The former head of the Methuen police union was terminated on Thursday after city investigations concluded that he lied repeatedly to hide the involvement of former Chief Joseph Solomon in the drafting of a fraudulent union contract that could have paid some captains more than $500,000 a year.
Gregory Gallant, the former head of the superior officers union, has been on paid administrative leave since December 2020, when state Inspector General Glenn Cunha found that Gallant and Solomon violated their duty to the public by secretly drafting contracts that paid him and other senior officers excessive salaries without the knowledge of city officials.
The current Methuen police chief, Scott McNamara, conducted his own investigation, concluding that Gallant lied during Cunha’s investigation, mostly to cover up Solomon’s hands-on involvement in the drafting of the contract.
“By attempting to shield Solomon’s central role in the fraudulent effort to increase police officers’ compensation, Gallant knowingly misrepresented the nature and extent of the imprimatur that Solomon, then Gallant’s boss, placed on Gallant’s deceit,” wrote McNamara in his 16-page report.
He found that Solomon was integrally involved in constructing a contract that would have triggered enormous pay raises annually for senior officers, including himself.
Gallant’s deceit, he wrote. “would facilitate a significant, unwarranted compensation increase for Solomon.”
Gallant’s attorney James Simpson promised to fight Thursday’s firing.
“He denies any wrongdoing and he is going to contest the city’s decision either through arbitration or civil service,” said Simpson in a statement.
Solomon did not respond to a request for comment.
But city councilors praised McNamara’s work -- and his firing of Gallant.
“Captain Gallant’s termination was a long time coming,” said Council Chairman D.J. Beauregard. “Chief McNamara’s report outlines a clear pattern of breathtaking deceit.”
“It’s about damn time,” added city councilor Joel Faretra. ”Hopefully this is just the beginning. Hopefully the state and federal government are watching. I feel like there was definitely criminal activity here.”
The Globe has reported that a federal grand jury has been looking into the negotiating of the contract in 2017. The pact was approved by city officials, but never implemented. An arbitrator ruled earlier this year that city officials didn’t understand the potential impact of the contract and did not have to abide by its terms.
To conduct his investigation, McNamara compared Gallant’s testimony before the state inspector general with his testimony before the arbitrator. While he told Cunha that Solomon played no role in the creation of the exorbitant contract, he told the arbitrator that Solomon was directly involved.
Gallant may have thought his testimony before the IG would be confidential, as most IG proceedings are. But McNamara obtained the transcripts and discovered yawning contradictions.
Speaking to the inspector general’s investigators, ”Gallant went to great lengths to minimize Solomon’s involvement in the negotiation and contract formulation process,” wrote McNamara. “However, during the arbitration, Gallant states Solomon would have been providing advice on budgetary items throughout the negotiating process.”
Solomon was the only member of the city’s management team to receive any draft copies of the contract, McNamara wrote. Gallant admitted to the arbitrator that he “went back and forth” with Solomon as he edited the now discredited contract.
Solomon did not testify before Cunha, McNamara wrote, and took the fifth amendment against self-incrimination before the arbitrator.
A lawyer hired by the city after Gallant appealed McNamara’s findings, fully supported McNamara’s conclusions, officials said.
Mayor Neil Perry said Gallant “was afforded appropriate due process. Police Chief Scott McNamara oversaw a thorough investigation which has concluded, the results of which justify the termination action taken today.”
With his firing, Gallant will no longer receive the weekly paycheck of around $2,700 that he has been collecting for a year and a half while on administrative leave.
City councilors hailed Gallant’s removal, saying it could signal the end of a scandal-ridden era in Methuen.
“After four years we are one step closer to closing the door for good on one of the most tumultuous times in city history,” said Councilor Steve Saba.
Solomon, who retired last year after running the Methuen police department for nearly two decades, has long insisted he did nothing wrong,
The ongoing federal investigation came after years of controversy around Solomon’s leadership and his pay. In a city of only 53,000, Solomon earned $326,707 in 2019, which made him one of the nation’s most highly compensated law enforcement officials.
Andrea Estes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.