EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 26, 2013

Officer accused of DWI crash resigns

By Dustin Luca

---- — ANDOVER — Evan Robitaille, an Andover police officer being investigated after an alleged hit-and-run, drunken driving accident in March, has resigned.

Robitaille, 32, is due in court on Jan. 9 as part of a hearing set to determine if probable cause exists to charge him with operating under the influence of liquor, leaving the scene of an accident causing property damage, negligent operation of a motor vehicle and failure to use care in starting, stopping, turning or backing up a motor vehicle.

Andover Police Chief Patrick Keefe “got a letter from him ... stating he is resigning effective today,” Commander Charles Heseltine said yesterday.

Robitaille has been on leave since the investigation into a March 11 accident began, Heseltine said. Initially, he was on paid administrative leave.

However, “as a result of the internal affairs investigation, on Oct. 18, Officer Robitaille was placed on administrative leave without pay,” Heseltine said.

Heseltine declined to comment on the reason for the change in Robitaille’s leave to one without pay, or what he was paid up to that point.

Heseltine also declined further comment on Robitaille’s resignation, saying he “can’t get into it because it’s a personnel matter.”

Robitaille’s attorney, Ted Cranney, couldn’t be reached for comment yesterday.

Stephanie Guyotte, spokeswoman for the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office, said she couldn’t comment on Robitaille’s case because “we have an investigation ongoing.”

Robitaille was one of two Andover police officers honored as officers of the year by the Exchange Club of Lawrence in January for their on-duty heroics over the previous year.

According to town employee salary data available through the website TownOfAndover.com, Robitaille was paid $72,125.43 in regular pay in 2012, with off-duty detail, overtime, retroactive pay and more bringing his total pay for the year to $117,873.85.

Robitaille is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 9 for a clerk magistrate’s hearing, originally scheduled for Sept. 6 and continued from last Friday, Nov. 22.

The hearing was rescheduled last week after Robitaille failed to “answer” and present himself when called for the hearing that morning, according to employees in the Lowell District Court clerk’s office.

Peter Caruso of Andover, the attorney for The Eagle-Tribune, has filed a motion to intervene in the court proceedings and open them to the public.

The motion argues that the case is “one of special public significance,” and “the legitimate interest of the public outweighs the right of privacy of the accused,” Caruso wrote in the motion.

Traditionally, clerk magistrate hearings on applications for criminal complaints are closed. Two parties in the case argue their positions, and the magistrate issues a decision to issue a criminal complaint or deny the application without it ever becoming public, according to Caruso.