lawrence PD chief Roy Vasque

Lawrence Police Chief Roy Vasque 

LAWRENCE — A judge tossed part of a city police officer's potential "whistleblower" lawsuit in federal court, including allegations of overtime abuse by the police chief and a top detective. 

An amended complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Boston by Detective Kevin Schiavone accused Police Chief Roy Vasque and Detective Lt. Mark Ciccarelli, who leads the department's detectives, of lying about overtime they worked. He further accused Ciccarelli of falsifying city reimbursement slips and taking money from seized drug proceeds stored in a department safe.

When the lawsuit initially was filed in March, Schiavone, a 10-year police department veteran, said he was put on desk duty and retaliated against after he complained about Ciccarelli leaving his loaded, duty handgun within a child’s reach in the detective’s division in August 2018.

Then on June 28, an amended complaint containing the overtime and reimbursement allegations was filed in the case. In the amended complaint, Schiavone said he was also retaliated against for reporting illegal and improper department activities to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

Senior U.S. District Court Judge Rya Zobel issued an order Aug. 8 which only allows Schiavone to add a fraction of the amended complaint to his lawsuit.

Zobel's ruling means the claims regarding overtime abuse and reimbursement will not go forward as part of the suit. Zobel did allow two paragraphs "which assert (Schiavone) reported certain misconduct to the FBI and that his superiors found out about (Schiavone's) accusations against them," according to the ruling. 

"These events, if true, logically may have contributed to defendants' allegation of retaliation," Zobel added. 

Asked about the allegations the judge omitted, Schiavone's attorney Seldon Nason said Zobel's ruling "doesn't mean the judge doesn't believe these things did or didn't happen."

"They are just not pertinent to the case at hand," Nason said.  

Vasque declined comment for this story. Mayor Daniel Rivera also would not comment, saying he does to speak to ongoing litigation and personnel matters. 

The city previously filed a rebuttal to Schiavone's amended complaint, saying it contained "dubious allegations" of overtime abuse and other "elaborate and false" claims involving Vasque and Ciccarelli. 

Vasque became chief in January 2018.

Schiavone said he reported improper and illegal department activities to an agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation in February 2018, after which his relationships with Vasque and Ciccarelli “continued to deteriorate,” according to his lawsuit.

He also said a surveillance camera was installed in the police station to watch him.

Schiavone asked for legal support from his union, the Lawrence police patrolmen's union, but was denied, according to the suit.

The Lawrence Superior Officer's Association threw its "full support" behind Ciccarelli after The Eagle-Tribune first reported the lawsuit July 2. 

The Superior Officer's Union represents captains, lieutenants and sergeants in the police department.

Following Zobel's ruling, Nason on Thursday filed an amended complaint in Schiavone's case in federal court. The next court date has not been scheduled. 

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.