Northampton City Council Vice President Jesse Adams presses mayor for more information in police time card case

Friday, December 20, 2013
NORTHAMPTON — Saying many unanswered questions remain in the wake of a resolution this week of payroll impropriety within the Police Department, City Council Vice President Jesse M. Adams is pressing Mayor David J. Narkewicz for more information.

The City Council unanimously approved Thursday an information request presented by Adams that includes 20 questions he wants Narkewicz to answer. The questions are varied but generally focus on factual data related to the investigation of alleged time card fixing by Scott A. Savino, a former captain, and Maryann Keating, a former administrative assistant. Other questions revolve around department policies and organizational structure.

“I think that there are a lot of unanswered questions and I think the public has a right to have more information,” Adams said after the meeting. “More information will go a long way in repairing public trust in the department.”

Adams and Narkewicz met earlier Thursday to discuss the investigation and the Police Department, a meeting which Adams characterized as fruitful. He believes information gathered as a result of the request approved by the council with little discussion will go a long way in rebuilding public trust in the department.

“I’m concerned that trust has been damaged substantially and I want to help rebuild that trust,” he said.

Narkewicz declined to comment after the meeting, saying he has yet to see the list of questions.

Several of them centered on finances. In addition to wanting to know what the investigation cost the city, the council also wants information on how much Savino and Keating were paid while on leave.

Others questions called for explanations on the department’s policies and procedures related to flex time — the process by which compensation is approved for time worked at the department — and whether the administration will review the department’s protocols with respect to payroll record-keeping.

Adams also wants to know if there is a plan to restore the department’s credibility, whether Chief Russell Sienkiewicz was ever made aware of his secretary’s absence from work, and whether the city is considering a restructuring of its Police Department.

In making the request, Adams invoked rules in the city’s new charter that give the council the right to make investigations into the affairs of the city and the conduct and performance of any city agency, including the mayor.

“As representatives of the Northampton community it is our duty to investigate this matter to ensure that there is public confidence in government,” Adams wrote in the motion approved by the council.

Savino and Keating were subjects of a probe conducted by Hampden District Attorney Mark Mastroianni after allegations of improprieties concerning Keating’s time cards came to light in September. Mastroianni concluded the investigation Dec. 13 with the decision that no criminal charges would be filed.

According to Mastroianni, the wrongdoing involved Keating being paid about $18,000 for hours she didn’t work dating back to January of 2011. Savino was aware of this and “knowingly” verified a “small portion of the unworked hours,” according to Mastroianni.

As a result of the investigation, Savino retired from his post Dec. 13 and Keating resigned Dec. 11. Both had been on paid administrative leave since Sept. 20, around the time Mastroianni began his probe.

Savino is eligible to receive his pension and nearly $29,000 in accumulated sick time pay. He forfeited about $8,300 in vacation time. Meanwhile, Keating will be required to pay the city $30,000 in restitution.