It had all the ingredients of a teenage caper: eggs, alcohol, and a little red getaway car.
But when the Framingham police responded to a call just before 2 a.m. last month that a house had been egged, the culprits weren’t juveniles, but experienced, off-duty Newton police officers.
One of the Newton officers was drunk. The vandals’ target was their boss, a Newton sergeant who lives in Framingham. And the wannabe pranksters had dumped the evidence — an empty carton of eggs — in plain sight in the back of their car.
Five Newton officers are being disciplined for their part in the egging incident, Newton interim Police Chief Howard Mintz said Friday. The officers have apologized to the sergeant and hired a company to power-wash his house and clean his car.
“They all admitted their role,” Mintz said. “They said they were terribly embarrassed by their behavior.”
The prank has also turned the glare once again on the Newton Police Department, which has suffered a series of embarrassments in recent months, including the firing last October of the previous police chief for unbecoming behavior.
“I’m disappointed in the behavior of our officers involved. We have a high level and standard of conduct in the city,” the mayor of Newton, Setti Warren, said of the egging incident. “That is why the chief is taking swift, deliberative action.”
According to Framingham police, at about 2 a.m. on Dec. 11, the Newton officers jumped out of a car and pelted their sergeant's house on Griffin Road with eggs.
Two of the pranksters raced away in the car.
A Framingham police officer was called to the neighborhood to check out a report of two teenagers egging a house. The Framingham officer stopped the red car a few blocks from the house and noticed the empty egg carton in the back.
The officer asked the driver if he had egged the house.
“He said he had,” and presented his driver’s license and Newton police identification to the Framingham officer, according to the police report. The driver told the police that they had been playing a joke on a co-worker.
“He stated it was just a prank between friends,” the report says.
The Framingham police officer let the two Newton officers drive away and went to check on the egged house. That’s when he discovered that the house belonged to a Newton police sergeant.
The sergeant, upon hearing that his officers were involved in the prank, said he wanted to handle it internally.
The Framingham police officer agreed and no charges were filed.
Later that night, as the Framingham officer patrolled the neighborhood, a man walking along the darkened street flagged him down. The man introduced himself as a Newton police officer and admitted that he had been with the other officers, but said he was unaware of any wrongdoing. He appeared to be drunk, according to the report.
Framingham police drove that officer back to his home in Natick.
Two other Newton police officers also participated in the egging and were in the neighborhood, although they weren’t mentioned in the Framingham police report. Their role came to light when Newton police conducted an internal investigation of the egging and as gossip about the incident spread through the police department, Mintz said.
The overwhelming evidence from the officers suggests that they were trying to play a joke, Mintz said.
They all lived in Framingham or Natick and said they were friends, Mintz said.
“It wasn’t any kind of retaliation,” he said.
Still, Mintz said the behavior violated the agency’s conduct policies.
“People in police work get bored and there’s tremendous amount of stress and they joke with each other,” said Mintz. Still, their behavior was unusual and unacceptable, he said.
“I don’t think this is going to happen again,” he said.
Newton officials would not provide the names of the officers or specify how they were disciplined, saying it was a personnel matter.
However, two of the officers involved have been disciplined before and will receive harsher punishments, Mintz said.
The agency is also dealing separately with the off-duty officer who was drunk, he said.
Reached on Friday, the mayor sounded fatigued over the number of behavior issues that have involved the police department in recent months. The city has been billed as one of the safest in America.
A longtime secretary to police chiefs, Jeanne Sweeney Mooney, is facing a larceny charge and is accused of stealing $600 from the department. She has pleaded not guilty.
Former police chief Matthew Cummings was fired in October for allegedly making inappropriate comments to women, including Mooney.
The city is awaiting an investigative report due next week on a police captain who is also accused of making offensive comments to a female subordinate.
“I believe strongly that the majority of the officers do an outstanding job,” Warren said.