OIG Report: Leadership Failures Led to Excessive Salaries in the Methuen Police Department
On December 23, 2020, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a review of two Methuen Police Department contracts, finding a failure of leadership at all levels of city government. The contracts, approved in 2017 by then-Mayor Stephen Zanni and the Methuen City Council, included excessive raises for longtime Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon as well as the department’s sergeants, lieutenants and captains. The OIG found:
- Mayor Zanni agreed to unprecedented changes to the contract with the Methuen Police Superior Officers’ Association, New England Police Benevolent Association, Local 17 (the superiors’ union), without understanding their financial impact. Among other things, Mayor Zanni agreed to expand the definition of base pay in a way that would significantly increase the superior officers’ total compensation.
- The president of the superiors’ union, Captain Gregory Gallant, drafted the final contract and added language to which city officials had never agreed. Captain Gallant’s revisions included further expanding the definition of base pay and creating a formula designed to maximize the superior officers’ total compensation. These two changes gave the superior officers raises of 35% to 183%.
- Mayor Zanni signed the final contract without fully reviewing it personally or requesting a thorough review by the city solicitor or city auditor.
- Chief Solomon, who represented the city in contract negotiations with both the superiors’ union and the patrol officers’ union, knew about unapproved compensation language in the contracts but failed to alert his colleagues on the city’s negotiating team. The unapproved language indirectly — but substantially — increased Chief Solomon’s compensation.
- Mayor Zanni did not exercise due diligence or sound management practices when he negotiated Chief Solomon’s contract extension in 2017. The resulting contract made Chief Solomon one of the highest-paid police chiefs in the country, earning more than the Massachusetts State Police Colonel and the Boston Police Commissioner. Mayor Zanni also failed to include basic oversight provisions in the contract, and he agreed to provisions that make it both difficult and expensive to discipline or terminate Chief Solomon.
In its report, the OIG commended the current mayor, Neil Perry, for taking steps to improve oversight and governance in Methuen. The OIG recommended that Mayor Perry exercise due diligence in all contract negotiations, exercise strong oversight of all department heads, including Chief Solomon, and evaluate all available avenues of discipline against Chief Solomon and Captain Gallant.
After the OIG released this report, Chief Solomon was placed on administrative leave. He retired in January 2021.
Former Manager of Non-Profit Housing Agency Pleads Guilty
On December 22, 2020, Donna Scott, 52, of Vallejo, CA (formerly of Massachusetts), pleaded guilty in Suffolk Superior Court to a charge of larceny over $250 for embezzling more than $45,000 from her former employer.
A joint investigation by the OIG and the Attorney General’s Office found that Ms. Scott stole more than $45,000 in funds that were intended to provide transitional and permanent housing and support services to individuals and families experiencing homelessness. At the time, Ms. Scott was a manager at Heading Home, Inc., which is partially funded by grants from the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development.
Ms. Scott was sentenced to three years of probation, including one year of home confinement, and ordered to pay restitution of $45,132.59 to Heading Home, Inc.
OIG’s ISAU Review of an Eastham Chapter 90 Roadway Project Leads to Reimbursement
On December 22, 2020, the OIG’s Internal Special Audit Unit (ISAU) published a letter reviewing the town of Eastham’s oversight of a road project funded through the state’s Chapter 90 program. The ISAU found that, as the result of lax oversight, the town overpaid the contractor $13,672. Town officials took action to recover the overpayment and then worked with the state to ensure that the reimbursed funds are applied to a future Chapter 90 project. Following its review, the ISAU recommended enhanced contract administration and vendor oversight policies to ensure that the town only pays for materials and services that it receives.
The OIG commends the town for conducting an internal investigation and making staff changes following the incident, including hiring a new superintendent of public works and natural resources who is a Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Official.
Former Director of the State’s Print Shop Enters Plea on Charges of Receiving Unwarranted Privileges
On December 18, 2020, a state trooper assigned to the Attorney General’s Office took out a complaint in the Boston Municipal Court against Glenn Kendall, 55, of Lowell for two counts of receiving unwarranted privileges.
Mr. Kendall worked at Commonwealth Print Services (CPS) from 2005 through 2018, the last seven years as its director. CPS is a state-owned copy and print shop located at One Ashburton Place in Boston that provides print services to state agencies as well as private customers. In addition, Mr. Kendall owned KenCo Printing (KenCo), a private print shop in Medford.
A joint investigation by the OIG and the Attorney General’s Office found evidence that, in 2017 and 2018, Mr. Kendall used CPS computers, copiers and other equipment to produce jobs for his private KenCo customers. KenCo invoiced its customers more than $20,000 for these jobs, which comprised more than 100,000 pages of print.
On December 21, 2020, Mr. Kendall admitted to sufficient facts to warrant a guilty finding on the charges against him. The case has been continued without a finding, subject to Mr. Kendall completing three years’ probation and paying $20,000 in restitution.
Fall River Co-Defendant Pleads Guilty
On December 14, 2020, former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia’s chief of staff pleaded guilty to charges of extortion, bribery and making false statements. Genoveva Andrade, 49, of Somerset, admitted to conspiring with Correia to extort $150,000 in cash from a marijuana vendor as well as other benefits from a second business owner. Andrade also admitted to kicking back half her city salary to Correia for the first nine months of her employment as his chief of staff. Andrade is scheduled for sentencing on April 27, 2021, in federal district court. A joint effort by federal and state agencies, including the OIG, resulted in the indictment of Andrade, Correia and three others by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in September 2019.
OIG Finds Self-Dealing and Pay Discrepancies by Former Director of Hingham Housing Authority
On December 4, 2020, the OIG issued a public letter finding that Sharon Napier, the former executive director of the Hingham Housing Authority (HHA), promoted her own interests over the HHA’s by hiring a vendor with whom she had a personal and financial relationship. This conduct was also investigated by the State Ethics Commission, resulting in Ms. Napier paying a $2,500 fine in 2018.
The OIG determined that the former HHA Board paid Ms. Napier’s legal bills during the State Ethics Commission investigation, which it should not have done. Moreover, the OIG found inconsistencies in the documentation that Ms. Napier submitted for $3,551.20 in “special pay,” which resulted in her paycheck being $2,496.94 higher than normal the same week that she paid the $2,500 fine to the State Ethics Commission.
The OIG also reviewed the HHA Board’s oversight of Ms. Napier. Since Ms. Napier left the HHA, its board has taken steps to improve its governance structures and operations. The OIG provided several recommendations to the board to enhance its oversight. For more information, see this issue's article on the oversight responsibilities of public boards and commissions.
New OIG Fraud Reporting Form
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|Date published:||February 25, 2021|