Worcester district attorney accused of violating ethics law

  • Gavel and scales Creatas

Published: 6/24/2020 6:56:23 PM

WORCESTER — Massachusetts ethics officials accused the district attorney for Worcester County on Wednesday of violating the conflict of interest law by ordering one of his prosecutors to replace a police report containing embarrassing details about the arrest of a judge’s daughter with a sanitized version.

The State Ethics Commission’s enforcement division said it found reasonable cause to believe that District Attorney Joseph Early Jr., former Massachusetts State Police Superintendent Richard McKeon and others violated the law for actions surrounding the revised police report in 2017.

Early has denied any wrongdoing, and said Wednesday that his actions “fit squarely within the rules of professional conduct that bind us as prosecutors.”

“As DA, I am supposed to take steps to prevent the law enforcement officers with whom we work from making statements that will be publicly disseminated in the media that hold defendants up to ridicule and affect their right to a fair trial. I adhered to those ethical rules in this situation and will continue to do so, just as I have throughout my tenure,” he said in an emailed statement.

The revelation that changes were made to the police report about the arrest of Alli Bibaud engulfed Massachusetts State Police in scandal and led to McKeon’s abrupt retirement in November 2017. Trooper Ryan Sceviour filed a federal lawsuit accusing McKeon of ordering him to scrub the report about Bibaud, who allegedly failed sobriety tests.

Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey said in April 2018 that the the revisions to the arrest report raise concerns about possible civil ethics violations, but her office found criminal charges aren’t warranted because the officials were not trying to impede or interfere with the prosecution of the judge’s daughter.

Officials said Early called McKeon to alert him about the police report and told McKeon that the superintendent could revise the report to remove the embarrassing statements. McKeon then ordered that the arresting trooper revise the police report, officials said.

McKeon ordered the revised arrest report to be delivered to the district attorney’s office and Early directed First Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Travers to go to the court “to replace the original report with the sanitized report, which Travers allegedly attempted to do,” officials said.

An attorney for McKeon in the case brought by Sceviour didn’t immediately respond to an email sent Wednesday. McKeon previously said he was “led to believe that everything I was about to do was not only the right thing, but it was the appropriate thing to do,” according to the attorney general’s report.

The commission said it will schedule public hearings on the allegations within 90 days.

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