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Two police officers leave unexpectedly

Two top Newton Police Department officers, who were part of a controversial investigation into the former chief’s secretary, cleaned out their offices and unexpectedly left last week, officials said.

The departures of Lieutenant Edward Aucoin, the head of the department’s internal affairs office, and Lieutenant Hugh Downing, its chief executive officer, are among the latest shakeups on the police force.

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Downing could not be reached for comment last week. A woman who answered the phone at Aucoin’s house said he wasn’t available for comment.

Police Chief Howard Mintz said he arrived at work Wednesday to find letters from the two men stating that they will be using accrued time off, and their offices empty.

Mintz said he wasn’t expecting their departures, “not the way it unfolded.” The men continue to be department employees, and haven’t officially resigned or retired, he said.

Mintz, who was named chief in April after Matthew Cummings was fired from the position, is conducting a 40-day review of the department. He said he has considered transferring Aucoin and Downing out of their administrative roles and into the patrol officer’s pay structure. It is unclear whether they would earn less money.

Aucoin has been with the city for 33 years and was paid $130,163 last year. Downing, with almost 30 years of service on the police force, received $118,148 last year.

Both men were part of the investigation involving Jeanne Sweeney Mooney when she was secretary for Cummings, and testified against her during her trial for larceny of over $250. She was accused of taking cash that the department collected through permit fees.

A jury acquitted Mooney last month. She has filed a federal lawsuit against the city, contending that the mayor and several Police Department employees violated her privacy rights, and illegally retaliated against her for speaking out.

The role played by Aucoin and Downing in the Mooney case was not “directly related” to his plan to move them, Mintz said.

“I’ve been supportive of both individuals,” the chief said. “There is a time for changes to be made.”

Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes@
globe.com
. Follow her on Twitter @fernandesglobe.
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