Metro

State Police trooper admits getting free guns, is cooperating in criminal probe

A Massachusetts State Police trooper has admitted receiving free guns from a state-contracted firearms dealer and is cooperating with prosecutors in an ongoing criminal investigation into the sale of department weapons, according to two people familiar with the probe.
John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/File 2018
A Massachusetts State Police trooper has admitted receiving free guns from a state-contracted firearms dealer and is cooperating with prosecutors in an ongoing criminal investigation into the sale of department weapons, according to two people familiar with the probe.

A Massachusetts State Police trooper has admitted receiving free guns from a state-contracted firearms dealer and is cooperating with prosecutors in an ongoing criminal investigation into the sale of department weapons, according to two people familiar with the probe.

Trooper Robert Outwater testified earlier this month before a state grand jury investigating allegations of wrongdoing involving at least two former troopers who worked alongside Outwater in the armorer’s unit, the sources said.

Attorney General Maura Healey’s office launched the investigation two years ago into allegations that the three troopers sold about 500 used State Police guns to a Greenfield firearms dealer in 2015 on behalf of the department. The troopers allegedly received nearly two dozen of those weapons as personal gifts, the Globe reported at the time.

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The probe is focusing on whether the former troopers, Michael Wilmot and Lieutenant Paul Wosny, violated the law by receiving guns after negotiating the deal with the company, Jurek Brothers, sources said. No charges have been filed.

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Wilmot’s attorney, Daniel J. Moynihan, said the trooper did nothing wrong and is being unfairly blamed for the failings of State Police higher-ups.

“The armorer’s office was another example of a complete lack of management on the part of the command staff,” Moynihan said.

The three-member armorer’s unit maintains the department’s massive inventory of weapons, ammunition, and body armor.

Outwater signed an agreement in September with Healey’s office, which agreed not to seek criminal charges against him in exchange for his cooperation, the sources said. He acknowledged he violated state ethics law by accepting 10 guns from Jurek Brothers and paid a $5,000 civil fine, they said.

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Outwater’s attorney declined to comment on the case Tuesday.

Records regarding Outwater’s agreement with prosecutors and his ethics violation have not been made public.

Emalie Gainey, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, declined to comment, citing “an ongoing criminal investigation.” MassLive first reported last week that a grand jury was looking into the years-old allegations.

To date, no criminal charges have been brought against anyone as a result of the gun sales.

The state’s largest law enforcement agency has been embroiled in several recent scandals, including allegations that about 40 troopers were paid thousands of dollars for overtime that they didn’t work. Four current and former troopers were recently charged with embezzlement as a result of an ongoing federal investigation.

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State Police suspended Outwater, Wosny, and Wilmot in September 2016 when allegations involving the guns surfaced and referred the matter to Healey’s office, according to agency spokesman David Procopio.

Outwater remains suspended without pay. Wosny and Wilmot retired shortly after they were suspended, Procopio said.

Wilmot’s lawyer, Moynihan, said it’s unfair that the investigation into the gun sales has focused on the troopers, while high-ranking officers “completely mismanaged” the unit.

Moynihan declined to comment on whether Wilmot received free guns. He said there were no written policies or procedures for trading in used guns, and Wilmot, a longtime member of the unit, followed practices that he’d been taught during training.

Needham attorney Timothy Burke, who represents Wosny, said his client had been an exemplary member of the State Police and had no prior history of discipline.

“We are certainly not aware of any inappropriate conduct on his part,” Burke said.

The Globe revealed in September 2016 that Healey’s office was investigating the armorer’s unit’s controversial gun deal with Jurek Brothers the previous summer.

Investigators examined how some 500 guns — an assortment of pistols, rifles, and other firearms — were tagged as surplus and traded to Jurek Brothers.

Jurek Brothers, which has a contract to supply firearms to State Police, did not pay for the hundreds of used firearms but instead gave the department a credit toward the purchase of new weapons, according to the sources familiar with the probe.

The investigation has looked at whether Outwater, Wilmot, and Wosny were authorized to negotiate the deal and whether the state received sufficient compensation for the weapons, according to several people familiar with the investigation.

Lawyers for the troopers previously said it was common practice for decades for the armorer’s unit to trade old guns to companies contracted to sell the department new ones.

However, the state’s conflict of interest law prohibits state employees from receiving gifts or gratuities valued at more than $50 either to influence their official actions or because of their position.

State Police, citing the ongoing investigation, have denied requests for records detailing the department guns sold to Jurek Brothers and how much the company paid for them.

Jurek Brothers has a three-year contract through the end of October to supply firearms, ammunition, and equipment to State Police, the Department of Correction, and the Environmental Police.

Procopio, the State Police spokesman, said the agency stopped doing business with the company when the allegations surfaced two years ago. Other law enforcement agencies continue to make purchases from the dealer.

Thomas Merrigan, an attorney for Jurek Brothers, said Friday that the company’s contract with the state remains “active and ongoing.” He declined to comment on the state grand jury investigation, but said, “There’s been no wrongdoing by Jurek Brothers.”

Jurek Brothers was previously at the center of a fraud investigation for allegedly giving personal benefits, including a trip to Florida and hundreds of dollars worth of Omaha Steaks, to a Department of Correction lieutenant who served as the agency’s purchasing agent.

Gary Mendes pleaded guilty in 2011 to procurement fraud and conflict of interest and larceny, and was placed on probation.

No charges were brought against Jurek Brothers. Overall, the state has paid the company $2.95 million since 2010, according to purchasing records.

Shelley Murphy can be reached at shelley.murphy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shelleymurph.