NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 1, 2013

Officers suspended in state trooper scandal

Haverhill hands down punishment in Noyes crash

WEST NEWBURY — Three Haverhill police officers have been suspended without pay and one saved his job by agreeing to be demoted, following secret hearings on charges they gave preferential treatment to former high-ranking state troopers involved in car crashes, including one in West Newbury.

The officers’ punishments came after police Chief Alan DeNaro ordered initial suspensions and then recommended Mayor James Fiorentini give them further suspensions. The mayor ordered the latest punishments after hearings which concluded in October. The Eagle-Tribune, a sister paper of The Daily News, recently obtained the hearing documents as a result of a formal public records request.

In the initial punishments, DeNaro suspended Sgt. Harry Miller, Lt. William Leeman and patrolman Christopher Pagliuca for five days each for their roles in the handling of a March crash involving Charles Noyes, 62, of Haverhill, former deputy superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police. The officers were cited for writing untruthful or incomplete reports, unsatisfactory job performance and violating police ethics.

Miller was suspended an additional five days for what officials called his questionable investigation of a 2005 crash involving former state trooper Paul Regan of Rowley, who retired from the state police in 2003 as a lieutenant colonel. The city learned of the Regan incident during its investigation of the Noyes accident.

As police chief, the harshest punishment DeNaro can make is a five-day suspension. But he also recommended that Fiorentini fire Miller and suspend Leeman for an additional five days without pay. Miller has a history of similar conduct and Leeman was shift commander during the Noyes incident.

All three officers appealed the chief’s decision under Civil Service rules, which triggered local hearings presided over by Boston lawyer Michael Ward, who was hired by the mayor. City officials said they were willing to open the hearings to the public and media, but the officers insisted on their being held behind closed doors. The hearings concluded in October and Ward recently submitted his 11-page report and recommendations.

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