EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 23, 2012

Report: Ex-trooper smelled of alcohol, had trouble standing

By Shawn Regan
sregan@eagletribune.com

CLICK HERE to read the police reports on the incident.

HAVERHILL — Newly obtained police reports show former state trooper Charles Noyes smelled of alcohol, could not maintain his balance, and had no memory of slamming his Cadillac Escalade into a utility pole in West Newbury March 30 before driving into Haverhill with his air bags deployed.

But Haverhill police did not arrest the 62-year-old highly decorated trooper or charge him with drunken driving after his mangled luxury SUV was found in the travel lane on Amesbury Line Road within minutes of the West Newbury accident — and Haverhill officials are still refusing to say why.

"This investigation will be completed when I feel that we have done everything necessary to obtain all the relevant facts regarding this incident," Haverhill Public Safety Commissioner Alan DeNaro said in an e-mail to an Eagle-Tribune reporter yesterday. "We will not be rushed to accommodate your mandated time table."

The police reports that referred to Noyes smelling of alcohol and gave other details of his condition were written by West Newbury police officers Daniel Cena and Royster Johnson, who responded to the 10:24 p.m. crash.

The Eagle-Tribune obtained the reports from Newburyport District Court, where they are on file.

When asked yesterday to comment on the West Newbury police reports, Noyes' lawyer Randy Chapman said a Haverhill police report exists that indicates a Haverhill patrolman did not detect an odor of alcohol or that Noyes was unsteady on his feet. The patrolman's street supervisor also did not make observations of an odor of alcohol or of any unsteadiness, Chapman said.

"It appears to me based on all the evidence that there was no reason to ask him to perform any field sobriety tests," Chapman said.

Chapman said Noyes was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where he was evaluated and found not to be under the influence of alcohol. Chapman said there was no blood alcohol test involved.

"The doctors said he appeared fine,'' Chapman said. "I think it's incredibly unfair to assassinate Mr. Noyes' character based on rumor and innuendo. He is a man of immense character, who's had a sterling career in law enforcement."

In their reports, The West Newbury officers said they found a utility pole had been snapped about eight inches off the ground and fell into two large pieces across Main Street and wires had been pulled from nearby houses. A pole with a caution yellow light about 15 feet beyond the utility pole had also been hit.

"The pole, which was mounted on a cast iron base and sunk into the ground, was broken off cleanly and landed in the roadway approximately 50 feet west of its original position," Johnson wrote in his report.

Following a fresh line of "some sort of automotive fluid down Main Street" into Haverhill, the officers found a man in a white Escalade parked in the travel lane at the intersection of East Broadway and Amesbury Line Road, according to the police reports. Behind the wheel was Noyes, who retired in 2006 with the second-highest rank in the state police.

In his report, Cena said he detected a "strong odor of alcohol" on Noyes' breath and that Noyes had "extreme difficulty maintaining his balance." Cena said he asked Noyes why he didn't stop after the accident in West Newbury.

"The male (Noyes) replied that he didn't know that he had gotten into an accident despite the extensive front end damage of the vehicle," Cena wrote.

Haverhill police and firefighters and an ambulance were called to the scene. In his report, Cena said he informed the Haverhill officer and sergeant who responded about the accident in West Newbury and Noyes' "level of intoxication." Cena then "allowed Haverhill Police to continue evaluating Noyes and wait for the tow truck and I cleared the scene," Cena wrote in his report.

According to the West Newbury Police reports, Haverhill then took charge of the investigation — and that's where Haverhill's silence begins.

DeNaro previously told The Eagle-Tribune that he is "taking this investigation very seriously and once completed our results will be available." He said it will be up to Mayor James Fiorentini to determine what do with the results of the internal investigation.

Yesterday, Fiorentini would not answer any questions about the matter.

The Haverhill sergeant who arrived to take charge of the scene is not identified in the West Newbury police reports and DeNaro did not respond to requests to identify that officer. A Haverhill police incident report on the case, which has been previously reported, says Patrolman Christopher Pagliuca was the reporting officer and Lt. William Leeman was the approving officer.

West Newbury police filed an application for criminal charges with Newburyport District Court seeking to cite Noyes in the crash. A Newburyport District Court judge disposed of that case against Noyes two weeks ago, after Noyes admitted that prosecutors had sufficient evidence to find him guilty of negligent driving and leaving the scene of an accident that caused property damage.

Judge Matthew Nestor placed Noyes on unsupervised probation for six months and ruled that the criminal charges are to be dropped after that time if Noyes stays out of trouble. Noyes was also ordered to reimburse the utility company for the cost of the pole that was destroyed in the accident. The deal followed a closed-door hearing at which West Newbury police presented its case against Noyes to a court magistrate.

According to a court official, no audio tapes or written record was kept of the clerk magistrate's hearing. Prior to Noyes' arraignment, Newburyport court officials had declined to provide any information on the case or confirm whether charges had been filed there against Noyes.

In late April, the Essex District Attorney's Office said the case had been transferred to the Worcester District Attorney's Office to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Chapman said West Newbury police mailed Noyes a citation for operating to endanger and leaving the scene of an accident. These are not offenses for which drivers can be arrested, Chapman said.

Chapman said there was a clerk's hearing behind closed doors in Newburyport court, but that practice is standard when a person is cited for a criminal offense or civil motor vehicle infraction. Chapman said an arraignment date was scheduled, Noyes was summonsed, he appeared and admitted to sufficient facts at a proceeding in open court a week or so after the clerk's hearing.

Chapman said Noyes was ordered to pay restitution, and that his insurance company has made full restitution.

The Eagle-Tribune has also requested copies of police reports generated by Haverhill police and information about a handgun police found in Noyes' vehicle, including who it belonged to, whether it was registered and what happened to it.

An arrest log report generated by Pagliuca, the Haverhill officer, states police found a loaded Smith & Wesson semi-automatic handgun and holster inside Noyes' Cadillac SUV. Police have so far declined to say whether the handgun belonged to Noyes or whether it was confiscated by police.

• • •

Join the discussion. To comment on stories and see what others are saying, log on to eagletribune.com.