T UN­AWARE OF DRIVER’S TROU­BLES

Car­ried gun on­board, has ex­ten­sive driv­ing record

Boston Herald - - NEWS - By MATT STOUT

An MBTA trol­ley driver now fac­ing crim­i­nal charges af­ter crash­ing a Mat­ta­pan trol­ley into an­other train late last year has an eight­page driv­ing record, with mul­ti­ple li­cense sus­pen­sions while he worked at the T — vi­o­la­tions the agency said it wasn’t aware of at the time.

Leroy Mat­ti­son, 42, is due to be ar­raigned to­day in Dorch­ester District Court in con­nec­tion with the Dec. 29 crash that in­jured 17 peo­ple, af­ter tran­sit po­lice said he was us­ing his cell­phone to delete a Red­dit.com post when he ac­ci­den­tally rammed an­other stopped trol­ley. He also had a loaded gun in his back­pack on the train.

Mat­ti­son, who says he has a firearms li­cense, de­fended him­self in a phone in­ter­view yes­ter­day, say­ing he’s “not a bad per­son” and hopes that ev­ery­one in­jured is “safe.”

He also ac­knowl­edged hav­ing a lengthy driv­ing record, which shows that at the time of the crash, the Registry of Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles had put a hold on his li­cense prevent­ing him from re­new­ing it when it ex­pires be­cause he hadn’t paid “out­stand­ing obli­ga­tions” in Quincy and Malden. Of­fi­cials say those are of­ten un­paid tick­ets or excise taxes.

“I’m not a bad driver,” said Mat­ti­son, whose li­cense was twice sus­pended for 60 days, first in 2007, in­clud­ing af­ter driv­ing an un­reg­is­tered car, and in 2003, af­ter var­i­ous in­ci­dents, ac­cord­ing to RMV records.

“My driv­ing record in the past was ba­si­cally driv­ing unin­sured. What can I say? It’s go­ing to be on there. It’s not like I was in ac­ci­dents or any­thing,” Mat­ti­son said.

But Mat­ti­son ac­knowl­edged he was in one ac­ci­dent while driv­ing his own car in Jan­uary 2015, which he said came dur­ing the height of one of that sea­son’s snow­storms. “It was the bliz­zard,” he said. “I was go­ing down a steep hill and it slid out, I couldn’t con­trol it.”

Mat­ti­son, who had worked for the T since 2001 be­fore be­ing fired in wake of the De­cem­ber crash, said he no­ti­fied the T when his li­cense was sus­pended. But a T spokesman dis­puted that, say­ing the agency had “no ev­i­dence that he sel­f­re­ported the sus­pen­sions.”

The T now re­ceives au­to­matic up­dates from the RMV when an op­er­a­tor’s li­cense is re­voked or sus­pended.

“If he were still em­ployed by the MBTA, he’d be dis­ci­plined for these vi­o­la­tions,” said T spokesman Joe Pe­sat­uro. But the fact that Mat­ti­son wouldn’t have been al­lowed to re­new his li­cense as of De­cem­ber wouldn’t trig­ger an au­to­matic warn­ing to the T, he said.

Mat­ti­son de­clined to dis­cuss the cur­rent charges against him, which in­clude com­mon car­rier’s gross neg­li­gence, wit­ness in­tim­i­da­tion and us­ing a cell­phone while work­ing as a pub­lic trans­porta­tion op­er­a­tor. Tran­sit po­lice said Mat­ti­son had “in­ten­tion­ally mis­led” cops dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, in­clud­ing ly­ing to them “be­cause he was con­cerned about los­ing his em­ploy­ment.”

Tran­sit po­lice said they’d also seek charges in Malden for im­proper stor­age of a firearm. RMV records show his li­cense was again sus­pended as of Mon­day due to a Malden war­rant.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI

‘I’M NOT A BAD DRIVER’: First re­spon­ders evac­u­ate pas­sen­gers Dec. 29 from the scene of a trol­ley col­li­sion near the Cedar Grove Sta­tion in Bos­ton. The trol­ley driver, who has an eight-page driv­ing record and mul­ti­ple li­cense sus­pen­sions, is fac­ing crim­i­nal charges.

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