Red flags missed, State Police let problem officers fester - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Red flags missed, State Police let problem officers fester

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SPECIAL REPORT -- The headlines have come one after another in recent years, State Police officers in trouble with the law, charged with everything from extortion to drunk driving.
          
But a FOX Undercover investigation, based on documents obtained after a two-year public records battle, shows the public incidents that brought down some of these problem officers was far from the only time they were in trouble. Despite heavy redactions, these records show long histories of problematic, sometimes shocking behavior.
          
Here's State Police Trooper John Analetto, caught on an FBI hidden camera, bragging about what he's going to tell a bettor who owes him money by slashing his tires and sexually assaulting the bettor's mother.
          
"Why don't you get a good relationship with the tire center there and tell your mother that we're gonna (expletive) her (expletive). Ok, we're gonna stick a broomstick up your mother's (expletive)," Analetto said.
          
That and other conversations led to his being arrested and ultimately convicted on extortion charges. His 41-month sentence was a high-profile end to what records show was a career filled with serious accusations of misconduct.
          
"Trooper Analetto had hired escorts for himself and some friends and then assaulted them by pulling out a knife when they refused to have sex," one complaint went.
          
In another case he "threatened to 'plant' drugs on (a man) and then have (his) business 'raided.'"
          
He also "asked questions of a personal and seemingly suggestive nature" of a woman during a traffic stop, one of two similar complaints.
          
Analetto's career as trooper lasted 20 years before the FBI put an end to it. In that time, he racked up 23 internal affairs complaints.
          
Federal prosecutors also saw a pattern.
          
In a sentencing memorandum, a prosecutor wrote that, "the defendant's (internal affairs) file is replete with examples of his abusing his position and authority as a state trooper."
          
Analetto, prosecutors continued, "is much more than a bully with a badge - he is a criminal."
          
Howard Friedman, a civil rights attorney who specializes in police misconduct cases, reviewed part of Analetto's file at the request of FOX Undercover and said "no doubt" it should have raised a red flag.
          
"Anyone who looks at it would say that's unusual," Friedman said.
          
"When you've seen misconduct, what happens with these officers?" FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet asked him.
          
"In terms of internally, very little, often nothing. Even when there's a civil suit and a civil suit is successful, police officers are not disciplined," Friedman replied.
          
Former State Police Trooper David Lemar had 22 entries over a 24-year career, allegations including "excessive use of force", and another complaint he assaulted someone by "grabbing his neck and kicking his leg".
          
The end of his career came after his involvement with a spa owner indicted for running a prostitution ring.
          
"Were you going there for sexual favors?" Beaudet asked him in 2011.
          
"No, I was not," Lemar replied at the time. "It's shocking. It's like how did I get dragged into this, and unfortunately, the truth will eventually come out."
          
Lemar, who was fired by State Police, did not respond to a new request for comment.
          
Another State Police officer who made headlines was then-Captain Thomas McCarthy, who was forcibly arrested in 2011 after fleeing from Saugus police. The Saugus police report showed he had alcohol on his breath and beer bottles in his State Police vehicle.
          
His internal affairs file shows it wasn't the only time he was accused of mixing alcohol and police work. In 2000, someone he pulled over complained he had "alcohol on his breath." A State Police investigator wrote the allegation was "false."
          
Then in 2002, more allegations of drinking followed. He crashed into another motorist 4 a.m. in Reading. The other driver and his passenger both needed to be taken to the hospital.
          
A witness tells State Police he saw McCarthy possibly throwing beer cans out of his car and "was possibly operating under the influence of alcohol", records show.
          
The driver hit by McCarthy was later told that McCarthy ran from the scene. But the Reading police report doesn't even mention McCarthy's name.
          
A state police sergeant picked him up at the scene of the accident and drove him to the State Police barracks in Andover. The sergeant, Sharon Costine, said she "observed no characteristics of alcohol intake", records show.
          
But it was impossible to confirm. After being taken to the barracks, McCarthy got a ride and left without being interviewed or tested. He wasn't interviewed until the next week, and was ultimately given an ordinary traffic citation for failing to use care.
          
Neither McCarthy nor his lawyer responded to requests for comment.
          
State Police Colonel Timothy Alben took over the department in 2012, after the highest-profile officer misconduct cases had already landed in the headlines.
          
He said the State Police can "absolutely" investigate themselves but that sometimes his hands are tied.
          
"We have to deal with credibility issues sometimes of witnesses. We have to deal with evidentiary matters that are not necessarily ideal or the lack of cooperation sometimes from witnesses," Alben said.
          
"We look at Trooper Analetto, he was finally caught by the FBI, should the State Police have put a stop to him sooner?" Beaudet asked the Colonel.
          
"If we looked at the complaints that had come in about Analetto or any member of the department, we have to judge those on what I said to you before, about the credibility, about the level of evidence we have, the quality of evidence we have," Alben replied.
          
"I think it is a fair question, how did it get to that point?" Beaudet asked.
          
"I agree with you, I think it is a fair question and it's one of those questions that we've gone back to look at about not only him but individuals who could rise to that level in this department, that we can intervene in those situations much, much earlier," Alben replied.
          
Earlier intervention has helped reduce the number of complaints about State Police officers by 36 percent, records provided by the State Police show, falling from 478 in 2011 to 306 in 2013.
          
To intervene earlier, Alben has put in place software programs to flag problem officers. He also is making sure supervisors are interacting more with subordinates to find, and try to fix problems before they make headlines.
          
Efforts like these may have helped reach someone like Trooper Lemar if they had been in place, Alben said.
          
"I think that's precisely the kind of case we're looking at targeting much earlier in someone's career so that we don't get the 20 instances (of internal affairs complaints)," Alben said.
          
As for McCarthy, Alben says he could possibly have been helped sooner before his arrest thrust him in the public eye.
          
"McCarthy's case certainly points to personal problems that he had, certainly alcohol is an issue there. What could have been done 10 years ago with McCarthy, that's a possibility that something was missed," Alben said.
          
Once wrongdoing is found by the State Police, Alben says he is faced with another hurdle. Discipline can be appealed outside of the department three separate times, allowing cases to drag on for years.
          
"Are we going to be sitting here a year from now, five years from now, talking about more troopers getting in trouble?" Beaudet asked.
          
"I certainly hope not, but I think that human nature is what it is," Alben replied. "We're no different. Our people come from the greater community and they bring all of those issues with them. We're just trying to do a better job in identifying it and treating it earlier in their careers here."

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