A Boston police officer has been sentenced to two months in jail after being found guilty of intentionally buying hundreds of dollars worth of Home Depot gift cards from an employee allegedly running a theft-and-return scheme.
A jury on Monday found Officer Mila DePina-Cooley, 49, guilty of three counts of receiving stolen property over $250. Suffolk Superior Judge Michael Ricciuti sentenced her on Tuesday to a six-month suspended sentence, in which DePina-Cooley would serve 60 days in the Suffolk County House of Correction then a year’s probation in order to avoid serving the rest.
The police department suspended DePina-Cooley in 2017, when the charges were filed, according to court records. In a statement Tuesday, a department spokesperson said “further action is expected” in terms of her employment.
“It is unfortunate that an officer chose to violate the public trust in this way and we will take appropriate action,” Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox said Tuesday.
DePina-Cooley’s attorneys have filed a notice that she plans to appeal. Her lawyer didn’t immediately respond to a message left with her office.
The officer’s case has spent the past six years winding its way through an appeals process that saw the indictments against her thrown out and then reinstated.
According to a higher court’s summary of the charges, a grand jury indicted DePina-Cooley on allegations that she intentionally bought gift cards in 2010 and 2011 that a Home Depot employee had stolen. The Home Depot employee — a gang member who’d been under federal investigation, according to filings from the prosecution and defense — had people who’d buy items to at discount then return them for the full amount of cash.
Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden’s office wrote in a sentencing memorandum that the police officer “repeatedly lied” to investigators.
“The FBI intercepted her phone calls, and they showed she knew the cards were stolen,” Hayden’s office wrote. “In fact, she had the audacity to complain that Home Depot recorded her license information when she returned several items. The defendant also sought to buy stolen iPads.”
DePina-Cooley’s attorneys countered that “She has actively participated in socialized behavior for her entire life. Her good ‘‘moral propensities’ and hard work are well-known to the community. The incident here does not stem from a criminal past or any ‘criminal leanings.’”
Boston Detective Jeffrey Lopes, the head of the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers, wrote in a letter of support that even while she was suspended, DePina-Cooley “continued to work for the betterment of our city and its communities in whatever manner she could.”
Her attorneys also noted that the gang member allegedly at the center of the scheme had been involved in a Boston Police corruption case before. DePina-Cooley’s attorney wrote in the sentencing memorandum that one of the detectives in that case, after pleading guilty to a federal crime, was sentenced to probation.
DePina-Cooley’s lawyers, adding that she’ll lose her pension, had asked for a year of probation with no jail time, while Hayden’s office had sought for her to serve 75 days plus a year’s suspended sentence.