Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Too Typical?

Fourth Police Officer Fired In Madison [Connecticut]
Another May Lose Job At Hearing Thursday; Department's Investigation Continuing

By JOSH KOVNER | Courant Staff Writer
January 30, 2008

MADISON — - A fourth Madison police officer was fired Tuesday, and a fifth may be fired at a hearing Thursday in an extraordinary series of scandals that has ensnared one-fifth of the department so far.

The chief, the police commission and the rest of the police force badly wants to win back the trust of a shocked community, which annually ponies up nearly $3 million a year in tax money to fund the agency and put the department in a modern new headquarters building on Campus Drive in 2000.

But officials couldn't say whether the firing Tuesday of Officer Matthew Sterling on sexual misconduct and other charges related to corruption on the midnight shift, or a termination hearing set for Thursday on unrelated charges for Officer Daniel Hedges, would end the darkest chapter in the history of this small shoreline police agency.

"I wish I can say that — but I can't," Chief Paul D. Jakubson said when asked whether the Hedges case would cap a grueling series of hearings that began last Thursday and has taxed the volunteer police commission.

"I've got an open inquiry — who knows where it's going to land," Jakubson said.

Lt. Allen Gerard, a personable supervisor who is serving as a shift commander, lead internal investigator and president of the police union, added: "We've got other people we'll be interviewing. I don't know if it's going to result in anything."

Sterling, his dark hair cut closely to his head, sat at the commission table in a dark suit and tie, his hands clasped, his eyes cast downward and his face an anguished mask.

He was accused of frequenting strip clubs, massage parlors and a house of prostitution in Bridgeport called Fantasy Modeling with fellow officer Bernard Durgin Jr., who was fired last week on similar charges and a host of others.

Sterling was also accused of associating with a crack addict and ex-convict named Albert LeClaire and of lying to investigators, falsifying information and manipulating the internal investigation.

As darkness fell, the grim-faced police commission, which had been at it since 9:30 a.m., sustained a half-dozen charges against Sterling, including lack of truthfulness, conduct unbecoming an officer and patronizing "prohibited places."

Commission member Edward Kritzman, his hands shaking with tension, moved to fire Sterling, and the other four panel members unanimously agreed.

"All these matters are very difficult," Chairman Emile Geisenheimer said. "But our first consideration is to the citizens of Madison."

He noted that the townspeople rely heavily on the police department. He said the panel's second most important consideration was to the police force itself.

"The officers need to know they can rely on each other," Geisenheimer said, adding that the police department must start "to gain back the public's trust."

Durgin was fired last Friday. Since his suspension late last summer, he has been arrested on charges of interfering with a police investigation in New Haven on behalf of a friend while off-duty; looking up the names of women he knew on police computer databases; committing a workers' compensation scam; and threatening witnesses.

The police commission sustained 50 departmental charges against Durgin. Among the allegations was that Durgin and other officers had contact with prostitutes and known felons on several occasions in Madison.

Sgt. Timothy Heiden was fired last Thursday on charges that included failing to supervise the officers on his shift.

Last year, Officer Joseph Gambardella was fired after he was arrested on charges of stealing $900 worth of lobsters and meat from a local restaurant and $500 worth of gasoline from the town's public works garage.

Contact Josh Kovner at

Copyright © 2008, The Hartford Courant


Blogger Dream Speaker said...

I live in Pasco County, Florida and we have similar problems with the officers in our Sheriff's Department. These officers will lie in order to make arrests of innocent people. It is a sign of the times when those wearing a badge consider themselves above the law. It is a sad state of affairs when a female officer responds to a request for help and shows up drunk and smelling strongly of alcohol. This is what our tax money pays for.

Keep up the good work or exposing these criminals.

Mon Aug 02, 05:30:00 PM 2010  

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