EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 8, 2013

Haverhill cop fired for stalking

Victor Pellot is also under investigation for misusing police databases to harass estranged wife's boyfriend

By Shawn Regan
sregan@eagletribune.com

---- — HAVERHILL — Police officer Victor “Manny” Pellot has been fired for stalking and harassing his estranged wife and her boyfriend and misusing police resources and databases to search the boyfriend’s background and history.

Mayor James Fiorentini said Pellot was notified of his decision Tuesday. It followed a local Civil Service hearing that concluded last month on police Chief Alan DeNaro’s recommendation to terminate the officer’s employment.

Pellot, 50, previously served a year-long suspension and was demoted from sergeant to patrolman in 2004 after he was found to have been present while on duty in 2002 and 2003 during illegal cocaine sales at his cousin’s house in Haverhill. He had been a member of the Haverhill department since 1983.

DeNaro’s recommendation to fire Pellot was the result of an internal Haverhill police investigation triggered by Pellot’s Feb. 27 arrest by state police on criminal stalking and threatening charges. The charges stem from an incident in which Pellot allegedly chased his wife, Doreena, and her boyfriend, Thomas Ratte of Merrimack, N.H., through Haverhill in his personal vehicle, confronting them at one point, and then continuing the chase on Interstate 495.

Pellot has pleaded not guilty to two counts of stalking and the criminal case is ongoing.

Neither the patrolman’s union nor Pellot’s union lawyer, Stephen Pfaff of Boston, returned phone calls or e-mails seeking comment for this story. Pellot has 10 days to appeal his termination to the state Civil Service Commission, according to the mayor’s July 1 ruling.

A report by City Solicitor William Cox, who served as hearing officer in the case, documents four instances in which Pellot aggressively confronted his wife and Ratte, including one in which he threatened to kill Doreena Pellot.

“Officer Pellot willfully and maliciously engaged in a knowing pattern of conduct and an additional series of phone calls, voice mails and texts over a seven-month period that were directed at Thomas Ratte and Doreena Pellot,” according to a separate report by state trooper Lt. Paul Zipper. “The conduct seriously alarmed, annoyed and put Mr. Ratte and Ms. Pellot in substantial emotional distress.”

The state police report said the Pellots separated in September 2011 after 24 years of marriage and that Dorrena Pellot and Ratte began dating on July 7, 2012.

According the Cox’s report, the first incident occurred Sept. 21, 2012 at Ratte’s house in Merrimack, N.H.

A second incident took place on Sept. 15, 2012 when Pellot “suddenly appeared and confronted Ms. Pellot screaming at her as Ratte dropped her off at her job in North Andover,” the report said. Pellot then chased Ratte in his vehicle on Interstate 495 while calling him on his phone and leaving profanity-laced messages.

A third incident on Nov. 7, 2012 began near Dorreena Pellot’s home and ended at the Haverhill police station after the couple drove there with Pellot aggressively in pursuit, the report said. Pellot followed the couple’s vehicles to the back of the police station, then got out of his car and began screaming at the couple and “attempting to get to Ratte, who had locked himself in his vehicle,” the report said.

Haverhill officer Eric Mackinnnon responded to the back of the station as a result of a 9-1-1 call the couple made to state police while trying to flee from Pellot. Mackinnon said Pellot was “visibly angry, yelling and swearing at Ratte” and that Mackinnon had to “physically separate (Pellot) and guide him into the station.”

The final incident is the one that led to the Pellot’s arrest by state police on Feb. 27 of this year. While Pellot chased the couple on the highway, the officer sent Doreena Pellot and Ratte profanity-laden messages that stated, among other threats, that he was going to kill Doreena Pellot,” Cox’s report said.

After Pellot’s arrest, the police department began its own investigation and learned that Pellot had been misusing department resources to harass and stalk the couple, the report said. The report details several instances in which Pellot searched the state’s Criminal Justice Information System to dig into Ratte’s past. Two Haverhill officers said they were asked by Pellot while they were on duty to use the police computer to attempt to get Ratte’s work, criminal and automobile history. DeNaro testified at the hearing that the state police are conducting their own investigation into Pellot’s alleged misuse of the state’s crime database, Cox’s report said.

Pellot is cited in Cox’s report with multiple violations of police rules, regulations and ethics, as well as misusing the police criminal history database, conduct unbecoming an officer, neglect of duty and unsatisfactory job performance.

“There is no room for the conduct exhibited by Officer Pellot,” Cox wrote. “He is a sworn officer of the law charged with the responsibility to serve and protect the public. In one incident, Mr. Ratte and Doreena Pellot sought the safety and protection of the Haverhill Police Department, only to be followed there by Pellot, who continued his abuse of them and had to be physically removed into the station by another officer.”

The report said Pellot served two, five-day suspensions related to the allegations against him, prior to his termination. It also said Pellot declined to answer any questions at the Civil Service hearing by exercising his Fifth Amendment rights.

DeNaro sought to fire Pellot in 2004 after the officer was found to have been present while on duty and in uniform with his police cruiser in 2002 and 2003 during illegal cocaine sales at his cousin’s house in Haverhill. Instead, Fiorentini demoted then-Sgt. Pellot and suspended him for a year. Pellot returned to work as a patrolman in September 2005.

Following Pellot’s Feb. 28 arraignment on the stalking charges, he was suspended without pay from his police job and ordered to surrender his police gun and a private gun. He also was ordered not to leave the state and to wear a bracelet that tracks his location.