Dracut MA deputy police chief suspended

By Todd Feathers | Lowell Sun News

DRACUT — Deputy Police Chief David Chartrand has been suspended for two weeks without pay, following a civil service inquiry into his handling of documents in a Dracut lieutenant’s personnel file.

An attorney representing Chartrand said he will appeal the ruling, which was made by Town Manager Jim Duggan and based on a report by an independent hearing officer who oversaw the inquiry last month. The Board of Selectmen was notified of the decision Monday morning.

“The discipline is absurd and we’re looking forward to the deputy being exonerated by the Civil Service Commission,” attorney Andrew Gambiccini said, adding “(Chartrand) has given his life to the town of Dracut and nothing has changed about his desire to serve the community.

It’s just one individual in a position of power who is looking to abuse that power.”

Gambaccini has previously accused Duggan of engaging in a biased campaign against his client. Duggan declined to discuss the suspension, saying it was a personnel matter and must therefore be kept confidential. [Read more…]

Records show ex-police chief offered to leave for $350K

By K.C. Myers | Cape Cod Times

PROVINCETOWN — Getting rid of Police Chief Jeff Jaran could have occurred more quickly and cost the town nearly $163,000 less than it did, according to newly released minutes from closed-door selectmen meetings.

In May 2015, selectmen agreed to pay Jaran $512,797 after an arbitration panel determined he should have been suspended without pay for a year rather than fired for his actions related to the May 2013 town election that were found to violate local, state and federal laws.

Earlier this year, the Times requested the release of the minutes from executive session meetings that occurred between his termination in December of 2013 and the settlement agreement.

Last month, selectmen authorized Michele Randazzo, the town’s legal counsel with the law firm Kopelman & Paige, to release the minutes from 12 meetings over that period. But Randazzo blacked out chunks of the written records, citing attorney-client privilege, which allows conversations between public officials and their attorneys to remain private. [Read more…]

Dracut deputy police chief digs in for hearing

By Todd Feathers | Lowell Sun

DRACUT — Town Manager Jim Duggan has scheduled a civil-service hearing Monday to determine whether Deputy Police Chief David Chartrand violated department policy and state law when he released documents regarding a Dracut police lieutenant to The Sun.

Chartrand received a letter notifying him of the hearing on Wednesday and through a lawyer expressed his expectation that the hearing would be a “farce and a sham” due to Duggan’s bias against him.

“For some time, it has been evident that Town Manager James Duggan has waged an illicit campaign designed to discredit and harm Deputy Chief Chartrand,” attorney Andrew Gambaccini said in a statement.

“The vendetta has now lasted for many months and Manager Duggan’s latest step, to advance baseless administrative charges against the Deputy, is the culmination of that endeavor.” [Read more…]

Chicopee Police sergeant wins back job after Civil Service Commission rejects chief’s punishment

By Jeanette DeForge | MassLive

A Chicopee Police Department sergeant, once accused of sharing graphic photos of murder victim Amanda Plasse, has been reinstated by the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission after being demoted to patrolman for “untruthfulness” on a burglary case.

Following an appeal hearing, the commission reversed the demotion of Police Sgt. Jeffery Godere made by Mayor Richard J. Kos. It however upheld a five-day suspension imposed for failing to meet his responsibilities as a supervisor made by Police Chief William Jebb.

The reversal is the latest in a long series of battles fought and lawsuits filed in the deeply divided and troubled Chicopee Police Department.

This is the second Civil Service Commission decision released this month on an appeal of discipline meted out by Jebb. In both decisions, Commissioner Christopher Bowman referenced the ongoing divisions in the department. [Read more…]

South Hadley Fire District 1 to keep Robert Authier as chief despite refusing to renew contract

By Jim Russell | Special to The Republican

The South Hadley Fire District 1 Prudential Committee has notified Fire Chief Robert Authier they intend to keep him as chief, even though the board has not renewed his contract that expires on Dec. 30.

Earlier this year, the three member panel had begun a search for a replacement chief.

But in a letter to Authier, Prudential Committee Chairman Kevin Taugher said that state law precludes them from getting rid of him without cause.

“Your employment with the Fire District will continue, consistent with the Fire District’s adoption of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 48 section 42,” Taugher’s Nov. 30 letter says:

That statute, known as the “strong chief” provision, precludes a municipality that has adopted it from removing a fire chief without cause. [Read more…]

South Hadley Fire District 1 Fire Chief Robert Authier hires lawyer after board fails to renew contract

By Jim Russell | Special to The Republican

The South Hadley Fire District 1 Prudential Committee has voted not to renew the employment contract of Chief Robert Authier, which expires on Dec. 31.

The board has begun a search process to hire a new chief, meeting minutes also show.

Contacted Tuesday, Authier said he has retained lawyer Andrew Gambaccini, of the Worcester firm Reardon, Joyce & Akerson.

The chief said his counsel is reviewing their options, should his employment with the town end, and that the committee has not cited him for any disciplinary action.

Gambaccini represented South Hadley police officer Mark Sowell, who was fired in 2009 — but was reinstated when an independent arbitrator ruled he was wrongfully terminated.

The lawyer is also representing municipal light department employee Robert Blasko, who filed a $750,000 whistleblower lawsuit against the agency last month. [Read more…]

Worcester Super Lawyers: Vigliotti and Gambaccini

Vigliotti Named A Massachusetts Super Lawyer and Gambaccini Again Named A Rising Star

The Worcester, Massachusetts law firm of Reardon, Joyce & Akerson, P.C. announces that John K. Vigliotti, an associate with the firm, has been selected as a Super Lawyer for 2015. Each year, no more than five percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by the Super Lawyers’ research team to receive this honor. The annual selections, based upon the standards of a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement, are made using a multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. In two prior years, Vigliotti was named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers.

In addition, Andrew J. Gambaccini, another associate with the firm, has been selected as a Massachusetts Rising Star by Super Lawyers.  This award is the seventh time that Gambaccini has been selected for the honor.  The award follows a rigorous, multi-phased process of review, limited to attorneys under the age of forty who have been members of the bar for less than ten years and who already have distinguished themselves in the practice of law.  No more than 2.5% of the attorneys in the state are given this award, recognition for which is published annually in Massachusetts Super Lawyers Rising Stars Edition and in Boston magazine.



Lawyer’s letters allege workplace intimidation at South Hadley Electric Light Department

By ERIC GOLDSCHEIDER | For the Gazette

Worcester attorney Andrew Gambaccini in June 2014 wrote a letter to each of the three commissioners of the South Hadley Electric Light Department in which he detailed a pattern of workplace intimidation and violence lasting more than a decade.

Gambaccini wrote on behalf of his client, SHELD electrician Robert Blasko Jr. who allegedly had been assaulted by Andrew Orr, an engineer with the utility, according to the June 12, 2014, letter. It also lists numerous instances in which Wayne Doerpholz, manager of the electric light department, failed to act.

“On a large number of occasions and in a variety of ways (Doerpholz) has been made aware of these events and consistently proven himself either unwilling or incapable of resolving the matter and ensuring a workplace environment free from violent, profane, threatening, intimidating, coercive and harassing behavior,” wrote Gambaccini.

He also urged the commissioners to launch a workplace investigation in order to avoid litigation. “Rather than simply bringing this matter to court,” wrote Gambaccini, Blasko wanted the issue “resolved outside of the judicial system … and the unsafe and hostile environment created by Orr and the manager to be brought to an end.” [Read more…]

Employee’s whistleblower suit claims workplace abuse at South Hadley Electric Light Department

By Jim Russell | Special to The Republican

SOUTH HADLEY — Workplace abuse spanning more than a decade and failures to address it are among claims at the heart of a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a municipal light department employee against the agency’s long-serving manager Wayne Doerpholz, engineer Andy Orr, the department itself and the board of commissioners. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of the new Labor Law Compliance Center and the light department employee Robert Blasko by his attorney. The suit claims Doerpholz allowed a hostile work environment, failed to reign in Orr when reports of abusive behavior were presented, and refused to discuss the allegations with the board of commissioners.

It also says the board failed to address the allegations, resulting in the complaint being filed in federal district court in Springfield on Friday.

Doerpholz could not immediately be reached for comment Monday, and Orr declined comment.

Language in the 38-page complaint expresses harsh criticism of the light department manager, alleging he was not bound by rules, regulations and laws. [Read more…]

South Hadley Electric Light Department sued under whistleblower law


A South Hadley Electric Light Department electrician is suing his employer for $750,000 under a federal whistleblower law, arguing that the municipal utility’s manager retaliated against him for going to police after another employee verbally and physically assaulted him in December 2013.

The complaint, filed in federal court in Springfield by Robert Blasko Jr., also names the SHELD board of commissioners and the town of South Hadley for not adequately supervising manager Wayne Doerpholz by failing to take action or responding within six months of having been notified of Doerpholz’s allegedly unlawful management practices.

Blasko claims that Andrew Orr, the employee who he alleges assaulted him, has a history of abusing employees that has included hitting and slapping people and at one point threateningly following someone around with a two-by-six piece of wood as if he were going to use it as a weapon. [Read more…]