A former Boston police detective who conspired with a fellow officer to obstruct an FBI inquiry into the Academy Homes Street Gang was sentenced in federal court Friday to one year of probation and a fine of $5,000, according to prosecutors.
Brian Smigielski, 43, of Norton, pleaded guilty in September 2015 to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States during the course of a federal investigation, after trying to block the investigation into the violent narcotics-trafficking gang, which operated out of the Academy Homes housing development in Roxbury, prosecutors said in a statement.
"Obviously, there's a court record, and it speaks for itself," said Smigielski's attorney, Edward McNelley, in a brief phone interview, declining to speak about his client's feelings on his sentence. "I'd just say he was a good policeman, that's all. He was a great policeman, a great detective."
Between 2009 and 2011, the FBI and Boston Police Department were conducting a joint investigation into the Academy Homes gang, and initially Smigielski was the lead investigator. But in late 2009, according to officials, he became upset after being ordered to turn over the investigation to the FBI and other police units. He began working with the other officer and gang members to hinder the investigation, according to officials.
The other officer, who court documents identify as Mel Steele, was sentenced in April 2015 to a year of probation and fined $2,000 for lying to federal agents.
In January 2010, according to the sentencing document, Smigielski and Steele met with two gang members, Owens Brown and Lamar Axell, at a downtown bar. Smigielski told Brown the "feds" were looking at him, and Steele told Axell to avoid Brown.
In September 2010, at Axell's request, Steele ran a license plate belonging to an unmarked police surveillance vehicle watching Brown, according to the document.
In December 2010, Brown and Smigielski had a 12-minute phone conversation that Smigielski never reported to his superiors, according to the document.
In April 2011, police stopped Brown as part of the investigation, and he asked them if they knew "Steele" or "Smiddy." Within days, the document states, Smigielski met with Brown and told him that he was likely being physically identified by law enforcement in preparation for his imminent arrest. Brown was arrested the next month.
The sentencing document depicts Smigielski as an otherwise good police officer whose actions were out of character and motivated by a bruised ego.
"Mr. Smigielski . . . was a hard working decorated investigator with the Boston Police Department," the document states. "It was his initial investigation and work which was turned over to the FBI and the BPD Special Investigations Unit. . . . Mr. Smigielski's injured pride led to his actions."
It notes that Smigielski had won many awards during his career, and had been injured three times in the line of duty.
Smigielski received nothing for himself in return for his indiscretions, the document states, and had taken responsibility for his actions; he lost the job he loved, as well as his pension and disability pay.
In letters of support attached to the document, friends and co-workers described Smigielski as a respected officer and devoted father who coached children's sports teams and in his children's schools as a homeroom parent.
"I can tell Brian regrets whatever decision he had made at that time and is paying for it dearly while living it each day," wrote a woman who coached baseball and softball with him, recounting a recent chance meeting at a Target store. "I could see in his eyes and his non-smiling gestures that he is really bothered, down — not the same Brian at heart he has always been. I am sure he wants to put all this behind him and move forward with his family."