EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 4, 2013

Prosecutors to search cop's phone records

By Brian Messenger
bmessenger@eagletribune.com

---- — HAVERHILL — Investigators will search the cell phone records of police Patrolman Victor “Manny” Pellot, his estranged wife and her boyfriend for evidence of threats made by Pellot prior to his February arrest on stalking charges.

State prosecutors obtained the phone records yesterday in Newburyport District Court.

During a brief hearing, Assistant District Attorney Michelle Belmonte told Judge Peter Doyle that state police will also use the phone records to investigate an “allegation of misuse of CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) information.”

Pellot, 50, was arrested by state police the night of Feb. 27, after he allegedly chased his estranged 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.

Prosecutors in late March requested a court order seeking “all phone records including subscriber information, and all incoming and outgoing phone calls/text messages” for four cell phone numbers between July 7, 2012, and Feb. 28, 2013.

Two of the numbers belong or belonged to Doreena Pellot and the others belong to Victor Pellot and Ratte.

“The Commonwealth seeks these cell phone records to establish that the defendant called, sent text messages and/or left voicemails of a threatening nature on Thomas Ratte’s and Doreena Pellot’s cellular phones,” reads a court motion.

Doreena Pellot began dating Ratte in July 2012, according to a police report. She has been married to Victor for 24 years, but the couple separated in September 2011 and are in the process of divorcing, according to the report.

Victor Pellot appeared in court yesterday with his lawyer, Gerard LaFlamme. Noting that the phone records would be shared with the state police, LaFlamme told Judge Doyle he does not want the records used for an internal investigation by the Haverhill Police Department.

Pellot is due to appear in court again June 28. He was placed on unpaid administrative leave following his arrest and will remain so for the duration of the case, David Van Dam, Mayor James Fiorentini’s chief of staff, said yesterday.

Pellot has surrendered his police service weapon and a private gun, as well as his license to carry a gun. He was released from custody five days after his arrest on condition that he wear an electronic monitoring device; stay at least 100 yards away from his wife and her boyfriend, with the exception of attending court proceedings, including divorce proceedings; that he seek counseling through the police department’s Employee Assistance Program; and that he not leave Massachusetts while his case is pending.

Doreena Pellot has said she intends to assert her marital privilege and not testify against her husband if called as a witness.

She and Ratte told police that at one point during the Feb. 27 chase, Victor Pellot stopped his car in front of their car on Main Street, blocking them from moving. They said Victor 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 happened, police said.

Prior incidents between Pellot, his wife and her boyfriend were detailed in a March court hearing. A prosecutor said Pellot followed them on several occasions and also confronted them, and that he left them angry, threatening and profanity-laced voice mail messages —including one in which Pellot said he would kill his wife — and that he also sent threatening text messages.

Pellot has been commended several times during a police 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.

But Pellot was demoted to patrolman and suspended for a year in 2004 by 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. Pellot appealed the discipline in an attempt reinstate his sergeant’s rank and receive back pay, but the state Civil Service Commission upheld his suspension and demotion in May 2008.