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March 1, 2013

Police chief fired after independent investigation

Selectmen cite results of independent investigation

ATKINSON — Just one day after longtime police Chief Philip Consentino announced he would be retiring, selectmen voted to fire him, citing the results of an independent investigation.

Selectmen voted unanimously in a nonpublic meeting Wednesday night to fire Consentino, 72, as police chief and elderly affairs director.

“The termination is effective immediately,” Town Administrator Bill Innes wrote. “Mr. Consentino is no longer a town employee.”

Consentino, who had been with the department for 45 years, announced in an email Tuesday night that he would be retiring April 2, citing health reasons.

He was not asked to attend the meeting Wednesday.

Selectmen made the decision to fire the chief after reviewing the results of an investigation into a personnel matter, they said in their statement.

Consentino was put on paid administrative leave from both positions Feb. 5, pending an investigation by an independent consulting firm, selectmen said.

After the board reviewed that firm’s report, selectmen decided it was “appropriate” to fire Consentino, according to the statement.

“Whereas the subject matter related to Mr. Consentino’s termination relates to his employment,” they wrote, “it is confidential and will be kept confidential.”

Only one of the three selectmen returned phone messages yesterday.

“This decision was taken really seriously,” Selectman Todd Barbera said. “This is not something we take lightly.”

Neither Innes nor Barbera would comment on the circumstances that led to Consentino’s firing.

Mark Giarrusso, Consentino’s attorney, said yesterday it was not a criminal issue, but would not elaborate further.

“We haven’t gotten anything official in writing,” Giarrusso said. “We have to find out why they are doing this and we will take it from there.”

Phone calls to Consentino yesterday were not returned.

Selectmen named Sgt. Patrick Caggiano as acting police chief. Innes will serve as acting director of elderly affairs.

Caggiano said the department did not wish to comment on the situation.

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