By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — A Haverhill police officer who was demoted in 2004 and nearly lost his job is being held without bail on charges of stalking his estranged wife and the man she is dating.
Patrolman Victor “Manny” Pellot was arrested by state police Wednesday night after he allegedly chased the couple through the city in his personal vehicle, confronting them at one point, and then continuing the chasing on Interstate 495.
Pellot’s wife and the man she is dating told a state police investigator that at one point during the chase, Pellot stopped his car in front of their car on Main Street, blocking them in. They said Pellot then walked to the side of their vehicle and punched the side view mirror, while yelling at his wife.
The chase continued onto I-495 south, police said. After the couple called 911 to report they were victims of “road rage,” a state trooper told them to drive to the Methuen Police Department to report what had happened, police said.
Pellot, 50, of Haverhill was arraigned on two counts of stalking yesterday in Newburyport District Court, where he pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Assistant District Attorney Nathaniel Sears asked Judge Peter Doyle to hold Pellot until a hearing on Monday where a judge will decide whether he should continue to be held as a danger to society or be released pending a probable cause hearing.
Pellot’s lawyer, Douglas Louison of Boston, objected. He said there were conditions of release that would ensure the safety of the public.
Louison said Pellot surrendered his gun and his police identification to Haverhill police Wednesday night, and that his father would turn in his license to carry a firearm to Haverhill police following yesterday’s hearing. Pellot’s parents and his brother were in the courtroom yesterday.
“He is a Haverhill police officer with a 29-year unblemished record,” Louison said, noting Pellot’s wife declined taking out a restraining order against him.
In fact, Pellot was demoted to patrolman and suspended for a year in 2004 by Mayor James Fiorentini after police Chief Alan DeNaro sought to fire Pellot for being present in uniform in 2002 and 2003 during illegal drug sales at his cousin’s house.
Pellot returned to work as a patrolman in September 2005. In June 2007 the Civil Service Commission began hearings on appeal of his suspension. Pellot asked the commission to reinstate his sergeant’s rank and return back pay lost because of the mayor’s 2004 decision to suspend him for a year and demote him. Pellot said previously he knew nothing of the drug deals at his cousin’s home and was there only to keep an eye on a troubled family member. In May 2008 the commission upheld Pellot’s suspension and demotion.
Yesterday, the judge ordered Pellot held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing Monday. The judge also issued Pellot a 60-day warning, meaning if he gets in trouble with the law while his case is pending, he can be held up to 60 days without bail. Doyle also ordered Pellot to stay away from his wife and the man she is dating.
“Holding him for three days seems extraordinary,” Louison said.
Following the hearing, Louison told The Eagle-Tribune that charges against a police officer are routinely heard before a judge in a court other than the one officers usually appear in as part of their job. He was referring to the case being heard in Newburyport court. Louison said Pellot was placed on administrative leave by the Haverhill Police Department as of Wednesday night.
David Van Dam, Mayor James Fiorentini’s chief of staff, said Pellot has been suspended without pay pending the disposition of his court case.
According to a police report, Pellot and his wife of 24 years have been separated since September 2011 and are in the process of divorcing.
During an interview conducted at the Methuen Police Station, Pellot’s wife told State Police Lt. Paul Zipper that she began dating a Merrimack, N.H., man in July of last year and that since then Pellot confronted them four times.
She said that in once instance, the man dropped her off at her job in North Andover and Pellot suddenly appeared and began yelling at her. In another instance, she said she was being dropped off at her home in Haverhill after a date when Pellot pulled up behind their car. She said they drove to the Haverhill Police Station and Pellot followed them. She said that when they got to the station, Pellot approached their car and yelled at them.
“At this time, an unidentified Haverhill police officer intervened and pulled Manny away from the vehicle as he was attempting to get at (the boyfriend) who had locked his vehicle,” Zipper wrote in his report.
The latest incident occurred Wednesday about 6 p.m., when Pellot allegedly chased the couple through Haverhill and onto the highway, ending when the couple drove to the Methuen Police Station to report what happened.
Zipper wrote in his report that Pellot also sent harassing text messages, made phone calls to both individuals and left several threatening voice mails, including one to his wife in December in which he said, “I am going to kill you.”
Victor Pellot was questioned at the Haverhill Police Station Wednesday night and then arrested on the stalking charge. He was taken to the Newbury State Police Barracks, where he was fingerprinted, photographed and processed without incident, according to Zipper’s report. Pellot was held on $10,000 cash bail pending his arraignment yesterday in Newburyport District Court.
Pellot has been commended several times during a career that began in 1985. He is credited with running into a burning building on Winona Avenue in January 2000 and saving the life of an 83-year-old woman. He also was part of a team of officers that ended two armed standoffs without firing their guns. He was promoted to sergeant in 1999, becoming the city’s first Hispanic superior officer.