Police lieutenant sues NPD leaders over alleged ‘smear campaign’

  • Grace Coates, center, embraces State Trooper Mike Habel as Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper Northampton and Police Lt. Alan Borowski look on, following a long standoff between police and protesters at the Northampton police station earlier this year. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 8/21/2020 9:48:50 PM
Modified: 8/21/2020 9:48:36 PM

NORTHAMPTON — City Police Lt. Alan Borowski is suing the chief of police, current and former high-ranking police officers and others, claiming that a series of investigations into his alleged misconduct were part of a smear campaign designed to undermine his career.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Hampshire Superior Court on behalf of Borowski by his North Chelmsford attorney Peter J. Perroni, names Police Chief Jody Kasper, Capt. John Cartledge, former Capt. Dorothy Clayton, an unknown “John Doe” and the city of Northampton as defendants.

“This case is ultimately about how the leadership of the Northampton Police Department, including its Chief and two police captains, became complicit and willing partners in a false and malicious smear campaign designed to undermine the Plaintiff’s successful law enforcement career,” the complaint reads. “Under the false guise of lawful ‘investigation,’ the Defendants gave life and presumed legitimacy to anonymous and false allegations involving the Plaintiff.”

Borowski’s accusations center on the police department’s handling of two separate internal affairs investigations into him in 2017; one that looked into allegations that he mishandled the contents of a drug dropbox in 2016, and another that stemmed from allegations of misconduct. He was originally suspended for each of these investigations; however, the dropbox suspension was overturned after an arbitrator found police mishandled that investigation and the other suspension was vacated in a settlement between Borowski and the city.

Kasper said Friday that internal affairs investigations are a critical component of a police agency. “They are a means to ensure that we are accountable to the community that we serve,” she wrote in a statement. “Unfortunately, the process itself and the public nature of the process, can be difficult for the employee being investigated and the department as a whole.”

Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz and Perroni declined to comment for this story. Cartledge, Clayton and Peter Fappiano could not be reached for comment Friday. Fappiano is not a named defendant in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit states that in February 2016, Borowski helped a resident dispose of pills in a drug dropbox at the police station. Borowski had a conversation with Fappiano, a detective with the department’s drug task force at the time, after which it was decided the pills should be removed from the box, the lawsuit states. Cartledge was also present during this conversation, according to the lawsuit.

“The Plaintiff, with Fappiano present and acting on Fappiano’s advice, moved the pills to the evidence room and documented the pills,” the lawsuit reads.

After their conversation, Borowski and Fappiano’s relationship began to deteriorate, the lawsuit states. Fappiano became a subordinate of Borowski and allegedly did not agree with Borowski’s actions after he became his supervisor, according to the lawsuit. Additionally, a good friend of Fappiano’s, referred to as “Individual 1,” resigned in part because of Borowski’s participation in reporting “Individual 1’s” improper conduct to the former chief of police.

The lawsuit alleges that Fappiano and the other individual defendants were motivated to improperly act against Borowski in part because of their friendships with Borowski’s subordinates and “Individual 1.”

In August 2017, Police Chief Kasper received an anonymous letter, the author of which is the lawsuit’s “John Doe,” which “falsely and maliciously” made allegations about Borowski and the drug box and said to check video surveillance near it, the lawsuit claims. The lawsuit later says that Kasper allegedly testified during an arbitration hearing regarding Borowski’s dropbox suspension that she suspected Fappiano was involved with the “threatening correspondence,” but that she refused to investigate him as she allegedly claimed it would not look appropriate as Fappiano was a main witness against Borowski. “Why would a supervisor be opening and digging through it and then removing pills from it?” the anonymous letter read. “You should ask your detective head. You may want to piss test him too.”

The lawsuit claims that though the defendants knew the allegation had no basis, Kasper set into motion an internal affairs investigation. Even after Kasper hired an independent investigator, the lawsuit alleges the individual defendants interfered with the investigation by actively concealing information that would exonerate Borowski. The lawsuit alleges Kasper insisted that she interview Cartledge instead of the independent investigator. Eventually, the news media reported that Borowski had been placed on leave.

Fappiano allegedly became frustrated upon learning that Borowski would soon be returning after being placed on leave, the lawsuit alleges, while Kasper and the other individual defendants allegedly had a meeting with Fappiano that was kept secret from the independent investigator. The lawsuit alleges that at this meeting the “individual Defendants actively conspired to develop charges and allegations against the Plaintiff,” and that after it, Kasper and Cartledge conducted interviews with officers in the detective bureau.

“While the first investigation was pending, the individual Defendants maliciously authored and initiated a new Internal Affairs Complaint against the Plaintiff, falsely accusing him of violating his responsibilities and duties as Supervisor of the Detective Bureau,” the lawsuit reads.

Kasper assigned Clayton to investigate these new allegations. Borowski was eventually given a two-day suspension for the first investigation and was given a three-day suspension for the second. He was also removed as the head of the detective bureau. Borowski returned to work as a shift commander in November 2017.

In December 2017, the lawsuit states, Borowski and Kasper received another anonymous letter apparently targeting Borowski. In January 2018, another anonymous letter was sent to Northampton police and others which alleged that Borowski, along with other officers and people in the community, were involved in illegal betting. The attorney general’s office also received this letter and began investigating, the lawsuit states. Kasper allegedly told state investigators to contact Fappiano to help with the investigation.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants did not make a good-faith effort to investigate the origin of the letters despite Borowski’s demands for a criminal investigation into the letters’ origins, as well as an investigation into whether Fappiano was involved. It also said that the defendants caused the police department’s records to be altered, deliberately impeding the investigation and ultimately preventing “discovery by any other agency.”

The lawsuit states that Kasper continues to “attempt to harass and embarrass the Plaintiff” by initiating an inquiry into behavior that the lawsuit says “had no basis in fact,” and bypassing him for promotion to captain.

The lawsuit is demanding a trial by jury on counts that individual defendants interfered with Borowski’s rights, defamed him with false information, interfered with a contract, engaged in a civil conspiracy to defame him and intentionally inflicted emotional distress. All of the defendants are being accused of depriving Borowski of his rights.




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