Mayor-elect's final push for widow's benefit on Beacon Hill - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Mayor-elect's final push for widow's benefit on Beacon Hill

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The widow of a Boston police officer who doctors say died from a disease he contracted on the job has a lot of people on her side as she fights for his death benefits, from Boston Mayor Tom Menino to Gov. Deval Patrick.

But a bill that would give her accidental death benefits has never made it through the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where the bill's champion, state Rep. Marty Walsh, has never been able to get a vote on it.

Now, the widow and her family are hoping Walsh's mayoral clout will make the difference.

"Mrs. Shaw deserves this. This is her right," Walsh told FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet.

Mrs. Shaw is Maura Shaw, the widow of Boston Police Officer Kenneth Shaw, who died from hepatitis C in 1998.

Officer Shaw worked in the identification unit, responding to bloody crime scenes. Doctors believe he contracted hepatitis C on the job.

One doctor wrote, "his only risk factors were exposure to blood as a policeman at work. In particular, there was no history of intravenous drug use or blood product transfusion".

The Boston Retirement Board, approved the application for benefits in 2001, but the state would not sign off because Shaw could not identify the exact person who gave her husband the disease.

FOX Undercover first introduced you to the Shaw family in 2011.

"My father never cheated anybody in his life. Why would he lie to get money? To provide for his family? It's not him. He wouldn't do that," son Kevin Shaw said at the time.

It's been especially tough for the Shaws seeing their mother lose her home, unable to pay the mortgage.

"I have had to sell my diamond ring that he gave me. We lost our house but because of the generosity of one of our neighbors who bought it back, we can live there," Maura Shaw said.

Maura Shaw, who's now battling breast cancer, has testified on Beacon Hill repeatedly along with her daughter in support of two different bills that would give her the death benefits. They most recently testified last month.

"We lost everything when we lost him," daughter Stephanie Frye told a legislative committee. "Everything. My mother lost her best friend and I lost my father. He didn't get to walk me down the aisle. He didn't get to see my kids born."

Outside of the hearing, Maura Shaw said the process has been incredibly frustrating.

"It has been a long time. And it's something to me that's more or less black and white. And I just don't understand what's taking so long," she said.

But mayor-elect Walsh is hoping to put an end to the delay.

"I'd love to get it done before I leave," he told FOX Undercover.

Walsh plans to meet with House Speaker Robert DeLeo on the bill. A spokesman for DeLeo wouldn't tell FOX Undercover whether he's in favor of the bill or not.

Last year, FOX Undercover asked DeLeo whether he was stalling the bill's progress.

"The family is concerned that you're holding this up?" Beaudet asked him.

"Oh no," DeLeo replied. "I'm not moving it. I'm not holding it up. I'm doing neither, it's just going through the process."

"Do you support it?" Beaudet asked.

"I don't know enough about it," DeLeo replied

DeLeo and Walsh have had a frosty relationship at times. But things are different now. The Speaker even cracked jokes about Walsh the night of his big win.

"I tell you I'm so happy this election is over. I'm really tired of being the opening act for Marty Walsh," DeLeo told the election –eve crowd.

Walsh said there were some concerns that the bill for the Shaw family would set an expensive precedent for the state.

"Some people thought Speaker DeLeo may have been an obstacle to getting this done. You two seem pretty chummy right now," Beaudet asked Walsh.

"I think the Speaker's concerns around this and leadership's concerns around this is the fact it's setting precedent," Walsh said.

"Do you think it sets a precedent?" Beaudet asked.

"Absolutely not. I think it takes care of an issue. A loophole that happened here in this law, where the pension board voted to approve the pension for Mrs. Shaw, for the widow, for the loss of her husband in the line of duty. And I think it's something we have to work on," Walsh said.

"As mayor elect do you think you have the juice to get this done?" Beaudet asked.

"We'll find out," Walsh replied. "I just know that Mrs. Shaw and her daughter are great people. And it's just something I kind of have,as you have Michael, taken this issue on as an important issue for the family.

The Shaw family is looking for a little help from the public, asking people to call the Speaker's office and tell him they support the bill.

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