Coughlin shares letter to Conte with Cohasset Selectmen

Sgt. John Conte

Cohasset Police Department (Retired)

Cohasset,  Ma  02025

Dear Sgt Conte,

As you are aware,  while I was Town Manager for the Town of Cohasset,  I approved a settlement agreement which called for your early retirement from the Cohasset Police Department.   During the last several months,  particularly as a result of the investigation into matters concerning Chief Mark Deluca,  I have concluded that my actions in your case resulted in a miscarriage of justice.

Upon my appointment as Town Manager,  I was led to believe by senior members of the Cohasset Police Department that you were actively undermining the authority of  Mark Deluca within the department and at the station.   Members of the department reasoned that you resented the appointment of Chief Deluca because you were the other finalist for the position.  Given the serious concerns I now have about the veracity of these individuals, I believe this created an unfair bias in the mind of Chief Deluca against you- particularly in disciplinary situations.     Since the Police Chief recommends a course of action to both the Town Manager and the Town Attorney,  it is my opinion that this bias clouded the judgment of Chief Deluca.   As a consequence,  concerns about your alleged insubordinate behavior also flavored my actions and the conduct of  the case by the town attorney.  Thus,  it must be overturned and you should be reinstated.

Moreover,  as a result of the subsequent investigations of Chief Deluca and Sgt Jeffrey Trainor,  I also have serious questions about the objectivity,  impartiality and underlying motivations of those involved in the internal affairs investigation of your case.   The cornerstone of justice is equal treatment under the law.  The internal affairs  investigation of your case as well as Sgt Trainor were both conducted by Detective Lt Gregory Lennon.   The difference in the manner in which your case was handled compared to that of Sgt Trainor,  raises a clear perception of a double standard.  I base this opinion upon my direct conversations with Chief Deluca and my own personal knowledge of the friendships between Sgt Trainor,  Detective Lennon and Deputy Chief Sgt John Conte ( CPD retired.)

William Quigley.  It is also important to note that the principal witness in the most serious charge raised against you was then Lt Quigley.   Given the clear embellishment of his testimony in the subsequent investigation of Chief Deluca,  I have grave concerns that the same may be true in his testimony about you.  I am also concerned about the potential bias of the officers involved.

Shortly after my acceptance of the settlement agreement,  then Lt Quigley related his resentment of you stemming from the time you were his supervisor and he was a patrolman.  Specifically, this related to an alleged incident involving an intoxicated individual and Tom Wigmore which occurred at the station several years ago.  Using a reasonable person standard,  this raises a possible bias on his part which should have been disclosed to me prior to his testimony so I could access the credibility of his accusations against you.

Moreover,  I should have also considered the testimony of both Detective Lt Lennon and Lt Quigley in light of possible motivations each may have had given the reorganization of the Command Staff which was taking place at the same time of the investigation against you.   As you may recall,  shortly after my appointment,  I proposed and the Board of Selectmen approved the creation of the position of Deputy Chief.    It was envisioned that the candidates for the position would come be from the senior leadership of the Department   Since you had been a finalist for the post of Chief of the department,  it would be only reasonable for other officers to assume that you would also be potential candidate for Deputy Chief.

At the same time your case was being completed, I was informed by Chief Deluca that Lt Lennon had opted not to apply for Deputy Chief meaning that Lt Quigley would be the sole candidate.  Given the fact that you would likely have been in competition with Lt Quigley for the position,  it is possible that such motivations were  present and could have tainted the testimony of Lt Quigley and the actions of Lt Lennon in your investigation.  My fears were reinforced in the subsequent investigation of Chief Deluca where Deputy Chief Quigley and Detective Lennon were the principal witnesses for the Acting Town Manager.  Given the clear embellishment of issues concerning Chief Deluca by Deputy Chief Quigley,  Detective Lt Lennon,  Sgt Trainor and Officer Reardon,  it is highly likely that the objectivity of those officers was also tainted in their approach to your case.

I am also concerned about the manner in which the leadership of your union handled your  case and advocated on your behalf.    Upon my decision to approve the creation of a K-9 unit for the department,   I was informed by Chief Deluca that he was appointing Union President Reardon to the post.  Chief Deluca implying his full support and that of the other union leaders in the chief’s efforts to reign in what he then perceived to be your insubordinate behavior.  I also recall reports about calls that had been made to union attorneys which may have undermined your right to have the union advocate fully on your behalf at the proceedings.

For these reasons,  I feel that my decision in your case was not the product of fair and impartial justice and that a different disciplinary resolution of your case was warranted.

In principle,  the charge before me was an allegation that you had lied to a superior officer in a matter involving restraining order and the confiscation of a firearm.   Lying under oath to a superior officer is a charge in which a retirement as opposed to a termination would be considered an appropriate outcome.  I am convinced this was not the case and you were a victim of embellished testimony of officers who held a bias against you and a union which at the time of your case breached its responsibility of fair representation to you by supporting Chief Deluca’s objective of bringing your tenure with a Cohasset Police Department to the end.   I also believe because of these actions the agreement which I signed on behalf of the town and you was the product of fraud.

If I were still the Town Manager,  I would immediately seek to convene a hearing on this matter and impose a fair penalty for the allegations which could be sustained if objective, unbiased and credible evidence was presented.   At minimum,  it is my belief you should be reinstated with back pay and benefits offset only by the imposition of any reasonable penalty.

While I am not currently Town Manager,  as an attorney and officer of the court with a responsibility to correct injustices which have occurred as a result of a decision I have made,   I stand ready to assist you and your attorney in any way and in any forum so that justice can be rendered in your case.  I also want to apologize both privately and publicly to both you and your family.   As you know,  I truly believe in the “team” concept and base my approach to public service on basis of the military axiom that an officer protects and takes care of the men he is privileged to command and lead at all costs.  In your case,  I failed in that responsibility.

As we gather this weekend to celebrate Easter.  it is important to note that over two thousand year and thirteen years ago a government official like me sat in judgment  and crucified an innocent man.  Unlike him,  I can not wash my hands of this matter.  The only way I can make you and your family whole is to do everything possible to right the wrong that took place in your case.

 

Sincerely,

Michael J. Coughlin,  Jr.
(former Cohasset Town Manager)

© Copyright 2013 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed
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  19 comments for “Coughlin shares letter to Conte with Cohasset Selectmen

  1. Callahan
    April 1, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    To Jim and Rose – Don’t get me wrong. I wholeheartedly agree that if an injustice was done to Jack, it must be corrected. But first things first – putting into place a new BOS and new leadership in Town Hall and on Elm Street. And with the shameful posting of the chief position put out last week, it would appear there is a rush to do things before and in spite of an election. Preventing that also has to be a priority. Otherwise, I do not see justice being done by the current crew. I hope this will in fact be a campaign issue, although I doubt other media will ask such pointed questions.

  2. Bill Lyons
    March 30, 2013 at 3:07 am

    In the 45 or so years I’ve known Jack Conte, he has been nothing but a professional, a gentleman, and someone I consider a friend. I never knew the details of this issue, but knew Jack well enough to know he would always try and do the right thing. The Town of Cohasset needs to rectify this issue, and address those that either embellished or perjured themselves. JUSTICE FOR JACK!

  3. Mary Snow
    March 29, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    So we all know at least part of went on and there is of course more to come out. There will be attempts to sweep this under the rug again and we “cannot” let that happen. Otherwise the intimidation and bullying will continue. I have personally been on the receiving end of intimidation by members of the CPD for speaking out against Chief DeLuca and his antics. This has to stop now. An internal investigation ny an unbiased member of a public safety agency has to take place and in the meantime, the acting police chief must be replaced. To this end, I am putting on the e-mail addresses of our elected selectman and I urge all of you to contact them and insist that something be done. Jack Conte and his family deserve justice and the citizens of Cohasset deserve a police department that they can be proud of.
    Fred Koed – fkoed@cohassetma.org
    Diane Kennedy – dkennedy@cohassetma.org
    Martha Gjesteby – mgjesteby@cohassetma.org
    Paul Carlson – pcarlson@cohassetma.org
    Lee Jenkins – ljenkins@cohassetma.org

    You can also call the selectmans office at 781-383-4105 and leave a message.

  4. mdgoaliemom
    March 29, 2013 at 12:43 am

    It was something to read the real story of what went on regarding Jack Conte’s leaving the force. Michael J. Coughlin, Jr. set the record straight and I hope that those in power with the ability to right the wrong do so.

  5. Bob
    March 28, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    This whole town is a mess. Just like the roads in this town. Lets not throw a quick patch on the hole to make it look like the town is doing something. The roads need repaving to get rid of the trench patches. Lets fix the roads right for a change.

    PS, I’m not really talking about the roads. I’m just hoping everyone realizes how bad the situation in this town is. I am only using the roads as a analogy since the roads are probably the worst in the surrounding 20 towns. Disgracefull!

  6. kathy
    March 28, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    I have not been privy to all the scuttlebutt about Jacks case, but I have known Jack for a long time….my kids went to Cohasset schools with him. I feel that I know Jack, and his family very well. Well enough to know that there certainly was something that didn’t meet the eye. I am pleased that this letter has been published and Jack who many know as an upstanding career police officer and a gentleman would be vindicated.
    Jack has conducted himself as the gentleman he is and this family has suffered long enough. No matter what road Jack decides to follow, I am more than happy to support him. Hopefully the powers that be will not wait until whatever to clean the slate and others man up and step forward.

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