A former Stoneham police officer was arrested Friday for allegedly defrauding three of his landlords, according to a statement from US Attorney Rachael Rollins’s office.
Robert Kennedy, a detective sergeant who worked for the Stoneham Police Department from January 2001 until this February, owes his most recent landlord $14,000, according to an FBI affidavit calling him a “serial debt fraudster.”
Kennedy is charged with wire fraud after allegedly providing false information in rental applications to fraudulently obtain multiple apartment leases and intentionally withholding rent payments for those apartments, Rollins’s office said.
The FBI affidavit also listed six civil complaints brought against Kennedy in the past two decades by private companies, a landlord, and his spouse. One was settled out of court, another was dismissed after both parties refused to show up to court, and in four cases, Kennedy was ordered to pay between $1,200 and $5,800.
A joint statement from Dennis Sheehan, Stoneham town administrator, and James McIntyre, Stoneham police chief, announced Kennedy resigned Feb. 23 following notice of an internal investigation into a history of civil claims against him.
“The Town of Stoneham is grateful to the US Attorney’s Office in Boston and to the FBI for their diligent work on this matter,” the statement read. “The Town and the Stoneham Police Department will continue to cooperate with their investigation as the case progresses.”
Rollins’s statement on Friday said that Kennedy obscured his history of evictions, delinquent payments, collections, and defaults by allegedly reporting the social security number and date of birth of a relative with the same first and last name to his most recent landlord in the rental application.
After a rental application for an apartment in Reading was rejected in October 2021 because of Kennedy’s poor credit and bankruptcy history, he wrote the assistant property manager of the building, claiming he was “a victim of identity theft from a family member,” and that he made “more than enough money to afford the apartment,” according to federal court records.
But despite receiving an annual salary between $141,000 and $187,000 from the Stoneham Police Department, Kennedy allegedly immediately violated the terms of the lease by withholding rent, living in multiple apartments rent-free by giving landlords bad checks and taking advantage of slow eviction processes.
According to the affidavit supporting a complaint against Kennedy by Special Agent Kristen Feldmann, who is assigned to the Boston division of the FBI’s public corruption and civil rights squad, Kennedy has a history of evading financial responsibilities dating back more than two decades.
Before defrauding his landlords, Kennedy used “lies and deception to obtain and maintain his housing without making payments,” the affidavit said.
Additionally, Kennedy’s girlfriend, who applied alongside him to share a two-bedroom apartment in Stoneham in February 2020, repeatedly filed fraudulent applications for housing assistance, omitting Kennedy as a member of the household and falsely stating his income to further delay the eviction process after months of withholding rent, according to the affidavit.
The Stoneham Police Department assisted the FBI in Kennedy’s arrest. He appeared in a federal court in Boston Friday morning and faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.
John R. Ellement, of the Globe staff, contributed to this report.
Sonel Cutler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @cutler_sonel.