State Orders Haverhill to Turn Over ‘Without Delay’ Secret DPW Report for Review

Haverhill Public Works Department, 500 Primrose St. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill Department of Public Works, 500 Primrose St. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill was ordered Wednesday to immediately turn over to the state a clean copy of a secret police investigation of the Department of Public Works.

Rebecca S. Murray, the state’s supervisor of public records, issued the written order in response to WHAV’s Dec. 21 appeal of the city’s refusal to release the report. Her office will now determine if the city is legally withholding the document the radio station has twice requested since Oct. 29. She wrote her office will investigate whether the city’s claims for “withholding the record in its entirety” are justified.

“The (Police) Department is ordered to provide this office with an unredacted copy of the responsive record at issue without delay. The Department may provide this office with an explanation of its position regarding the applicability of an exemption to the responsive records,” wrote Murray, who works within Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin’s office.

Purportedly based on an anonymous letter sent to the city, the police investigation is said to be part of a larger accounting that led to the arrests of two highway department employees and a former DPW employee on drug-related charges at the end of August.

Murray said the city’s report will be subject to what is called an “in-camera review”—or private inspection. In issuing the order, Murray quoted WHAV. “Generally, WHAV disputes the overly broad application of the exemptions cited. With two arrests having already taken place, disclosure is required to ensure public confidence in the government.” She also quoted WHAV’s contention that “Surely, there is at least some information that can be released that does not constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

Just before Christmas, the city’s outside lawyer, Michele E. Randazzo, for the first time admitted to WHAV the existence of what she described as “a report prepared by the Police Department as a result of an administrative investigation.” Randazzo, however, refused to detail any findings or actions it plans to take. WHAV has since learned nearly 20 current and former city employees were interviewed by police during the course of the investigation.

Randazzo said, “the report contains details about the efforts made by police to investigate certain criminal allegations, including undercover activities and identification of other specific actions taken by police to investigate these allegations. However, she told WHAV, “The nature and extent of administrative action to be taken in light of the information contained in the requested report, is still under consideration by the city.”

Last August, Haverhill Police arrested DPW employees Steven Allen, of 713 North Broadway, and Erik Frasca, of 23 Verndale St., along with former city worker Kevin Moriarty, of 107 Chadwick Road, after what police said was an alleged “hand-to-hand drug transaction” outside City Hall.

Besides the arrests, Randazzo said, the investigation involves “non-criminal” allegations.