FALLOUT CLAIMS 2ND STATIE
Top trooper’s No. 2 quits as scrubbed arrest report scandal deepens
The Troopergate scandal claimed another top state police officer yesterday, with the agency’s second-in-command following his boss into hasty retirement.
Deputy Superintendent Francis Hughes announced last night he is joining Col. Richard McKeon in retirement after McKeon faced widespread criticism for ordering two troopers to scrub embarrassing details from the drug and OUI arrest report of a judge’s daughter.
McKeon was scheduled to step down Friday from his $251,000-ayear post, but he abruptly ended his near 35-year career at the close of business yesterday with no explanation. State police spokesman David Procopio said he didn’t know why McKeon chose to leave early, and efforts to reach McKeon were not successful.
“The timing is very questionable,” attorney Leonard Kesten, who represents the two troopers who are suing McKeon and others, said of the dual retirements. “They keep saying, ‘Nobody did anything wrong. It’s all routine.’ And then the top two just abruptly retired.
“There’s serious wrongdoing that we are looking into ... and it speaks volumes,” he said.
Hughes — a 31-year veteran and past Trooper of the Year before he was tapped for his $233,889-a-year deputy position — wasn’t specifically named in either of the troopers’ suits. But Kesten said Hughes was a “John Doe” identified in court paperwork, calling him a “link” between McKeon and other staff who could be deposed as part of the suit.
Dana Pullman, president of the State Police Association of Massachusetts, said the union filed an official complaint with internal affairs on Monday seeking an investigation of the matter.
“In no way is this protocol or normal. It’s like a murder-suicide,” Pullman said of the quick exits. “We want a fully open investigation by the Massachusetts State Police internal affairs unit. There was nothing being put forward by the department looking into this. That’s why we requested it. We stood by and we waited. The allegations were definitely serious enough to warrant an internal affairs investigation.”
He said the union wants an investigation to examine whether McKeon, Hughes and others “engaged in a conspiracy to violate the law by tampering with official court documents.”
“This ain’t over,” Pullman said. “This ain’t even close to being over. This thing hasn’t even started yet and it’s sent them running for the hills. I don’t take any pleasure in it. It’s disgraceful on all counts.”
In a statement, Procopio said of the Hughes departure, “Traditionally, when a Colonel/Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police leaves his or her position, the Deputy Superintendent resigns as well to allow a new Colonel to select a second-in-command of his or her own choosing.”
Whether an internal investigation goes forward will be up to whoever is tapped as the new permanent colonel, Procopio said. A spokeswoman for Gov. Charlie Baker said he planned to “appoint a new colonel soon.”
Lt. Col. Dermot Quinn has been named interim commander.
When Col. Timothy Alben retired in 2015, his deputy, James Hanafin did, too — but not until weeks afterward. State police even celebrated Hanafin’s departure in a Facebook post labeled “One Last Ride,” showing Hanafin riding with the mounted unit and taking in “the majestic views at the state reservation” as he reflected on his career.
Attorney General Maura Healey has said she’s conducting a review of the allegations that McKeon ordered a trooper to alter the arrest report of Alli Bibaud, the daughter of Dudley District Court Judge Timothy Bibaud. Alli Bibaud, 30, had told police her father was a judge, that she had performed sex acts to obtain the drugs, and suggested “she would offer sexual favors in return for leniency.”
Baker has since closed his own review of the allegations, after ordering the state police to “examine” its procedures on reviewing police reports. His office said yesterday it had no plans to produce a formal report on its probe.
State Sen. Michael O. Moore, chairman of the Legislature’s Committee on Public Safety, said he wants information from Baker, and called it “premature” for the Legislature to organize an oversight hearing.
“If we are going to do something, I’d rather give the administration time to do their due diligence, to look into it and hopefully come back to the Legislature with something for us to review,” Moore said. “The point of an oversight hearing is not to embarrass the administration.”
State police and prosecutors have defended the decision to scrub the report. McKeon said he had ordered edits to reports “more times than I can remember,” and Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early said the comments left Alli Bibaud — who once worked in his office — “at risk from prejudicial pretrial publicity.”
But several of the state’s other district attorneys said they’ve rarely had state or local police go to the court seeking to redact a report so as not to prejudice the defendant. Prosecutors in Suffolk, Essex, Plymouth and Norfolk counties all said the practice isn’t routine in their offices.
“That is not a common practice,” said Carrie Kimball Monahan, a spokeswoman for the Essex District Attorney’s Office.
‘NOT A COMMON PRACTICE’: The Bay State’s top troopers, Col. Richard McKeon, left, and Deputy Superintendent Francis Hughes, right, have stepped down amid a scrubbed arrest report scandal. State Sen. Michael O. Moore said it would be ‘premature’ for the Legislature to organize a oversight committee, while Worcester DA Joseph Early defended the top troopers’ decision.
MICHAEL O. MOORE