Embattled former Methuen police chief is indicted


Former Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon was as soon as among the many highest-paid police leaders within the nation.

Former Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon. Methuen Police Division

Former Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon — a controversial determine as soon as likened to the “don of an organized crime household” — has been indicted alongside an officer he employed for a number of expenses associated to fraud and corruption, authorities introduced Thursday. 

Officers allege that Solomon “repeatedly misused his place of authority as police chief to repeatedly undermine the legislation for his personal profit,” the Legal professional Normal’s Workplace stated in a press launch. 

He’s accused of circumventing civil service legal guidelines by hiring six part-time “intermittent officers” after which appointing them to full-time roles. A kind of hires, former Methuen police officer and Metropolis Council Chair Sean Fountain, was additionally indicted this week after authorities alleged that Fountain lied about his {qualifications} and that Solomon assisted within the deception.

The AG’s workplace stated that when he utilized for his place, Fountain falsely claimed he had graduated from the Northeast Regional Police Institute and later produced a cast certificates from a part-time police academy. Solomon allegedly knew the certificates was cast, but acted as if it have been actual.

Solomon is now dealing with two counts of perjury by written affidavit; seven counts of acquiring unwarranted privileges in violation of civil service legal guidelines; six counts of civil service legislation violations; one rely of uttering a cast doc; and one rely of procurement fraud.

Fountain, in the meantime, is dealing with expenses of forgery, uttering a cast doc, procurement fraud, and violating battle of curiosity legislation. He was beforehand arraigned in Lawrence District Court docket in April on expenses that included conspiracy and forgery. His lawyer in that case wasn’t instantly out there for remark Friday afternoon, and it wasn’t clear whether or not Solomon had retained an legal professional.

The 2 males can be arraigned in Essex County Superior Court docket at a later date.

“At present is really a watershed day within the historical past of the Metropolis of Methuen,” Mayor Neil Perry stated in an announcement. The announcement of the indictments, he added, “underscores that nobody is above the legislation.”

A troubled previous

The indictments observe years of controversy and investigations into Solomon’s tenure on the Methuen Police Division. 

A 2020 Boston Globe report discovered that Solomon’s wage — $326,707 in 2019 — made him one of many highest-paid police chiefs within the nation, outranking his counterparts in Boston, New York Metropolis, and Chicago. 

That very same report traced Solomon’s historical past of controversy again to 2006, when he was investigated by the FBI “for mismanaging federal funds by doling out grant cash to a choose group of superior officers, and for different alleged felony offenses,” based on the Globe.

Then-mayor William Manzi fired Solomon in 2008, however the state Civil Service Fee later disputed lots of the allegations as being “wholly with out advantage” and decreased his punishment to a one-year suspension with out pay, the Globe reported. Solomon was by no means criminally charged. 

He was later positioned on depart in December 2020 after the state Workplace of the Inspector Normal launched a scathing report that dug into two Methuen Police Division contracts that supplied “extreme raises” for Solomon and different division leaders.

The OIG report discovered that Solomon, who represented town in negotiations with two police unions, “deserted his duties” by remaining silent whereas the pinnacle of the Methuen Police Superior Officers Affiliation slipped unapproved language into the contract that not directly elevated Solomon’s personal pay.

Solomon introduced his retirement a couple of weeks after the OIG report’s launch. 

Later, a January report from the Massachusetts Civil Service Fee discovered that Methuen paid greater than $1.5 million to seven people who shouldn’t have been employed — in some instances, as a result of they lacked the statutorily-required coaching to carry out their duties. 

“Probably the most brazen instance of abuse, which occurred (in plain sight) over a interval of years, was Chief Solomon’s employment of Sean Fountain,” the fee asserted.

In response to the report, Fountain by no means attended or accomplished a full-time police academy, was by no means licensed by the state’s Municipal Police Coaching Committee to function a full-time officer, had no proof of a accomplished bodily or medical examination, and was over town’s age restrict for brand new officers. 

In April, a separate city-funded investigation discovered that Solomon “ran the Methuen Police Division just like the ‘don of an organized crime household,’ counting on ‘humiliation, concern, intimidation and retaliation,’” the Globe reported. 

Regaining belief

In a information launch, Essex District Legal professional Paul Tucker stated he contacted the Legal professional Normal’s Workplace in January after reviewing the OIG and Civil Service Fee reviews. A months-long investigation adopted, leading to grand jury proceedings and Thursday’s indictments. 

Perry, Methuen’s mayor, stated town “continues to expend each affordable effort to steer town away from the abuses and wrongdoing of the previous, and, likewise, the Metropolis seems to be ahead to searching for justice towards those that have harmed the Metropolis.” 

Present Police Chief Scott J. McNamara stated regaining the neighborhood’s belief has been certainly one of his “most urgent priorities” since he took over management of the division.

“Nobody, together with police chiefs, are above the legislation on this neighborhood and Commonwealth,” McNamara stated. 

He added: “I pledge that each man and girl in our Division will proceed to work every single day to earn the help of these we serve, and to maneuver past the abuses of the previous.”