Northampton police captain retires, aide resigns after being paid $18K she didn't earn

Last modified: Monday, December 16, 2013
NORTHAMPTON — A former Northampton police captain and civilian employee no longer work for the city in the wake of an investigation that revealed one was paid $18,000 for work she did not do.

No criminal charges are to be filed against former Captain Scott A. Savino and Maryann Keating, an administrative aide, but the two are “no longer employees” of the Northampton Police Department, Mayor David J. Narkewicz said Monday.

“The city of Northampton has been made financially whole, including its legal and investigatory costs,” Narkewicz said in a statement. He called the resolution “just and warranted and in the best interests of both the city of Northampton and the Northampton Police Department.”

Savino was not home when a reporter visited Monday, and did not return a message left for him seeking comment.

Reached by telephone Monday, Northampton Police Chief Russell P. Sienkiewicz said he will now begin to discuss the department’s organizational structure — including what becomes of Savino’s former post — with the mayor.

In his statement Narkewicz called the financial wrongdoing an “isolated incident” that involved only Savino and Keating. He said Keating, who began working for the city Aug. 2, 2007, resigned Dec. 11, while Savino, hired in 1986, retired Dec. 13.

Keating had earned $37,530 in 2012, while Savino’s annual pay was $107,845, according to city payroll records.

Narkewicz declined to answer other questions related to the case, including whether either of the two had pensions and if those will be affected by the case.

A letter from Hampden District Attorney Mark Mastroianni to Sienkiewicz obtained by The Republican reveals some details of the case. The Gazette requested a copy of the letter from Mastroianni’s office but it was not provided.

According to the letter, Keating was paid a total of $18,000 dating back to January of 2011 for work she did not perform. Savino signed off on a “small portion” of the unworked hours, Mastroianni wrote, while other time Keating put in for was not verified by any supervisor.

“There are facts present which potentially could be proven to support criminal charges relative to a larceny scheme where Mrs. Keating was paid for hours that were not actually worked,” Mastroianni wrote.

He went on to say, however, that “I believe administrative handling is appropriate under the circumstances and, therefore, decline to further pursue the possibility of this factual scenario supporting the standard proof necessary for pursuing criminal charges.”

Meantime, retired Northampton Police Capt. Kenneth A. Patenaude has been working part time to “ensure the continuity of operations” in the department, Sienkiewicz said.

Sienkiewicz declined to comment on how the investigation has affected department morale, nor would he discuss the investigation, saying the mayor’s statement was “concise and complete.”

“We have a great group of people here, both police officers and supervisors,” Sienkiewicz said. “Everybody has pulled together and we are in a great position to move forward.”

In a telephone interview Monday, City Council Vice President Jesse Adams said the citizens of Northampton deserve more information.

“I’m surprised how little we’re being told here — citizens are entitled to know more information,” he said. “They basically told us there’s been a resolution, the city won’t lose any money and they don’t work for us anymore.”

Joshua R. Wallace, president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 390, the union representing Northampton police officers, said in a statement Monday that his colleagues are “happy that this chapter has ended” and that they “look forward to moving on.”

“Our hope is that as a unified force we can put this event behind us and continue to serve the city of Northampton with the professionalism and honor we pride ourselves on,” Wallace said.

Investigation’s beginnings

Savino and Keating came under scrutiny in September after possible improprieties in Keating’s payroll records were revealed, city officials have said. Sienkiewicz launched an internal investigation and notified the Northwestern district attorney’s office, which turned the matter over to Mastroianni’s office.

On Sept. 20, Savino and Keating were both placed on administrative leave with pay while the investigation continued.

According to the mayor’s office, Sienkiewicz was notified in writing Friday that the investigation had been completed and that Mastrioanni had recommended an “administrative resolution” rather than criminal charges.

Narkewicz said he’s thankful the investigation has been closed and the community and the department can move forward.

“I continue to have full faith and confidence in Chief Sienkiewicz and in the men and women of the Northampton Police Department to protect and serve the residents of our community.”

What is also not included in the mayor’s statement is any addressing of the list of complaints aired by the International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 390, representing patrol officers, in a letter it delivered to Narkewicz in October.

The letter accused Sienkiewicz of trying to “squash” the investigation, of downplaying Savino’s involvement and leveling the majority of the blame for the financial wrongdoing at Keating.

The union also alleged Savino and Keating were involved in a well known and inappropriate relationship that may have violated a code of ethics and internal department policies that all employees agree to abide by when they are hired.

A few days after that letter went public, the union that represents Northampton’s police sergeants, IBPO Local 390-S, released its own letter, saying it could not support the stance taken by the patrol officers union.

The sergeants said there was no conspiracy between Sienkiewicz and supervisors of the department. In their letter, they said that when they asked Wallace if any supervisors had spoken out in favor of minimizing the investigation, he told them he could not identify any.

“By issuing a blanket statement that used the word ‘supervisors’ in the plural form, IBPO 390 has now besmirched the reputation of every supervisor of this department by use of an inaccurate statement,” the sergeants wrote.

The sergeants also said their members did not have any “direct view” of conduct related to an alleged inappropriate relationship between Savino and Keating, as the patrol union stated.

Savino joined the force in 1986, was named sergeant in 1997, promoted to lieutenant in 2007, and named captain in 2011, when he took over for Patenaude.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@gazettenet.com.