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Police say Medford officer misled during murder investigation

A Medford police officer has been indicted on charges alleging that he tried to cover up a planned drug deal that led to a fatal shooting at his Stoneham home in July, then lied to investigators after the killing.

Miguel Lopez, 53, was indicted Thursday by a Middlesex County grand jury on two counts of witness intimidation in connection with the investigation into the shooting death of 27-year-old Army veteran Joseph Puopolo on July 3, District Attorney Marian T. Ryan said in a statement.

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Lopez is accused of removing evidence from the home where the shooting occurred, Ryan’s office said. Prosecutors say Lopez lied to State Police in interviews shortly after the shooting, although prosecutors did not disclose the nature of those statements.

Puopolo died from the injuries in the shooting; a 28-year-old victim was shot in the abdomen and later released from the hospital. The second victim’s name has not been released.

That victim, who lived with Lopez, allegedly arranged to sell drugs to Jessie Williams, 24, of Medford and Eugene Tate, 19, of Malden at the Stoneham home. But when Williams and Tate entered the home, they drew handguns on Puopolo and the other man, demanded drugs and money, then shot them, prosecutors said.

Puopolo was not involved in the drug deal, according to prosecutors.

A spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office refused to specify the relationship between Lopez and the unidentified shooting victim.

Williams and Tate were arrested July 7. They were indicted Thursday on charges of murder, armed assault with intent to murder, armed assault in a dwelling, assault with a dangerous weapon, armed robbery, and illegal possession of a firearm, prosecutors said.

Medford City Solicitor Mark Rumley said the city was preparing to take action on Lopez’s employment status in the Police Department Thursday, but he refused to elaborate.

“Action is being taken, but I’d rather the police chief discuss it than I,” Rumley said.

Chief Leo Sacco did not respond to repeated requests for comment Thursday.

State law calls for public employees to be suspended without pay if they face indictment alleging misconduct in connection with their employment.

Williams and Tate have been held without bail since an initial arraignment July 8 in Woburn District Court. An arraignment date for Lopez had not been set by Thursday afternoon, according to the Middlesex Superior Court clerk’s office.

Jarret Bencks can be reached at bencks.globe@gmail.com.
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