AG plans investigation into Rutland PD complaint
By Brent Curtis
STAFF WRITER | April 19,2013
The Vermont attorney general’s office has decided to review complaints laid out in a lawsuit involving much of the leadership at the Rutland City Police Department but it remains unclear what law enforcement agency will conduct the investigation.
Three weeks after members of the Rutland City Police union sent a letter to the attorney general’s office asking for a formal investigation into complaints lodged by former city officer Andrew Todd, who left the force last year, Assistant Attorney General Cindy Maguire said Thursday that her office wanted to review the complaints but needed investigators able to do it.
Vermont State Police is the agency usually called on to investigate complaints of criminal conduct within a municipal department.
But state police declined to investigate the complaints laid out in the lawsuit Todd filed in January due to multiple conflicts of interest with individuals central to the investigation.
One is Rutland Police Chief James Baker who is a retired state police colonel and one of the defendants named in Todd’s case. The other individual is Todd himself who, after resigning from the city force in 2012, took a job with the state police.
Maguire said the attorney general’s office is trying to identify another agency to investigate the claims. She declined to say whether her office was looking out of state or at private investigators.
She did say, however, that the attorney general’s office intended to follow through with a review of the complaints.
“Given the fact that it came to us in the manner it came to us and that it was originally contained in a lawsuit a review is warranted,” she said. “We’re giving no less or greater weight than that.”
The manner in which the lawsuit came to the attorney general’s office was as an attachment to a letter from the Rutland police union which voted last month to seek a review of the claims.
In that letter, union president Lynette Gallipo wrote, “When complaints of this nature are made against Rutland Police Department enforcement officers, there is an informal investigation to determine if the allegations may have merit. Should that investigation determine possible criminal actions, the officer in question is suspended with pay by the chief, pending the completion of a formal internal investigation. In this complaint, this has not occurred.”
In the lawsuit, Todd described instances of another officer “lying on time reports, stealing, taking free items, failing to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of supervisor, sleeping on the job, on-duty sex with a female citizen and repeatedly making derogatory and racist comments and profiling African-American citizens.”
He said his complaints about that officer were ignored by his immediate superior, Lt. Kevin Geno, and later by Capt. Scott Tucker, Chief James Baker, and Larry Jensen, chairman of the Rutland Police Commission.
The letter does not allege specific criminal conduct by Geno, Tucker, Baker or Jensen.
Maguire said the letter represents the first time that her office has received a request from a police union to investigate its superiors.
In the letter, Gallipo indicated that the union’s members want the department’s leaders to be as answerable for their conduct as its officers — two of whom became the focus of criminal investigations last year.
One of those investigations, involving Officer Thomas Fuller, was completed in February with the attorney general’s office finding no cause to bring criminal charges. Fuller remains on administrative leave while an internal review that started in December continues.
The other officer, Michael Warfle, remains on administrative leave while the attorney general continues to look into possible criminal conduct related to workers’ compensation he claimed. Warfle was placed on administrative leave in October.
Asked Thursday how the department would handle a criminal review of those named in the lawsuit, Baker declined to comment and referred questions on the issue to former city attorney Andrew Costello who continues to handle the case involving Todd.
Costello could not be reached Thursday.
Reached Thursday, Gallipo said she hadn’t heard anything from the attorney general’s office yet but was glad to hear that the union’s concerns were being addressed. The union president said last week that her members decided to ask the attorney general to review the complaints because there was no other agency in the city that could conduct the inquiry.
“Normally you go up the chain of command, but they’re all named in the lawsuit,” she said last week. “It’s just disappointing being held to a higher level than they hold themselves.”