Deputy superintendent at Hampshire County jail resigns as suspicious vehicle probe begins

  • Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction in Northampton. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 8/27/2022 7:03:53 AM
Modified: 8/27/2022 7:00:12 AM

NORTHAMPTON — Barbara Marean resigned as deputy superintendent of the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction on Thursday night, two days after the Gazette reported that her name appeared in a Southampton police report involving a suspicious vehicle at the home of another jail employee earlier this month.

Sheriff Patrick Cahillane said in a statement that Marean offered her “immediate resignation and retirement” in a text message to the jail’s chief of staff and that an investigation into the matter detailed in the police reports will move forward.

“It was reported that a senior staff member of my Office had been seen driving a state vehicle and taking pictures on her cell phone of a yard sign displayed in the front yard of the home of one of our lieutenants supporting an opposing candidate,” Cahillane wrote in a statement on Friday. “[T]his is not who I am or who I have ever been. I will never tolerate this conduct from any staff or campaign member.”

Cahillane wrote that he “did not ask for (Marean’s) resignation but I did accept it.”

Marean could not be immediately reached for comment early Friday evening. She earned a base salary of $122,960 as deputy superintendent in 2021, according to state payroll records.

The lawn sign shows support for Caitlin Sepeda, who along with Yvonne Gittelson is running against Cahillane in the Democratic primary as he seeks a second six-year term as sheriff. The primary will be held Sept. 6 and the winner will not face a Republican opponent in the Nov. 8 general election.

Reports filed by Southampton Police Lt. Mark Groeber and Officer Wendy Iozzo state that a jail employee and his wife observed a woman in a black Ford SUV outside their Southampton house on two occasions. The driver allegedly took cellphone pictures of their yard, where they display a Sepeda sign.

Police determined the license plate was registered to the state’s Executive Office for Administration & Finance; the sheriff’s office is a state-funded agency. Groeber wrote that the jail employee reportedly saw the vehicle in the jail parking lot, with the same license plates, on Aug. 9 and “the operator was Barbara Marean.”

Iozzo spoke to the driver on Aug. 13 while investigating a suspicious vehicle near the employee’s house, but did not identify the woman in her report. The reports note there is “no crime involved.”

Cahillane wrote that he never saw any photos, and a Gazette reporter was the first to alert him to the allegations on Tuesday. Within an hour, he said, Cahillane contacted General Counsel Charles Maguire and “instructed him to engage a completely impartial professional to conduct a thorough and comprehensive investigation.”

Maguire plans to meet Monday with Daniel Bennett, the CEO of Comprehensive Investigations and former secretary of the state Executive Office of Public Safety, “to discuss his possible engagement and the nature of his investigation,” according to Cahillane.

Marean, Cahillane wrote, “has served the Office with unwavering dedication, skill and unrelenting hard work for some 30 years and I am grateful for her service. I do not know what happened or the extent of her involvement in these incidents, if any, but I intend to find out.”

Cahillane said he is not personally involved in the investigation and did not speak to Marean about it. He offered a firm denunciation of any activity that would chill an employee’s free speech rights.

“I want to be CLEAR: I have not and will never tolerate election interference. Nor will I tolerate any act of retaliation, overt or subtle, against any officer or staff member who chooses to support one of my opponents. That is the absolute right of every person,” Cahillane wrote. “Every officer and staff member can rest assured that each is free to support the candidate of their choice and that right will be respected in and outside the correctional facility.”

Brian Steele can be reached at
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