EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

May 18, 2013

Private law firm makes pitch of services to Methuen council

No date set for City Solicitor McQuillan's departure


Kannan told the firm representatives that she’s heard good things about them. “You came highly recommended to us,” said Kannan.

The search for a new solicitor stalled April 1 following a series of controversies and has yet to pick up again.

Fountain announced May 6 that McQuillan would step down as solicitor. No formal departure date has been made public.

“We just haven’t come up with a set date,” said Fountain on Thursday. “My hope is to have something in place for next week.”

McQuillan could not be reached for comment for this story.

McQuillan’s departure will end months of controversy that began Jan. 7, when councilors voted against reappointing him to a two-year term. McQuillan has retained his job as Methuen’s top lawyer as the council worked to find a replacement, but the search to find a successor was hampered by numerous problems, including a Feb. 6 meeting held in violation of the state Open Meeting Law.

Between six and eight solicitor candidates were interviewed at the secret meeting. Two of four finalists for the job then dropped out of the running within days of their names being made public on Feb. 26.

One month later, on March 26, McQuillan sent a text message to solicitor finalist Richard D’Agostino while D’Agostino was interviewing for the job with the City Council. News of the text message to D’Agostino prompted calls for an investigation by Councilor Tom Ciulla. The Eagle-Tribune also requested and obtained McQuillan’s phone and email records, but not before McQuillan reviewed and redacted them.

A motion to appoint D’Agostino to a two-year term as solicitor was defeated 5 to 4 on April 1.

The city eventually turned over an unredacted copy of McQuillan’s cell and office phone records, and his municipal emails.

The Eagle-Tribune discovered that McQuillan twice called one of D’Agostino’s professional references, Andrew Gradzewicz, from his office phone days before Gradzewicz unexpectedly pulled his reference. Gradzewicz was also the subject of the text message McQuillan sent to D’Agostino March 26.

Additionally, McQuillan had a list of questions aimed at D’Agostino in his emails, a list he emailed to himself days before D’Agostino’s interview with the City Council.

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