EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 28, 2013

Zanni: Discipline for fire lieutenant coming next week

Garrity pleaded guilty to DWI, pot possession

By Brian Messenger
bmessenger@eagletribune.com

---- — METHUEN — Mayor Stephen Zanni said he will hand down discipline next week for fire Lt. James Garrity, who recently pleaded guilty to drunken driving and marijuana possession.

Garrity, 48, of Haverhill, was arrested on St. Patrick’s Day in Plaistow, N.H. He had his license suspended for two years after pleading guilty Nov. 14 to driving while intoxicated (second offense) and marijuana possession in Plaistow District Court. Garrity was also fined $434 for the marijuana possession charge. A speeding charge was dismissed.

Garrity must enter an impaired driver program before getting his license back and will then be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in his vehicle.

Zanni said he will hand down discipline for Garrity next week. Before making a decision, the mayor said he will consider written recommendations from fire Chief Steven Buote and lawyers from the private firm Kopelman and Paige.

“There will be action taken,” said Zanni. “By next week, I’ll be making a decision on that.”

Garrity began working for the city in July 1993 and was promoted to lieutenant in February.

He was arrested March 17 in Plaistow and released on $1,000 bail. Garrity spent the week following his arrest on paid vacation. The incident then landed him one week of paid administrative leave — his last discipline to date.

Garrity returned to work March 30 at the Central Fire Station, though at the time Zanni said he wasn’t allowed to drive Fire Department vehicles. Zanni has said a city-ordered drug test following Garrity’s arrest turned up no signs of drugs in his system. Zanni originally said Garrity could face additional discipline following a pretrial conference in May.

Garrity was also convicted in 2009 on a drunk driving charge out of New Hampshire and had his license temporarily revoked as a result, but the arrest and conviction were never reported at City Hall and the Methuen Fire Department.

Garrity’s recent arrest occurred about one mile from the Massachusetts border at around 10:50 p.m. Police radar recorded his white 2011 Ford Econovan traveling 66 mph in a 35 mph zone, according to court paperwork.

Garrity was driving alone and heading southbound on Route 125 when he was pulled over. Garrity failed a number of field sobriety tests after the arresting officer noticed he had trouble answering her questions.

The officer searched Garrity’s vehicle and found a “small amount” of marijuana on the passenger-side floor, Plaistow deputy police Chief Kathleen Jones previously told The Eagle-Tribune.