The former president of the Massachusetts State Police union was arrested Wednesday on federal conspiracy and obstruction charges for allegedly taking kickbacks from a Boston lobbyist and tapping union coffers as “his own personal piggy bank.”
Dana A. Pullman, 57, the head of the State Police Association of Massachusetts from 2012 until he retired last September, spent thousands of union dollars on meals, travel, flowers, and gifts for someone he was having a romantic relationship with, an FBI agent wrote in a criminal complaint.
Also charged Wednesday was the union’s former lobbyist, Anne M. Lynch, 68, who allegedly paid Pullman thousands of dollars in kickbacks for steering business to her firm.
Pullman “wielded the union like a criminal enterprise, running it like an old-school mob boss,” Joseph R. Bonavolonta, the FBI special agent in charge of the Boston office, said at a morning news conference.
Pullman and Lynch were both arrested Wednesday morning in their homes. In the early afternoon, they made initial appearances in US District Court in Boston and were released. US Magistrate Judge Jennifer C. Boal ordered them to surrender their passports and to have no contact with each other or any witnesses.
The corruption charges are the latest scandal involving the troubled agency, which has been rocked by accusations that dozens of troopers collected pay for hours they never worked. The scandals have implicated 46 troopers; eight have pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges and two others face charges.
“Today’s arrests unfortunately overshadow the majority of hard-working, honest state troopers who go to work every day with the best interests of our communities at heart,” Bonavolonta said. “We believe both Pullman and Lynch lied, cheated, and tried to obstruct our investigation at the expense of those hard-working troopers and taxpayers.”
In a statement, the head of the State Police said the agency is cooperating with the year-old federal investigation.
Pullman is accused of embezzling union funds to pay for $9,300 in flowers and gift baskets from Winston Flowers for friends and family, including about $4,400 for a person Pullman was having an affair with; $3,600 for a trip to Miami Beach with the same person; $2,000 in iTunes charges; and $8,000 for restaurant visits, including a $468 lunch with $150 caviar in New York, records show.
In 2016, Pullman allegedly received $40,000 from the union for expense reimbursements, even though he had submitted less than $9,000 in “purported” work expenses, investigators wrote in a criminal complaint.
He also encouraged members of the union board to submit false expense reports to defray the cost of political contributions they were “expected to make,” the complaint stated. The investigation into Pullman began in July 2018 as a probe into whether the union was reimbursing members for political contributions, but within a few months had broadened its scope, officials said.
Pullman’s lawyer, Martin G. Weinberg, said his client “will strongly and vigorously deny today’s allegations.”
“The centerpiece of the government’s case is a series of legitimate checks that in no way constitutes a kickback or a bribe,” he said. “Dana Pullman was a highly successful president of the Massachusetts State Police union for six years and never acted in a manner that compromised his loyalty to his union.”
Weinberg said the FBI’s comment that Pullman ran the union “like an old-school mob boss” was an “outrageous mischaracterization.”
Lynch’s lawyer, Scott Lopez, said via e-mail that his client will also fight the charges.
“Today, at approximately 6:45 am, six FBI agents arrested Anne Lynch, a recently retired 68 year old grandmother of eight at her home,” Lopez wrote. “After her initial appearance, she was released by the Court on an unsecured bond. The law presumes Ms. Lynch to be innocent and she intends to vigorously fight the allegations against her. She looks forward to defending herself in Court at the appropriate time.”
Meanwhile, the current union president said the labor group is “appalled” by the allegations.
“In the first 60 days after I took office, I replaced all of the professional services providers, including our lobbyist,” State Police Sergeant Mark Lynch said in a statement. “Based upon the new team’s recommendations, we instituted accounting, auditing and oversight procedures to ensure the integrity of all of our systems.” He is not related to Anne Lynch.
Anne Lynch’s lobbying firm — Lynch Associates Inc. — did work for the union, and she allegedly funneled kickbacks to Pullman in exchange for him steering billable hours and clients her way, prosecutors said.
Pullman is also accused of pressuring Axon, formerly known as Taser, into hiring Lynch’s lobbying firm, even though the company already had local lobbyists on retainer, records show. After the company hired Lynch Associates, he helped set up a meeting in February 2016, with Thomas Turco, then an undersecretary of criminal justice for the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. Turco now leads the same office.
Four days after the meeting, Lynch wrote Pullman a $5,000 check, records show.
Two years earlier, Pullman allegedly leaned on the union’s treasurer to issue a $250,000 check to Lynch’s firm for the work it did in negotiating a $22 million settlement with the state to compensate troopers who had worked on days off, according to the complaint.
When the treasurer protested that the union, which had already paid $100,000 to Lynch’s firm, was “getting screwed,” Pullman replied, “Stop breaking my [expletive] balls and give me the check!” the complaint stated.
The check was issued to Lynch’s firm, records show. She later wrote a check for $20,000 to Pullman’s spouse, which was classified as a payment for consulting work, the complaint said.
Greg D’Agostino, Anne Lynch’s son and a partner at the lobbying firm she founded, distanced the company from Lynch.
“Anne Lynch is no longer affiliated with Lynch Associates and has had no ownership interest in the firm since 2016,” D’Agostino said in a statement, which did not mention that they are related. “She performed consulting services for a limited number of clients until 2018. At Lynch Associates, we take pride in our integrity and dedication to our clients.”
On Wednesday, her biography no longer appeared on the firm’s website.
A biography on her LinkedIn page says she has more than 40 years of experience in Massachusetts, and has represented a number of trade associations including the Public Relations Society, the New England Hospital Association, and the Independent Auto Dealers Association.
Pullman resigned as union president last September, citing “personal reasons,” and weeks later retired as a trooper after three decades on the job. He left those jobs amid a federal probe into alleged financial wrongdoing at the union, which represents about 1,900 troopers and sergeants of the 2,150-member law enforcement agency.
Pullman was paid $71,000 annually as union president and $91,000 as a trooper.
The union president is expected to call for a vote next week on whether to keep paying Pullman’s lawyer from union funds.
In January, members voted to pay the legal bills for past and present officers through their trials. The bylaws had called for paying lawyers only until a member was arraigned.
However, it’s unclear whether that vote will stand or another vote will have to be taken.
Given the charges Pullman is facing, it is likely the union will move to stop the payments to Weinberg, according to two people briefed on the union’s plans.
Bonavolonta said Wednesday that more charges could be forthcoming.
“The investigation does not end with today’s arrests,” he said.
Early this morning, FBI & IRS-CID special agents arrested Dana Pullman, the former head of the State Police Association of Massachusetts, and Anne Lynch, a Beacon Hill lobbyist, at their respective homes in Worcester & Hull. Details to follow at 10 a.m. press conference @DMAnews1— FBI Boston (@FBIBoston) August 21, 2019