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April 26, 2013

Fire lieutenant's 2009 drunk-driving conviction in NH went unreported

Garrity, a Haverhill resident, now charged with second DWI, pot possession

METHUEN — City firefighter James Garrity was convicted in 2009 on a drunk driving charge out of New Hampshire, but the incident apparently went unreported at both City Hall and the Methuen Fire Department.

Mayor Stephen Zanni said yesterday that no record of Garrity’s 2009 arrest, conviction or any resulting workplace discipline is on file with the Fire Department or the city’s Human Resources Department.

“They have no records of it,” said Zanni. “Apparently it went unreported.”

Garrity, 48, of Haverhill, who was promoted to lieutenant in February, is now facing a second drunk driving offense after he was arrested St. Patrick’s Day night in Plaistow, N.H. Court paperwork shows Garrity was pulled over after travelling 66 mph in a 35 mph zone. In addition to DWI (second offense), he was also charged that night with marijuana possession and speeding.

Garrity spent the week following his arrest on paid vacation. The incident then landed him one week of paid administrative leave. Garrity returned to work March 30 at the Central Fire Station, though Zanni said he isn’t allowed to drive Fire Department vehicles.

Garrity could face additional discipline following a pretrial conference next month, Zanni said.

Garrity began working for the city in July 1993. His driving record, obtained from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, indicates he was charged with driving while intoxicated alcohol/drugs in New Hampshire in early 2009.

A conviction in Candia District Court followed that March, according to court paperwork filed after his recent arrest.

Garrity’s license was revoked as a result of the 2009 conviction, though it’s unclear for how long, according to his driving record. A RMV spokesman could not be reached yesterday to offer clarification.

Zanni, who became mayor in 2012 but served as a city councilor for six years prior, said he did not learn of Garrity’s March 2009 conviction until yesterday. He also noted that fire Chief Steven Buote did not take over for former chief Clifford Gallant until June 2009.

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