At heated meeting, Hadley selectman defends himself over allegations he improperly flashed police badge

Staff Writer
Published: 11/10/2016 12:21:08 AM

HADLEY — Select Board members sparred at the end of a regular meeting Wednesday night over allegations one of their own improperly flashed a metal-plated, police-issued badge to enter a UMass Oktoberfest event on Oct. 15.

Witnesses say board member Donald J. Pipczynski was shuttling UMass students on a bus to Oktoberfest, held at the Hadley Young Men’s Club that day, according to statements presented to the Select Board.  The statements allege that Pipczynski entered the private party without paying and without permission — using his badge to gain admittance. 

Pipczynski said he was a police commissioner and could be anywhere where alcohol is being sold, Sgt. Mitchell Kuc said in a written account. After a back-and forth inside the club between Pipczynski and John Mieczkowski Jr., a member of the club’s board of directors, Kuc said Pipczynski walked toward the parking lot.

The allegations are chronicled in three letters received by the Select Board after the incident — one by Kuc, who responded to the “less than cordial” conversation; one on Young Men’s Club letterhead; and one written by Mieczkowski.

Pipczynski could have opted to have the allegations discussed in closed session with the Select Board Wednesday, but opted instead to have it in public. The discussion quickly turned heated.

“You shouldn’t have been using it in an authoritative manner,” Select Board member Joyce A. Chunglo told Pipczynski, adding that Pipczynski doesn’t have arresting powers.

He fired back: “I’m using it as a commissioner and board of selectmen. I never said –”

“You still had no business doing that,” Chunglo interjected.

The witnesses who wrote the letters were not present. Pipczynski and his attorney, Thomas John Rooke, said they should be at the meeting to face questioning.

Pipczynski also accused Chairwoman Molly A. Keegan of coordinating the written accounts and the meeting for political reasons.

“I was involved in a very heated campaign. You campaigned against me. You put up signs for my opponent (Guilford B. Mooring II),” he said. “It’s political.”

Keegan said there’s been a pattern of misbehavior from Pipczynski.

“You’re not hearing us,” she said. “You continue to act independently and alone. And that really concerns me.”

After more back-and-forth, the board voted to continue the discussion to Nov. 29, at 6 p.m., when witnesses will be notified to come to a more formal hearing. Pipczynski will also be able to bring witnesses.

When the board voted to extend the episode, John Mieczkowski Sr., who sits on the town Planning Board, interjected from the audience: “I’ve got a question: Who’s going to pay for all this? I hope not us, the taxpayers.”

The board moved on without offering an explanation.

“You ought to be ashamed of yourself,” Mieczkowski said, leaving the room. “Disgusting.”

Town Administrator David G. Nixon said after the meeting the board could “take a number of actions” against Pipczynski, or none at all. He didn’t say what specific action the board could take when asked after the meeting.

This isn’t the first time Hadley has had a dust-up over city-issued badges. In 2010, former selectman David Moskin waved his gold badge “vigorously” out his driver’s side window during a traffic stop, according to police.

Moskin said he was trying to show he was a local, and later told the Gazette he probably shouldn’t have done that.

After that incident, Nixon said the city would start to collect various badges handed out over the years.

He said that to date, obviously, there are some still floating around.

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