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Boston cop chastised for writing a fake arrest report so a friend's brother could have an excuse for missing a shift at work

The state Ethics Commission yesterday officially tut-tutted a veteran Boston cop who did a favor for a pal's brother who was basically on probation at his job at the MBTA by writing up a criminal complaint that the guy submitted to prove he had a better reason for missing his shift than simply oversleeping: Getting arrested for beating up his girlfriend.

In its "public education letter" to and about Officer James Clark, who is no longer listed in the BPD salary database, the board said it considered "adjudicatory proceedings" against him, but decided a public shaming, via an public explanation of what Clark did would better serve the public interest.

At issue is a criminal complaint for domestic violence that Clark, then serving in District D-14 in Brighton, wrote in July, 2016, involving a man the commission identified by the pseudonym of "Smith," who was the older brother of a friend of Clark's:

On May 13, 2016, Smith entered into a “Last Chance Agreement” with the MBTA. Under the Last Chance Agreement, Smith was subject to “immediate discharge” for any future violation of the MBTA attendance policy.

On July 4, 2016, Smith overslept and missed his MBTA shift. Smith told the MBTA that he had missed work on July 4th because he had been arrested.

On July 11, 2016, Smith provided his MBTA employee union liaison with a document appearing to be an Application for Criminal Complaint to the Brighton District Court purportedly for charges against Smith from an incident on July 4, 2016. On July 12th, Smith received notice from the MBTA of an abeyance of discipline pending the outcome of the criminal matter. MBTA officials quickly learned, however, that no criminal charges had in fact been filed with the court. On July 19, 2016, Smith resigned from his MBTA position in lieu of discharge. Smith admitted that he had overslept and that he had obtained the Application for Criminal Complaint from you.

The letter of shame continues:

The Application in question includes Smith’s full name and address under “information about accused,” and indicates that Smith was arrested on July 4, 2016, in Brighton. The Application lists a fictitious police officer’s name as the complainant and a fictitious police incident report number. The Application lists an offense code and description “Assault & Battery 209A.” The Application lists a female victim’s name and a place of offense. The form includes an illegible signature and is dated July 5, 2016.

According to Smith, he overslept on July 4, 2016, and was going to lose his job under the Last Chance Agreement. He “brainstormed” a way to save his job and called you to ask whether you could provide something to show he had been arrested. You told him there was nothing you could do, but Smith persisted.

You admitted under oath that you completed and provided the Application to Smith. You testified, however, that you did not know Smith intended to show the form to his employer, the MBTA. You also denied knowledge of Smith’s employment with the MBTA or the Last Chance Agreement. Rather, you stated that Smith called you, upset, because he had not returned home on the night of July 4, 2016, and had told his girlfriend that he had been arrested. He asked you for help.

You testified that you received Smith’s call while you were at roll call beginning your shift. According to your testimony, you determined that you could give Smith a paper Application because, while the paper forms were “obsolete” having been replaced by online complaint submissions, a civilian would likely not know the difference. ...

The Application was never filed with any court, nor was any information associated with the alleged incident entered into any BPD record system.

The commission then explains, for the people in the back of the room, that you are not supposed to do something like this. Just in case that isn't clear, the commissioner continues by pointing to the state conflict-of-interest law, which prohibits public employees from giving somebody "an unwarranted privilege of substantial value" that is not normally available to just any random person on the street. Still not convinced? The commission continues:

The false Application to support Smith’s false claim of arrest on July 4, 2016 was a privilege which you knowingly secured for Smith using your position as a BPD officer. This privilege was unwarranted as a crime had not occurred, an arrest had not been made, and the information contained within the Application was false. The sole legitimate use of a criminal complaint application is to document and present to the court information regarding potential criminal activity. You, by contrast, used the Application to fabricate an alibi for a friend.

The unwarranted privilege you secured for Smith was of substantial value. The Application falsely reporting his arrest was in fact substantially valuable to Smith as he intended to use it to maintain his paid employment with the MBTA. Even if you were unaware of Smith’s true intent, and even if you believed, as you testified, that Smith was going to use the Application to deceive his girlfriend regarding his whereabouts and thereby avoid or solve a domestic problem, you had reason to know, given the urgency and persistence with which he requested it, that the Application was of substantial value to Smith.

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Comments

MBTA has rules against being late?

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Voting closed 56

Being arrested is apparently an acceptable excuse.

That's the real story here.

Edit: The MBTA did try follow up to find out more about the charge, thus unraveling the stupid scheme. But it's notable that the guy assumed getting arrested would be an acceptable excuse for missing work.

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Voting closed 84

Something something bad apples something something

/s

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Voting closed 28

Being arrested, or being detained for a legally unproven allegation of a crime is certainly a "better" excuse for not being somewhere than being late for a reason that was entirely within your own control.

Not sure I'd pick domestic violence as my fake excuse crime though...

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Voting closed 27

Would missing a shift get you fired, but domestic abuse is A-Okay!

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Voting closed 51

Beating women and children and getting away with it is considered one of the perks of the job for cops.

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Voting closed 52

Swing and a miss as usual klino!

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Voting closed 18

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Voting closed 10

I think it works in the NFL too. Miss a practice-fined, beat your gf- ain't no thang.

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Voting closed 12

This is a whole new take on ….

… making your friend’s parking ticket go away.

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Voting closed 19

The Boston cop should be fired for stupidity. The MBTA should release their policy on employees arrested for domestic abuse. They should release the names of all employees who have been arrested fro beating their spouses and children.

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Voting closed 15

Police officers are not juries. Having been arrested is not proof of guilt. At first glance it seems monstrous that the MBTA would accept having been arrested for spousal abuse as an acceptable excuse for lateness, but the alternative is to ignore due process, and presume the guilt of anyone who has been arrested. That would enable the abuse of police power; a police officer who didn't like you could screw you at work by arresting you with minimal provocation.

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Voting closed 20

Did Officer Clark imagine this scheme all on his own, or did he know to make a fake arrest report for a friend because it was/is an entrenched abuse practiced for years at BPD?

Also, imagine the conversation…“So, should I just put you down for petty larceny, breaking and entering…?”

“Nah, say that I punched my girlfriend. I don’t want the bosses to think I am an untrustworthy thief!”

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Voting closed 36

It was "Smith's" idea. Clark didn't want to do it at first but was persuaded to do it.

Anything else you want me to read while I'm here.

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Voting closed 32

OK. Do we believe that ‘Smith’ came up with a novel idea and this is the first time in history a BPD officer executed such a scheme?

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Voting closed 17

What kind of idiot thinks that getting arrested is a better excuse than sleeping in? I would imagine that Clark thought the idea was stupid, too, but also thought that whatever he gave "Smith" would go nowhere. I mean, of all things to be arrested for, why something that is almost universally frowned upon. Assault and battery for a bar fight would have been a better fake charge, but they went with domestic hoping that the guy would be ashamed of turning it in. Like you, I would have gone with some kind of injury that would necessitate a trip to the ER but nothing that would keep you from working.

The whole thing reads like the plot of a "Trailer Park Boys" type of sitcom.

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Voting closed 23

You make a compelling point that it is hard to imagine there is a large market for falsified arrest records created for the purpose of an alibi.

Perhaps this was a unique occurrence; although it would be interesting to hear other stories of this ploy playing out and what the result was. A general rule of thumb is if someone gets caught for something, it isn’t the first time it happened.

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Voting closed 12

I'm guessing this is probably someone with immature moral reasoning (as evidenced by "quick, come up with excuse even if it requires doing something super illegal" rather than "accept responsibility and consequences"), who probably hangs out with folks of similar mindsets. The person's friend circle probably is full of people who do what they want and don't think anything is their fault, so the person probably doesn't have the mindset that getting arrested looks bad to most people. In their circle, someone who gets arrested is 100% a helpless victim and definitely wasn't doing anything wrong.

(And sure, I realize that wrongful arrests happen, and many folks are demographically much more prone to wrongful arrests, but said folks sure as hell know that getting arrested looks really bad to most people.)

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Voting closed 17

Would have been better to sit the jerk down and explain respect and responsibility.

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Voting closed 11

At least, "Smith" didn't make up the reason for his "arrest"

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Voting closed 8

So: this guy bugged the officer to give him evidence to prove to his girlfriend that he was arrested and not just late to get home, so the officer gave him a piece of paper saying he was arrested for beating said girlfriend? Genuinely funny way to tell a guy to buzz off forever, except “smith” is too dumb to even screw up correctly.

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Voting closed 13

Only took 5 years, anyone ask Marty Walsh to comment?

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Voting closed 17

Now there are folks who think it's a victimless lie, or "a little white lie", not so. This is a premeditated lie, planned and executed by at least two people, a heist of the dumbest intention, it's either a really dumb cop or a cop who feels entitled to lie when it serves their needs. Discharge and reenlistment ban on county, state or municipal employment, reallocate the salary the somewhere it will have a net positive for society is called for. Any accrued time off, sick time etc, should at the very least be offset by court costs and judgement fines him upon plea or conviction. DEFUND that police officer, give them a chance to make an honest living like a proud American not of the ruling class. This is a rational and fair example of what police reform means. If we all can't come to an agreement on this, I am afraid the distortion of reality is beyond repair.

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Voting closed 12

I am floored that this blatant corruption is not criminally prosecuted.

I'm sure James and all his like-minded buddies have learned their lesson from this meaningless letter and this stuff will never happen again.

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Voting closed 24

Will the acting mayor fire him?

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Voting closed 9

I don't think that's really an issue anymore.

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Voting closed 9

On Woke Windows and other news reports quote Clark’s lawyer speaking in the present tense as if Clark is still employed.

Perhaps his employment status has changed very recently?

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Voting closed 12

Smith admitted that he had overslept and that he had obtained the Application for Criminal Complaint from you.

What a jerk. Cop does him a favor by writing up a fake excuse note. He gets called out, resigns from his job, and then for no reason snitches on the cop.

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Voting closed 11

…and keeps his job.

Officer Clark is not a victim here. How many other false statements has Clark, who drew $195,000 in pay last year, made with regards to arrests?

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Voting closed 33

So he claims that he didn’t know “smith” would use the criminal complaint at his job with the mbta.

That’s a big fat lie.

If “smith” in fact needed a note to show his girlfriend for not coming home why would the reason on the criminal complaint be domestic violence?

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Voting closed 15

…last night because I was arrested for beating up the woman I cheat on you with.”

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Voting closed 24

From the letter:

and the name of his ex-girlfriend as the alleged victim

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Voting closed 9

I thought the same thing. These two guys and their associates are not exactly the brightest bulbs. This is a stupid lie about a stupid lie. Is there no floor to this?

I would also point out that many jobs that involve the public and that may involve children etc require CORI checks and other verifications. I am not sure what the deal is at the MBTA but a domestic assault charge may have set off alarms at HR more so than a bar fight or destruction of property may have. I could see HR seeing this and deciding to get more information. Especially in light of the situation we have seen with the BPD and their former Union head. Even if you do not take action against an employee it is useful to be able to say you looked into it when asked by someone above you.

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Voting closed 9

Sigh. The MBTA.

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Voting closed 12

Why does "Smith" deserve protection of his identity? He was part of this scheme, and as a state employee, he is also subject to penalties by the Ethics Commission.

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Voting closed 13