State trooper placed on paid leave after internal affairs investigation
As a coconspirator in a massive drug case, Leigha Genduso testified in federal court in 2007 about how she helped her live-in boyfriend deal marijuana and hide evidence.
She acknowledged laundering money, smoking pot every day, and gift-wrapping pounds of marijuana for her own customer, court records show, but evaded criminal charges in exchange for testifying against her former fiance.
Just a year later, Genduso was on the other side of the law, hired as a dispatcher for the Massachusetts State Police. And since 2014, she has served as a state trooper.
Earlier this week, the State Police placed Genduso, 36, on paid administrative leave and launched an internal investigation into her hiring after details of her past were posted Monday on a blog, Turtleboysports.com.
Police declined Thursday to release details on the investigation or answer questions about how someone involved in such a high-profile criminal case — investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration with help from State Police — could get hired and promoted within the agency.
“The department has opened an Internal Affairs investigation, the results of which will determine whether further action will be taken,’’ State Police spokesman David Procopio said in a statement.
Neither Genduso nor the lawyer appointed to represent her in the internal proceedings could be reached for comment Thursday.
Genduso earned $151,694 in 2017, state records show. It’s unclear how she passed a background check, which includes questions about whether an applicant has ever used or possessed marijuana and other drugs. Procopio declined to comment on whether Genduso disclosed her criminal past.
However, federal filings and court testimony in the case of Genduso’s former boyfriend, Sean Bucci, have been publicly available for the last decade. Genduso was a key witness.
Procopio said State Police “conduct rigorous background checks” on potential employees, which include lengthy written applications; oral interviews; checks of criminal, driving, and credit histories; questions about use of controlled substances; and interviews with previous employers, known acquaintances, and references.
That process “is followed for all candidates, as it was for Trooper Genduso,” Procopio said. “If during that process the department learns of any information that disqualifies the candidate for employment, the candidate will not be hired.”
Procopio declined to comment further, citing the pending internal investigation.
Bucci’s drug trafficking trial drew significant media attention, in part because Bucci angered law enforcement authorities by creating and promoting an online website that outed alleged informants.
Court records show Bucci was a large-scale marijuana dealer from the late 1990s to 2003. He was sentenced to 10 years for conspiracy to distribute over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, money laundering, and tax evasion, court records show. He was ordered to forfeit $2.7 million, his North Reading home, a car, and a boat.
Testifying over two days, Genduso said she was a 19-year-old waitress, living on her own, when she met Bucci, a disc jockey. She said she learned he was a marijuana dealer after they had been dating a while and she soon became enmeshed in his business.
Genduso said she moved into his North Reading home around 2000, smoked marijuana “basically every day,” and watched Bucci’s supplier pull a truck into the garage of their home and offload 200 pounds of marijuana at a time.
“A lot of times I helped him break up the bales to be able to put them into pounds,” Genduso said, according to a transcript of her testimony.
Genduso said she used a money machine to count the cash Bucci earned from selling drugs, and often deposited it into the bank for him in increments of just under $10,000.
Between 2002 and 2003, she branched out on her own, delivering 10 pounds of marijuana at a time to a customer in Worcester. To avoid detection, she said in court, “I would put it in boxes and then wrap them up as presents.”
Genduso testified that at Bucci’s urging in 2003, she fled their home with a box stuffed with $275,000 in cash just before the house was raided. She said she used some of the money to hire lawyers to represent her and Bucci.
Genduso was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony and was never charged. She testified in 2007 that she hadn’t used or sold marijuana since 2003 and broke up with Bucci the following year.
In 2008, the year after her testimony, Genduso was hired as a dispatcher for the State Police, according to the department. She held that job for five years and was credited by the State Police in 2009 with helping rescue a distraught kidnap victim by calmly talking to her and eventually helping the woman contact law enforcement.
She became a trooper in 2014 and has been one of the department’s K-9 troopers. In postings on its Web page, the department credited Genduso and her canine partner with tracking down a break-in suspect in Foxborough and with capturing suspects in Canton and Peabody.
According to State Police records obtained by the Globe under the state Freedom of Information Act, an internal affairs complaint filed against Genduso in 2016 was sustained by her supervisors. She was found to have violated department policies and procedures, although the records currently available do not identify what the violations were.