Report criticizes ex-State Police head for arrest report rewrite
Wrapping up a five-month investigation, Attorney General Maura Healey won’t seek criminal charges against former top State Police officials who ordered a trooper to remove embarrassing details from the arrest report of a judge’s daughter. But Healey will ask the state Ethics Commission to review the case for possible conflict of interest violations, according to a report released by her office Friday.
A separate review, conducted by an outside investigator at the request of the Massachusetts State Police, found that then-colonel Richard McKeon used “flawed judgment” when he ordered a trooper to alter the report on the judge’s daughter, Alli Bibaud, who was arrested in October in Worcester for operating under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
McKeon and the command staff “eroded confidence in the management abilities of the [State Police,] both within the organization and among the public,” former state public safety secretary Kevin P. Burke wrote in his report, also released Friday. He called McKeon’s actions “unprecedented.”
The findings of the two investigations provide the first detailed timeline of a scandal that triggered the retirements of four top State Police officials. The reports show prosecutors and judges went out of their way to help the daughter of a friend, Timothy Bibaud, chief judge of the Dudley District Court.
Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. asked a reluctant McKeon to change Bibaud’s arrest report, which noted Bibaud had said she traded sex for heroin, according to Healey’s report. McKeon then issued an order that was passed down through the ranks. The result: an edited report and discipline for Trooper Ryan Sceviour for including “inappropriate commentary,” the report said.
Sceviour filed a federal lawsuit alleging he was given illegal orders to change official documents. The discipline levied against Sceviour has since been rescinded.
McKeon and his second in command, Francis Hughes, retired abruptly in November after the Globe disclosed the altered report. In February, two more officials involved in the case — Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Risteen, the third in command, and Major Susan Anderson — also retired. Attorneys for the four former officials could not be reached or declined to comment.
McKeon suggested at the time that he was just treating a victim of opioid addiction with sensitivity and respect and said he told troopers “more times than I can remember” to focus their reports only on the charges against the individual.
Attorney Lenny Kesten, who represents Sceviour, said the latest findings “make clear” that McKeon’s assertion is false. Troopers are never asked to change reports once they are filed, Kesten said.
Kerry A. Gilpin succeeded McKeon as head of the State Police and tapped Burke to conduct an administrative review. Burke recommended the department start leadership training and hire consultants to help change the agency’s “culture.”
In the attorney general’s report, Healey didn’t find evidence that officials were seeking to derail or undermine the case against Bibaud.
“While the revisions to the police report raise questions under our state ethics laws, we found that they were not made with criminal intent to prejudice Bibaud’s prosecution,” Healey said in a written statement.
Healey’s office also found that McKeon’s agency laptop, tablet, and cellphone were all erased prematurely. The agency typically strips the devices 30 days after an employee’s departure.
Healey’s office, however, had concerns about possible ethics violations, which it did not describe, and referred the matter to the state Ethics Commission. The commission can impose fines of up to $10,000 per violation.
Governor Charlie Baker said Friday that he and Gilpin are implementing changes to restore public confidence in the state’s largest law enforcement agency.
Asked about the findings implicating McKeon and Early, the Worcester County DA, Baker told reporters: “It was a mistake for McKeon to do it, and obviously, I would argue that it was a mistake for Early to do it, too.”
Baker said the voters will decide in November whether Early, an elected official, keeps his job.
The investigative reports released Friday show that officials started taking steps the day after Bibaud was arrested on Oct. 16.
Judge Bibaud initially texted Edward Karcasinas, the first assistant in the Worcester district attorney’s office, where the judge had worked as a prosecutor. Next, Bibaud texted Worcester District Court Judge David Despotopulos, who spoke with fellow Worcester Judge Michael G. Allard-Madaus, a “close personal friend” of Judge Bibaud, Healey’s report says.
The report notes Allard-Madaus offered to help Alli Bibaud find a lawyer.
Meanwhile, another top Worcester County prosecutor, Jeffrey Travers, alerted Early about Bibaud’s arrest. Then, Early reached out to McKeon.
McKeon first said he thought it was too late to change the report because it had already been filed. “That ship had sailed,” he said, according to Healey’s report. But Early persuaded him to have a new report created.
“I was led to believe that everything that I was about to do was not only the right thing, but it was the appropriate thing to do,” McKeon told Healey’s office.
In a written statement, Tim Connolly, communications director for Early’s office, said everyone in the office acted lawfully.
“All standard protocols were followed and applied appropriately as they are for all cases, including the requirement . . . to avoid any public condemnation of a defendant,” Connolly said.
Under the state conflict of interest law, it is a violation to use one’s public position to get a benefit not available to the general public.
“The ethics violations are rampant on everyone’s behalf,” said Kesten, trooper Sceviour’s attorney. “This only happened because she was a judge’s daughter and they knew the judge. The motivation for all these actions was to provide an unwarranted privilege — favors — for connected people. The only people who recognized this was illegal were the troopers,” he said.
The scandal over the altered report was the first in a series that have plagued the State Police in recent months.
Meanwhile, Bibaud, 30, entered rehab after her arrest. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 14 months’ probation. She had her license suspended for a year and was ordered to complete a residential treatment program.
John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Estes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.