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City officer who filed complaint investigated over claim of tardiness, lying

By: Mary Ellen Godin,
Record-Journal staff |
Posted: Saturday, April 16, 2011 9:52 pm

MERIDEN — One of two city police officers who filed a complaint of disparate treatment against the city’s top brass is the subject of an internal affairs investigation into tardiness and untruthfulness.

Police Chief Jeffry Cossette filed the internal affairs complaint on April 1, one day after Officers Donald Huston and Brian Sullivan complained to city officials that the chief’s son officer Evan Cossette gets preferential treatment in police brutality investigations.

The officers’ complaint has led to investigations by the FBI, state police, and a city-paid attorney.

Chief Cossette’s complaint against Huston centers on a March 29 private-duty traffic detail on Britannia Street. Huston said he punched into the job 22 seconds after another Officer Kevin J. Ieraci signed on to the same job.

Ieraci did not have to write a tardy statement, Huston said.

Sgt. Leonard Caponigro brought the tardiness complaint against Huston when he showed up at the job site and didn’t see Huston at his post. Both men were several minutes late to the job, and Huston said Caponigro’s view was blocked by a field house and he could not see Huston.

Chief Cossette ordered an investigation and a disciplinary hearing on Thursday. “He was late for an assignment and was asked to do a tardy slip,” Cossette said. “When those tardy slips contain information that is untruthful we investigate it a little further. That’s being handled at the captain’s level.”

Huston, who has been with the department since 2004, said he has never heard of a disciplinary hearing over tardiness on a private duty job, nor had his statement been challenged.

“It all depends on whether the supervisor likes you,” Huston said.

Huston’s attorney Sally Roberts of New Britain said the action is retaliation for Huston and Sullivan bringing the complaint against the chief and deputy chief. She also noted it was ordered one day after she filed an intent to sue the city on behalf of three men who say Evan Cossette used excessive force against them.

Roberts said she is preparing a lawsuit that shows Chief Cossette has a pattern of retaliation against officers who disagree with him or have had conflicts with his son.

“This IA against Officer Huston shows a pattern of vindictive behavior with deep roots, a pattern which extends to the past of another of my clients, John Neron,” Roberts said. “It seems to be a well-established pattern of the chief.”

Huston was investigated following an excessive force complaint in November stemming from a melee at the Westfield Meriden mall. Huston was cleared in a internal affairs review and in a criminal investigation by the department.

However, Chief Cossette sustained the allegations and Huston was placed on 45 days of administrative leave and suspended for five days.

Despite the federal probe into three allegations of police brutality against Evan Cossette, he has not been placed on administrative leave.

Chief Cossette told the Record-Journal Friday the decision rests with Deputy Chief Timothy Topulos, who could not be reached for comment.

Union President Lt. Patrick Gaynor said the department has been cracking down recently on tardiness at private-duty job sites and doesn’t think the internal affairs investigation is retaliation against Huston.

He knows of several officers who have had to file tardy slips recently, but doesn’t know the specific details of the allegations against Huston.




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