Metheun, Massachusetts is a town of about 50,000 people that sits on the border of New Hampshire. It's perhaps best known as the birthplace of Robert Frost. About 90 percent of the people there are white, and the average household income is about $50,000. In other words, it's a fairly typical middle-class white suburban town. Which makes you wonder why Methuen police Chief Joseph Solomon pulls in a salary of more than $300,000 per year.
The answer is—perhaps unsurprisingly—rampant corruption.
According to a new report from The Boston Globe, the Methuen city council—and even past town mayors—have all claimed ignorance when it comes to the city budgets they've signed off on.
Councilors would later say they didn't know what was in the contract, but not a single member asked any questions before the February 2017 vote.
Over the next six months, the police chief handed out extraordinary favors to members of the council or their relatives. Councilor Sean Fountain, a veteran North Andover firefighter, was hired as a full-time police officer without ever taking a standard civil service exam. Council chairman James Atkinson was hired as a junior accountant for the police.
Relatives of three other councilors who already worked for Solomon received promotions — one became a captain, another a sergeant, the third a detective.
Solomon has served as the Methuen Police Chief for 26 years, although he was briefly fired in 2008 for mismanaging money and engaging in conflicts of interest. He was forced to endure a one-year suspension without pay, with no formal finding of willful misconduct, and later sued the town for wrongful termination, winning back nearly $200,000.
The full reporting from the Boston Globe is a nauseating look at police corruption—even more insulting, perhaps, because it takes place in such a stupidly sleepy town.
Methuen police chief doled out favors to councilors after they made him one of the nation's highest-paid law enforcement officers [Andrea Estes / The Boston Globe]
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