HAVERHILL — Three city police officers accused of dishonesty and breaking department rules in their handling of car crashes involving retired state troopers opted for a secret hearing yesterday to defend themselves.
The officers — Sgt. Harry Miller, Lt. William Leeman and patrolman Christopher Pagliuca — also declined comment on the matter through their attorneys. The hearing was in City Hall. It began June 19, but was continued yesterday. Both sessions have been behind closed doors, an option chosen by the officers.
Prior to the hearing, City Solicitor William Cox said the city would agree to open the hearing if that’s what the officers wanted. They have been disciplined by police Chief Alan DeNaro for their handling of the high-ranking former troopers’ crashes, and also face the possibility of further punishment from Mayor James Fiorentini.
DeNaro suspended Miller, Leeman and Pagliuca without pay for five days for their roles in the handling of a March crash involving Charles Noyes of Haverhill, former deputy superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police. The officers were cited for writing untruthful or incomplete reports, unsatisfactory job performance and violating police ethics. Essentially, they are accused of giving special treatment to Noyes.
Miller was suspended for an additional five days for what officials called his questionable investigation of a 2005 crash involving former state trooper Paul Regan of Rowley, who retired from the state police in 2003 as a lieutenant colonel.
DeNaro has also recommended additional unspecified punishment for Leeman and Miller. The most severe punishment the chief can order on his own is a five-day suspension. It is up to Mayor James Fiorentini to impose more severe sanctions, including firing or demoting either or both officers.
The officers appealed the suspensions and the additional punishment recommended by DeNaro under Civil Service rules, which triggered the hearing.
Lawyers for two of the officers, Stephen Pfaff and Joseph Padolsky of the Boston firm Louison, Costello, Condon & Pfaff, told a reporter they might comment after the hearing, but neither could be reached later.