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Brimfield officers file complaints
07/24/2003
By KIM RING
Staff writer

PALMER - Five former Brimfield police officers filed applications for criminal complaints in Palmer District Court yesterday against selectmen and the town accountant seeking pay they believe they're owed.
The officers said they should have been paid for shifts and details they worked in the months prior to losing their jobs June 30. They said yesterday the town owes them over $10,000.
"This is a lot of money," Teamsters principal officer Richard R. Foley said yesterday. "The criminal complaint has to be done."
The Teamsters became involved in the dispute between the former officers and selectmen because the police were trying to join the union when selectmen decided not to reappoint the 18 members of the department just days before the Brimfield Outdoor Antique Shows were slated to open.
While that move halted the union effort, the Teamsters said it smacked of union busting on the part of the selectmen.
"They said they were waiting for a permanent police chief to be named (before appointing any officers), but at the same time they went out of the unit to appoint an officer," Teamster local 170 lawyer Raymond J. Reed said. "They're trying to bust the union. ... This is 100 percent attributable to (the officers') union activities."
In court yesterday, Brimfield Police Association president Charles H. Laperle, former police Sgt. Joel R. Norton, and one-time officers Ethan T. Hillman, Chad L. Miller and Daniel E. McCarthy filed four complaints each asking for a show-cause hearing to determine if criminal complaints would be issued against Selectmen Robert C. Cheney, Carol M. DelNegro, Diane Panaccione and Town Treasurer Kirsten Weldon.
Hillman said he's owed $5,300 in back pay and hopes he'll see a check soon so he can pay his law school tuition.
He said he'd seen at least one check for a detail he'd worked from another town sitting on the chief's desk for weeks before it was deposited and reissued to him.
"If I don't get the money, it's going to hinder me buying books for school," Hillman said. "In years past it's months to get the money and for three years I've been arguing with the chief and the selectmen about getting us paid more promptly."
Reed said yesterday's move is the third time the former officers have sought relief using the courts or state agencies.
The association members have filed a complaint alleging that selectmen violated the state's open meeting law twice this month when they posted "emergency" meetings minutes before they met though no emergency existed. The former officers also filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the state Labor Relations Commission.
DelNegro said last night that since the officers had filed paperwork with the court, she wouldn't comment on the payroll issue.
"I don't think town counsel would want me to say anything," DelNegro said.
 
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