A Boston police officer is accused of mailing a fake $790 State Police citation and a crude handwritten note to the home of a driver he said cut him off on Interstate 93.
“Try fighting this… I dare you!” the note read. “What happens when you try and run an officers truck off the road on 93S. Hope it was worth it. See you in court.”
Christopher Curtis was arraigned Tuesday in Suffolk Superior Court on charges of forgery, witness intimidation, and misleading an investigation. He pleaded not guilty and was released without bail. A grand jury had indicted him in mid-December, a prosecutor from Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins’ office said in court Tuesday.
Curtis is on unpaid administrative leave from the Boston Police, a department spokesman said. He and his lawyer declined to comment after the brief hearing Tuesday morning.
A driver later told investigators he was going south on Interstate 93 near Stoneham on March 1, 2019, when he saw a white Toyota Tundra coming close to the back of his car, court records show. The driver, who was not identified in court records, said the person in the Tundra honked at him, sped up toward his car, merged into the lane on his right and then veered back into the left lane, nearly forcing him into the median barrier, court records show.
The driver did not see who was inside the Tundra, records show. He did remember the pickup truck had a missing front grill.
A week later, a traffic citation came in the mail, court records show. The envelope had a Boston Police Department logo, but the ticket itself had the word “State” in the field for the agency issuing the citation.
The citation came with message:
“Watched you go in and out of traffic, tried pushing my truck off the road just to get into the left lane,” the note read, according to a photo in court records. “Clocked you going over 90 in a 65. I have a 6 min video of you driving like an [expletive], and pulled up next to you and took your picture. Try fighting this... I dare you!”
Despite the warning, the driver decided to go to court and appeal, prosecutors said.
The word “State” on the ticket would usually mean a State Police trooper had written it. But clerks in Woburn District Court and State Police troopers could not figure out which trooper had issued the citation. The officer identification number did not match any troopers, records show. The signature was illegible.
Eventually, State Police discovered that the ticket book came from the Boston Police Department and had been signed out to Curtis, records show.
When the Suffolk District Attorney’s Office Anti-Corruption Division first contacted Curtis, he said he did not know what they were talking about. He never drives on 93 north of Boston, he said, since he lives in Roslindale and works in Area C-6, which covers South Boston. Investigators started pursuing other suspects and came up empty, records show.
But over the summer, investigators became more suspicious of Curtis, records show. RMV records showed he had a white Toyota Tundra, and insurance records showed its front grill was damaged.
Investigators got a warrant for Curtis’ cell phone location records, which showed his phone traveling south on I-93 toward Boston on March 1, just after he agreed to fill an overtime assignment, court records show.
Investigators called Curtis in for another interview in August.
“When confronted with evidence from the Anti-Corruption Division investigation, however, he ‘remember[ed] completely’ and became absurd in his explanations,” Assistant District Attorney Kevin Bergin wrote.
Curtis said the driver had almost run his truck off the road, so he wrote down the plate number, records show. Later, while on duty, Curtis said he looked up the driver, wrote and mailed him the ticket, “as a sort of warning,” Bergin wrote.
Curtis also said the hand-written note was supposed to be a joke, meant for another officer and not the driver, prosecutors wrote in a statement of the case.
“The community’s relationship with members of law enforcement relies on trust, and actions like these harm the ability of every member of law enforcement to effectively perform their vital duties,” Rollins said in a statement. “The overwhelming majority of police officers serve our communities with honor and dignity, and I’m grateful to work alongside many outstanding law enforcement partners in Suffolk County.”
Gal Tziperman Lotan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 617-929-2043.