Town owes fired police lieutenant more than $232,000

By Jaime Rebhan | Wareham Week

The Town of Wareham owes Wareham Police Lieutenant Donald Bliss more than $232,000 and counting, according to Bliss’ lawyer, Andrew Gambaccini.

More than two years after he was fired from his position with the Wareham Police Department for alleged violations of state ethics laws, the state Civil Service Commission determined last month that Bliss, a 24-year veteran of the force, was wrongfully discharged.

In addition to getting his job back, Bliss was awarded back pay plus interest. Gambaccini determined the amount Bliss is due and submitted it to Special Town Counsel Steven A. Torres, he said.

The interest continues to accrue on the $232,000 until the balance is paid in full. That figure was good until June 17. Approximately $530 in interest tacks on each week until the town pays, Gambaccini said.

Bliss returned to work earlier this month and is currently completing training and obtaining the certifications necessary to return to the field, as required by state law whenever an officer has been out of work for a certain period of time.

Gambaccini explained the total owed to Bliss includes: a “conservative estimate” based on prior years of what Bliss would have earned in detail work; a clothing allowance, cleaning allowance, and stipend paid to lieutenants; personal days, sick leave buyback, and vacation/bonus days; the difference his family had to pay for health insurance after his termination; costs incurred for medical expenses because the family was not covered on the town plan.

The amount owed to Bliss is less the $22,352 and $25,986 he earned in unemployment compensation in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

The money Bliss earned through other employment with Intercity Alarms and Jack Conway Realty was also not deducted from the amount the town owes. Gambaccini argued that because Bliss had worked for the two companies while working for the town and had even made less through those jobs in 2009 and 2010 than in previous years, the amount earned would likely have been the same if Bliss had continued working for the town and thus should not be deducted from the amount he is owed.

Town Administrator Mark Andrews said he could not comment on the subject because it is a “pending personnel matter.”

If you are a member of the Massachusetts Police Association Legal Defense Fund and in need of an attorney to defend your rights, contact the Massachusetts legal defense attorneys at Reardon, Joyce, & Akerson for an initial consultation.

Reardon, Joyce & Akerson, PC
Massachusetts Police Defense Attorneys
4 Lancaster Terrace
Worcester, MA 01609

Telephone (508) 754-7285 • Fax (508) 754-7220