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Gonzalez: Bid to Destroy State Police Records ‘very Suspect’

October 11, 2018

Sentinel & Enterprise

By Sam Doran

State House News Service

BOSTON -- Democratic candidate for governor Jay Gonzalez is calling for the state’s fraud investigator to look into an alleged “coverup” within the State Police, following a report Wednesday morning that the embattled agency moved to destroy reams of records after its overtime and payroll practices fell under scrutiny earlier this year.

“I mean this takes this scandal to a whole different level,” Gonzalez told reporters outside the capitol. “Because it’s not only a scandal and criminal activity and fraud that’s happening at the State Police and a total management failure, it is proactive attempts to cover it up. That is a huge problem.”

WBUR Radio reported Wednesday that a State Police official applied in March, one day after the Boston Globe published a story about the agency’s hidden payroll records, for permission to destroy paperwork including attendance and payroll records from 2010-2011.

State agencies must seek permission from the Records Conservation Board -- a panel that includes representatives from the attorney general’s office, state archivist, comptroller, and Office of Administration and Finance -- before destroying or transferring records.

Gonzalez cited three applications made this year to destroy files he said “are pertinent to the criminal activity and abuse that we’ve already started to see,” amid a scandal that has embroiled the State Police with six current or retired troopers facing federal charges and three retired lieutenants indicted on state charges.

The Records Conservation Board tabled the requests in May, WBUR reported, pending investigations and internal audits.

State Police spokesman Dave Procopio said in a statement that the requests “are in compliance with the Secretary’s retention schedule and the records, due to their age, are not currently the subject of any outside investigation or audit. None of the records in question have been destroyed and in light of current ongoing investigations pertaining to similar records, the State Police will retain past payroll records until further notice.”

Gov. Charlie Baker told reporters later Wednesday that the Records Conservation Board is a “good fail-safe.” Referring to the application to the board, Baker said he thought “what the State Police did was a mistake.”

With less than a month until election day, Gonzalez said his Republican opponent “failed the people” and called on Inspector General Glenn Cunha to “investigate these coverups.”

Cunha, whose office investigates fraud, waste, and abuse in state government, was appointed in 2012 by Gov. Deval Patrick, Attorney General Martha Coakley, and Auditor Suzanne Bump. He was previously managing attorney of the criminal bureau in Coakley’s office.

A spokesman for his office said they had no comment.

“I’ve said many times that the inspector general has a lot of work on his plate,” Baker said. “He works on all kinds of things. But we have always welcomed him into anything he’s chosen to investigate.”

The governor said, “I know that the records that they sent over to the archives were records that under normal circumstances would be considered appropriate for (destruction). But under these circumstances I don’t think they should have done it, and I’m glad that they didn’t get destroyed.”

The State Police “had the right to destroy these records under law for a while, many of them for years, and they never did,” Gonzalez said at his morning news conference. “But they only started to pursue trying to destroy these records after reports of criminal activity came up. It is very suspect.”

The gubernatorial hopeful also reiterated his call for Baker to fire State Police Colonel Kerry Gilpin and Public Safety Secretary Dan Bennett, saying Baker should appoint a colonel from outside the agency who could “root out corruption” and “right this ship.”

Baker said later in the day that he had “no doubt about what side of this issue the colonel is on,” adding that Gilpin collected data on the 46 troopers accused of violating overtime and personnel practices, and turned the data over to the U.S. attorney and attorney general.

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