a good guy to get rid of,” he said. “He was as dirty as they come.”