EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 20, 2008

Fake plaques sent to Lawrence police for being 'corrupt'; Police investigating and federal charges could be sought

By Jill Harmacinski

LAWRENCE — They were real looking enough. Three wooden plaques each embossed with a gold police shield, a small gun piece and each engraved with an officer's name.

But these "plaques" sent to the police department Sunday were no awards. They came from a bogus address in Puerto Rico, supposedly sent from a former assistant district attorney and were in recognition for the officers being "corrupt." They were dated "9-11-2007."

As first reported on The Eagle-Tribune's Web site eagletribune.com yesterday, police Chief John Romero has launched an investigation into who sent the packages. He said police are contemplating criminal charges, possibly at the federal level. Police yesterday dusted the plaques for fingerprints. Romero was one of the recipients of the so-called award.

Lawrence police also notified the postal inspector in Boston. The sender could face federal charges for using the U.S. Postal Service "to threaten, harass or intimidate," Romero said.

Romero said detectives have a suspect in mind "based on similar harassing correspondence" he has received, but declined to identify the person.

It's not uncommon for the Police Department to receive disparaging or critical letters along with notes of kudos and praise. But Romero said he's never received a plaque of this nature.

"It seems this individual went to great lengths and expense to do this. That, in itself, is disturbing," Romero said.

Whoever made up the plaques and shipped them went to considerable expense, Romero said. The plaques probably cost $200 apiece to make and the shipping total was $75.