Methuen Officials Say They Can’t Explain Leak of Police Investigation Despite Apparent Gag Order

Former Methuen Police Chief Joseph E. Solomon. (Courtesy photograph.)

Methuen city officials are unable to explain how an outside consultant’s investigation of alleged police department wrongdoing was apparently leaked to a Boston newspaper despite a gag order.

WHAV reported back in January criticism leveled by the state Civil Service Commission regarding the hiring of a city councilor as a police officer. The Boston Globe is now adding information from what appears to be a leaked, city-paid investigation that suggests criminal charges be filed. The Globe further reported a former city councilor turned police officer was already arraigned. Methuen City Councilor and recent Acting Mayor David “D.J.” Beauregard, Council Chair Eunice D. Zeigler and City Councilor Jessica Finocchiaro all told WHAV the city solicitor advised members during a closed-door meeting Thursday night not to distribute that report.

“I don’t know how they got it,” Zeigler said of the Globe’s report. She added the city’s legal counsel told councilors “There is an order from the magistrate to not share the report.” She added, “I can’t wait for the day that we are allowed to share the report widely. The public needs to know.”

Beauregard expressed similar concerns, telling WHAV, “It’s extremely frustrating.”

WHAV management expressed the radio station’s concern about the lack of transparency by both the city and court.

The Civil Service Commission called the former Methuen police Chief Joseph E. Solomon’s use of a former city council chairman as a full-time police officer a “most brazen example of abuse which occurred (in plain sight)” of using non-civil service personnel in the department.

Further, commissioners said the former and other City officials from prior administrations knowingly submitted false information to the civil service unit of the state’s Human Resources Division” and “stonewalled requests for public records.”

That report said the appointment of Councilor Sean J. Fountain, a former North Andover firefighter, as an intermittent police officer was “improper” because he was not certified by the state’s Municipal Police Training Committee to serve as a full-time police officer, there is no evidence he completed a physical or medical examination, was over the city’s own age restriction of 35 at the time of appointment and resided outside of Methuen in violation of city policies.

The Boston Globe attributes the new, city-paid study to Lawrence Smith of the STIRM Group.

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