You know, some people just belong in jail.
And some people are in jail…working for the jail.
Well, at least they were…!
Take Gary M., 48, of Berkley, a lieutenant with the Department of Correction in Boston (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) for example. He changed seats in the criminal justice arena when he was arrested Wednesday at his home and charged with stealing $100,000 in state funds, firearms and other items from the department for his own use.
The Defendant is now looking at charges of larceny by scheme over $250 and procurement fraud.
“How can a thing like this happen?”, you ask. After all, wasn’t the Defendant supposed to be upholding law and order as an shining example of clean living to those nasty inmates?
Well, maybe. But, according to authorities, his shine has dimmed a bit.
The Defendant had been responsible for the purchase of firearms, ammunition and other specialized equipment since 2002. Only thing is, though, he was supposed to be getting the stuff for the Department of Correction…not himself. He is now accused of buying numerous such items, including five 40-caliber handguns, a machete, a hunting bow and a baseball pitching machine, for himself .
Investigators also allege that between 2004 and 2008, the Defendant falsely reported the value, cost and quantity of equipment department officials believed they had paid for by misrepresenting invoices he had produced. He is also accused of knowingly submitting invoices for more merchandise than he actually used or needed and then using the difference in value as credit to buy items for himself, such as a baseball pitching machine, a motorcycle/ATV trailer, cameras, hunting equipment, firearms and other items. By employing this scheme, he allegedly caused the DOC to be improperly charged by the distributor for supplies that were never received by the DOC.
And how does a thing like this become discovered? Was it an immediate arrest upon suspicion? No. Like most such cases, there was an ongoing investigation for some time.
In 2007, the DOC Internal Affairs Division investigated allegations that a member of their special operations division had been improperly taking equipment for personal use and was misrepresenting certain purchases as legitimate DOC equipment purchases.
After conducting their investigation, the DOC referred the matter to the Attorney General’s Office in March 2008. Authorities discovered that the Defendant allegedly purchased numerous items from a law enforcement supplies distributor in Western Massachusetts for his own personal use with state funds. The company sells law enforcement-related equipment to authorized individuals and law enforcement organizations throughout the commonwealth.
The Defendant was arraigned Wednesday in Greenfield District Court on larceny and fraud charges.
Attorney General Martha Coakley announced the arrest also indicating that the Defendant also shared the wealth by purchasing firearms for other employees. She said she did not, however, believe any other workers broke laws. On the other hand, she also announced that the investigation is ongoing and would not rule out the possibility of more arrests.
A 25-year employee of the DOC, the Defendant has been suspended from his $75,000-a-year job with pay, DOC Commissioner Harold Clarke said.
The problem may simply be that $75,000 a year just does not buy as many weapons for home use as it used to.
When one removes the law enforcement window dressings, this is a theft and fraud case. Procurement fraud, a white collar offense, simply means that the Defendant is alleged to have falsified information, in this case that the goods were for the Department of Corrections, in order to be able to get them. I suppose that if it had become known that he was loading up his home for Armageddon, it may have raised some eyebrows. Besides that, he would have had to pay for the goods himself.
The baseball pitching machine is an interesting law enforcement tool, though. Maybe when a prisoner gets really out of control, they use it as a non-lethal cannon…?
Defrauding the Commonwealth, particularly when you are in such a position of trust, is a pretty serious charge. Especially given the media involvement, the government will strive hard to look “tough on crime”. I would expect that this case is likely to be indicted moved up to superior court with various other counts added. It may be, however, that the Commonwealth will want the ongoing investigation to be over by that point so that any other potential defendants can be indicted at the same time.
In case you are wondering why they are alleging theft of “over $250” when the Defendant is accused of stealing $100,000, it simply the way the statute is written. $250 is a dividing point between the levels of larceny. Grand larceny, as he is charged, is a felony.
Once again, we have a defendant finding himself placed in position which he believed would never come to pass. Once again, it was the result of a long-term investigation. Once again, that investigation is now continuing in its search for co-defendants.
According to the Attorney General, it is believed that other individuals received goods from the Defendant, which makes them suspects. The fact that the prosecution is suggesting that they may not have done anything wrong may be that said individuals are choosing between the available options, namely, the route of Commonwealth Witness or Commonwealth’s Defendant. However, anyone with any dealings with the Defendant, particularly if it involves guns or pitching machines, had best beware.
As we have discussed so many times in this daily blog, anyone can be suspected of a crime and that risk gets higher if you are in the site of an investigation. This is particularly true in cases like this which have already gotten the public’s attention. The old saying that “you’re either with us or against us” comes to mind.
It likely has come to the prosecutors’ minds as well as they prepare their case(s).
So, the advice is the same. If you find yourself potentially the subject of an investigation for illegal acts, or acts which could be misconstrued as illegal, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney at the earliest possible moment.
It may mean the difference between doing your daily job in an office or a cell.
Samuel Goldberg is the senior criminal defense attorney at the firm of Altman & Altman, P.C. A former prosecutor in New York, he has worked as a Boston defense attorney over 18 years. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network
The full articles of this story can be found at http://www.thebostonchannel.com/news/18017481/detail.html and http://news.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view/2008_11_19_DOC_official_accused_of_ripping_off__100_000_in_funds_and_weapons/srvc=home&position=4