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Monday, April 30, 2012

Corruption Recession

No corruption convictions recorded in Western Massachusetts in past 5 years 
The Republican by Jack Flynn  -  April 29, 2012

Former Pelham Police Chief Edward Fleury, former Holyoke acting Fire Chief William Moran and Springfield police officers Derek Cook and Jeffrey Asher are among public safety officials who have faced criminal charges recently. Of the four, only Fleury was cleared. 

SPRINGFIELD, MA – Call it a corruption recession. Not one mayor, state legislator, housing authority director, police commissioner or homeless shelter director has gone to prison in Hampden, Hampshire or Franklin counties in five years. No politician has even been handcuffed in Springfield since the U.S. Justice Department’s anti-corruption marathon ended in 2006. Compared to 42 defendants convicted in Springfield alone during the five-year municipal corruption probe, just 31 public employees were charged with crimes and ethical violations in Hampden and Hampshire counties since 2007, a study by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting found. Overall, that number represent a small slice of the state’s 250 cases, suggesting that public corruption has retreated, or at least taken a holiday in Greater Springfield. Related link High-profile public servants among hundreds in Massachusetts charged with crimes and ethics violations Instead of public figures charged with bid-rigging and no-show job schemes, the classes of 2007 through 2011 featured teachers, jail guards, police officers and firefighters carrying out a smattering of crimes, from falsifying credentials and Open Meeting Law violations to assault, rape and manslaughter. Two cases featured high-ranking public safety officers accused of endangering the public. In 2008, the accidental shooting death of a 8-year-old at a machine gun show in Westfield led to a manslaughter charge against Pelham Police Chief Edward Fleury, whose company sponsored the event. A jury acquitted Fleury of all charges in January 2010. In 2011, a fire report made by acting Holyoke Fire Chief William P. Moran led to a four-car accident and the chief being charged with making a false emergency call. In a plea deal this month, Moran was given 30 hours of community service and ordered to pay $500 in restitution after admitting making the false call. In Brimfield, five call firefighters pleaded guilty to torching three vacant homes in 2010 to relieve their boredom and, according to one, “to look cool.” Two were sentenced to three-year jail terms, and ordered to share in making $139,000 in restitution; two others were given three-year suspended sentences and restitution. The disposition of the other fifth cases was not immediately available. Police officers also got into trouble. In February, a jury convicted Springfield patrolman Jeffrey M. Asher in the videotaped flashlight beating of Melvin Jones III in a case that effectively ended Asher’s career and resulted in an 18-month jail sentence. Before a bystander filmed Jones’ arrest in 2009, Asher was perhaps best known for being cleared for kicking a suspect during another videotaped arrest in 1997. In July, Springfield patrolman Derek V. Cook pleaded guilty in Hampden Superior Court to assaulting two superior officers during a station house brawl in 2008. A third former Springfield patrolman was given two consecutive life terms after pleading guilty in 2010 to raping three young girls over a period of years. In sentencing Pedro J. Martinez, who resigned after his arrest in 2009 after two decades on the force, Judge Cornelius J. Moriarty called it “the most sordid case I have ever heard.” Two teachers were also arrested on allegations raping students. In Chicopee, special education math teacher Donald J. Cushing was charged with statutory rape after a 15-year-old student reported having sex with him several times in his classroom closet. A former Greenfield teacher has denied charges alleging he raped a former middle school student between 2004 to 2006. Brendan Kenny, 45, taught computer classes at Greenfield Middle School from 2004 to 2005. Both the cushing and Kenny cases are pending. The job-rigging scandal at the state Probation Department touched down in Northampton in December when Christopher J. Hoffman, acting chief probation officer in Hampshire Superior Court, was charged with intimidating and harassing a witness in the investigation. The 39-year-old Hatfield resident pleaded innocent and is out on leave without pay pending his trial. Several public servants, including Stephen P. Lisauskas, former executive director of the Springfield Finance Control Board, were tagged with ethics violations. In 2010, Lisauskas admitted violating the state’s conflict-of-interest law when by steering millions of dollars in city investments to Merrill Lynch despite having an undisclosed friendship with a company broker. He agreed to pay a $3,000 fine to settle the case. Agawam City Councilor George Bitzas was slapped with a $2,000 fine after suggesting that the owner of John’s Getty Auto on Main Street should take down a sign supporting then-mayoral candidate Susan R. Dawson. Bitzas admitted committing the violation in 2007, and was fined in 2009. Several government bodies – including the Holyoke Soldiers Home’s governing board and selectboards in Granby and Sturbridge – were also cited for violating the state Open Meeting Law, according to the data reviewed by the investigative reporting center.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Chris Hoffman was my Probation officer the year he started in Northampton. The guy pointed a loaded pistol at me after cocking it to intimidate when I best a VOP he files against me. Hope they send " Mr. Clean" as I used to call him upstate where he sent me with his dirty ass!!!