METHUEN — Former Superintendent Jeanne Whitten fired Eugene Casey in 2007 for working on an illegal gambling operation while on duty as a school custodian, but now a majority of civil service commissioners say Casey deserves his job back.
Casey, a former Comprehensive Grammar School janitor, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor offense of using a telephone for gambling after state police busted a gambling ring that was handling up to $500,000 in wagers a week.
Casey received two years of probation and a $2,000 fine. Whitten fired him, and he appealed to the state Civil Service Commission to get his job back.
The commission voted 3-2 earlier this month to amend Casey's firing to a one-year suspension without pay.
"The appellant Casey did not plead guilty to a crime of moral turpitude or a crime that is considered to be malum in se or 'evil in itself,' but only to a crime that is malum prohibitum or 'prohibited evil,'" Commissioner Daniel Henderson, who heard the case, wrote in the decision.
"Indeed, the commission takes notice that the current governor, as well as a considerable body of the legislature and the public, have expressed interest in expanding, not reducing, the scope of gaming activities within the Commonwealth," Henderson added.
Henderson accepted Whitten's testimony that Casey conducted gambling business on the clock at his school job, but he said Whitten didn't prove she had just cause to fire Casey. Henderson said "there was no evidence that established whether he was on a break" when Casey took calls related to gambling, "nor was there evidence to establish that his calls interfered in any way with his custodial duties." Casey had no prior record of discipline at his job before the gambling case.
Henderson said Casey's gambling activity was secretive by nature and would not be noticed by most adults and was unlikely to be understood by students upon observation.