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Internal Affairs Probe into Alleged Wrongdoing by City's Top Cop Chugs Along

Middletown's mayor said two former federal prosecutors are still conducting interviews related to charges the police chief obtained prescription painkillers illegally from three officers while deputy chief in 2011.

Middletown Police Chief William McKenna
Middletown Police Chief William McKenna

An internal affairs inquiry begun in October into allegations the city's chief of police tried to illegally obtain prescription painkillers from other officers while he was the department's second in command is moving along, according to Mayor Dan Drew, who couldn't say when results were expected.

"Investigations like this, you can't micromanage the investigators, you can't speed them along," Drew said, adding that routinely these types of probes produce additional witnesses who then must be interviewed.

Two former federal prosecuting attorneys are delving into allegations made by three officers that Middletown Police Chief William McKenna tried to obtain prescription pain medication while deputy chief of police in 2011. 

On Oct. 16, Drew said he had asked investigators James T. Cowderly, former chief of the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney's Office for Connecticut, and Thomas J. Murphy, onetime assistant U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, to take as long as they need to make a determination. 

"If you provide them with an artificial deadline, you don't get a true and accurate representation of results," he said.

Officer Gino Pulvirenti, who is out on paid leave while being investigated for suspected worker's compensation violations, officer David Galm, who retired in 2011 with a disability, and Francesca Quaranta, who's on a leave of absence from the department, made the accusations, according to the chief. 

Quaranta recently filed a complaint with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities that claims she endured a hostile work environment after she came out publicly as transgender.

Complaints of misconduct by these three officers did not prompt the mayor to place Chief McKenna on paid administrative leave while investigators conducted their interviews and a report was released. "I did not consider it necessary and I chose not to do it," Drew said.

A telephone call and email to the chief were not returned by press time.

When charges came to light this past fall, McKenna said he welcomed an investigation. "I have done nothing wrong and am confident that the facts brought forth in the investigation will show that to be the case."

He maintains his innocence and says his police record is unsullied. "I would never have made it this far in my career," McKenna says, adding if he ever needed painkillers, he'd obtain them from a physician.

"I will not be bullied into avoiding hard decisions out of fear that it will have a negative impact on me personally."

This isn't the first time in recent years that the police department head has faced such scrutiny.

On Oct. 11, 2011, while acting Middletown Police Chief, Patrick McMahon was placed on administrative leave and demoted to deputy chief by then Mayor Sebastian N. Giuliano. That's when Attorney Eric P. Daigle began an internal affairs report into allegations he drank alcohol while in uniform.

Daigle's 184-page report, released four months later, prompted Drew to fire McMahon on Feb. 23, 2012. He has since filed a number of lawsuits against the city.

Related Middletown Patch Stories

CT Yankee January 08, 2014 at 04:56 PM
Get accused of worker's comp violations, you get put out on leave. Get accused of drinking in uniform while chief, you get put out on leave. Get accused of squeezing those you supervise for their controlled substances (probably while on the job) you don't get put on leave. Makes no sense, especially if DD is looking for a "clean" report.
Ian Battles January 08, 2014 at 06:33 PM
What other job gives you paid leave when you're accused of rule breaking?
Pro Death January 08, 2014 at 11:08 PM
Only public sector jobs Ian
Ian Battles January 09, 2014 at 01:56 AM
Well ain't that a racket!
Michael Roden January 09, 2014 at 06:00 AM
Disgruntled I'd say.

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