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State trooper charged in fatal crash suspended without pay

FRAMINGHAM — A Massachusetts State Police trooper, facing charges that include drunken driving in a Plymouth crash that killed a mother and daughter Sept. 22, was suspended without pay indefinitely Wednesday.

John J. Basler, 25, of Kingston will also be investigated by the department’s internal affairs section, State Police said after a closed-door hearing was held for Basler at State Police headquarters, authorities said.

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Basler, who has been hospitalized since the crash, did not attend the duty status hearing. His attorney declined to comment afterward.

According to Plymouth police, Basler was driving drunk shortly after midnight on Federal Furnace Road when his vehicle collided head-on with a vehicle carrying Susan Macchi, 64, and her daughter, Juliet, 23, both of Carver.

A funeral Mass will be said Thursday for Susan Macchi at the Church of St. Clare in Braintree, according to the Russell Peck Funeral Home, which is handling services.

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A separate service will be held for Juliet Macchi at a later date, according to the funeral home.

Basler has not yet been arraigned, but Police Chief Michael Botieri said Basler is currently charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, improper storage of a non-large-capacity firearm, and carrying a firearm while under the influence of liquor.

State Police said in the statement that their crash reconstruction team was still analyzing the event, and that when the team’s report was complete, it will be submitted to the Plymouth police and District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz’s office, “who will determine if additional criminal charges are warranted.”

Also Wednesday, State Police were reviewing procedures for disclosing when troopers are involved in major car crashes and other events after it took several days for them to acknowledge that Basler was involved.

The department has a history of disclosing when members are accused of a crime and might now extend that policy to announcing the involvement of troopersbefore they face criminal charges, said a spokesman for the State Police, David Procopio.

State Police did not disclose his involvement until Plymouth police announced Saturday that they were charging him. State Police command staff knew within a few hours after the crash that a trooper was involved, Procopio said.

He said that the State Police recognized the public might have questions about what caused the delay. “We are cognizant that there is a public question to whether we should have done that,” he said. “ Perhaps the public perception is correct — we should have been more prompt in putting that information out.”

Asked why the public was not notified sooner that a trooper was involved in the crash, Botieri, the Plymouth chief, said, “it appeared to be an accident” initially.

Regarding Basler’s employment, Botieri said, “I don’t see why that would be released” sooner, in light of the circumstances, including the fact that Basler was off duty at the time of the crash.

Asked whether Basler appeared intoxicated at the crash scene, the chief said, “We didn’t have any reason to believe he was at the time of the accident.”

Botieri declined to discuss why Basler was ultimately charged with drunken driving, but said more information will be available in court records.

An employee in the Plymouth District Court clerk’s office said Wednesday afternoon that records in Basler’s case were not yet available, because the office was still processing them.

An arraignment date has not been set, the employee said.

Botieri said that the investigation is ongoing and that additional charges are possible.

The Registry of Motor Vehicles said Basler’s driver’s license was suspended because of his involvement in a fatal car crash.

He joined the department in 2012 and was assigned to the Troop H-7 barracks in Milton.

Travis Andersen of the Globe staff contributed to this report. John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@
globe.com
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