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Whistleblower cop fired

January 23, 2019

EAST HAVEN — Police Officer Vincent Ferrara, who seven years ago helped federal investigators uncover corruption and harassment that send four cops to prison, was fired Tuesday night for disciplinary infractions including lying to a detective investigating his personal use of a police computer.

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It took the Board of Police Commissioners half an hour to complete the termination process a week after a hearing on the issues, which included using his city email to send nude and semi-nude photos of women to his private email in 2015 and 2017.

“Under the rules and regulations of the EHPD, we’re going to go through with the termination of Officer Ferrara,” said William Illingworth, commission chairman, after a brief deliberation. After the meeting, he said in an interview that commissioners went through evidence over the past week before reaching their unanimous decision.

“The commission took all the facts into consideration and took ample time in order to deliberate,” he said.

Ferrara, an 11-year department veteran, said he will appeal the firing and continue his federal civil rights action against the town and police department, claiming that he was the victim of retaliation after he helped the FBI and a grand jury. “This is only going to make my lawsuit better,” he said after the meeting.

Daniel Healy, an associate of Norman Pattis, one of Ferrara’s two main lawyers, said that the legal team will discuss potential avenues for appeal.

“We need to discuss what your plans are,” he said to Ferrara and his family outside headquarters. “If there are appeal rights we will exercise them, if there is a basis to do so.”

Ferrara, while suffering from brain cancer, had been cleared by his doctor to return to work after more than a year. In December 2017, he allegedly lied to an investigating detective, Robert Brockett, who investigated the identities of the women whose images Ferrara forwarded from his town email to his personal account.

Ferrara made “untruthful and/or misleading responses” to Brockett about the identities of the women, the commissioners found. He also forwarded 10 notices from the department’s intelligence center to his personal email, and made misleading responses about an incident involving a women at whose residence his police cruiser was found to be parked for an hour.

Healy requested a transcript of last week’s hearing, then asked for copies of Ferrar’s pay stubs. Town Attorney Joseph H. Zullo said a transcript was not yet ready, and he could request the pay stubs through the Freedom of Information Act process. When Healy tried to get Ferrara’s personnel file introduced as evidence, Zullo said that it was too late because the fact-finding phase of the case was completed at the earlier hearing.

“The only thing you have before you was what was presented last week,” Zullo said. “It would be improper for the board to receive more evidence or testimony.”

According to recent sworn depositions in Ferrara’s civil rights case, back in 2015, before Brockett became a detective in the department’s Internal Affairs unit, he allegedly termed Ferrara “a rat” for helping in the federal probe into the harassment of Latinos.

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