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Report: Ashland Cop took motorcycle

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Report: Cop took motorcycle
By Theresa Edo / Daily News Staff
Tuesday, April 12, 2005

ASHLAND -- A police officer resigned last year when faced with criminal charges he extorted a Harley-Davidson motorcycle from an Ashland man instead of arresting him, according to internal affairs documents obtained yesterday by the Daily News.

Donald Weld Jr., an Ashland cop, resigned July 16 with a handwritten letter witnessed and signed by four other officers, and signed by Chief Roy Melnick. An internal investigation found evidence he failed to report a domestic assault that he witnessed, and determined he used his authority to obtain the motorcycle.

"I told him that he faces criminal charges of 1) extortion, 2) larceny by false pretences, 3) failure to report a domestic assault and 4) operating a motorcycle without a license. I advised Officer Weld that we are seeking his resignation from the police department or face disciplinary action," Sgt. David Whitney wrote in the internal affairs report.

Weld maintained the motorcycle was a gift, according to the report. He could not be reached for comment.

The Weld report was part of a set of eight released to the Daily News yesterday after a request under the state's public records law. The secretary of state's office on April 1 ordered the town to release all internal affairs reports from last year in response to an appeal filed by the newspaper. (See sidebar.) Melnick could not be reached for comment yesterday on the internal affairs reports.

The man whose 1988 Harley-Davidson motorcycle Weld allegedly took initially refused to speak with police, but eventually was interviewed, the report said. His girlfriend told police she would not make a written statement, but she discussed the incident.

One afternoon in mid-June, she said, Weld was at the house she shared with her boyfriend. At some point, Weld saw her spit in her boyfriend's face, and her boyfriend elbow her in the face.

Weld broke up the fight and chastised the man. Then Weld and the woman left in one of the man's vehicles, the woman told police.

In mid-July, the woman said, Weld came to the house, and he and her boyfriend "were in each other's faces arguing," according to the report. The man gave the title for the motorcycle to Weld, and then Weld drove off on the bike, she told police.

Weld had told the man a neighbor had witnessed the June domestic assault, and the neighbor had called Chief Melnick saying Weld had not made an arrest, according to the report. Weld told him he was suspended and forced to go to an alcohol treatment program because of it.

When Whitney told the man that was not true, he was incredulous.

"You mean I got scammed?" the man asked Whitney several times.

When questioned, Weld denied witnessing the assault and told Whitney he received the motorcycle as payment for work he had done for the man over the years.

"What do you want from me?" Weld asked Whitney, according to the report.

An earlier internal affairs report revealed that in June Weld was ordered to complete an alcohol treatment program, to be on a six-month probation and to work five eight-hour shifts without pay, according to another internal police report.

The complaint alleged residents found Weld on the front steps of a Homer Avenue residence "unresponsive." Another officer who was there at the time said Weld had passed out "from consumption of too much alcohol," the report said.

The report concluded there was evidence Weld violated department rules involving professional image, conduct unbecoming of an officer and off-duty use of alcohol.

Police records released

The state earlier this month ordered Ashland to give copies of eight out of 10 total Police Department internal affairs reports for last year to the Daily News in response to an appeal from the newspaper.

Two reports from last year were withheld, however, because police said they are ongoing investigations, a decision the secretary of state's office upheld. One deals with the distribution of intentionally false information in a flier, and the other is looking into a breach of confidentiality, the release of a law enforcement sensitive memo.

Here is a summary of the eight documents made public:

Complaint against Sgt. Roy Testa alleging he violated department rules of truthfulness and was insubordinate and used conduct unbecoming a police officer. Testa was fired, and later reinstated after an appeal, although he was docked 90 days pay.

Complaint against Officer Don Weld for conduct unbecoming a police officer. The charge was sustained, or found to have sufficient evidence, and Weld was ordered to seek professional counseling, to work overtime shifts without pay and to be on probation for six months.

Complaint against Officer Matt Gutwill alleged he violated department regulations related to conduct unbecoming a police officer, insubordination and breach of confidentiality. The complaint was sustained, but Gutwill transferred to Framingham Police and no action was taken.

Multiple complaints against Chief Roy Melnick alleged he made offensive remarks about Gutwill. The charge was unfounded, and investigators were unable to confirm Melnick made the comments.

Multiple complaints against Melnick saying he violated department policy in regards to truthfulness by lying about issuing orders to Officer Charlie Garbarino. The case was also determined to be unfounded.

Complaint against Garbarino for attempted theft by false pretenses and for using conduct unbecoming a police officer. An investigation found sufficient evidence, and Garbarino was suspended for six months.

Complaint against Garbarino for insubordination and conduct unbecoming a police officer. An investigation found sufficient evidence, and Garbarino was suspended for six months. Police issued a single punishment for Garbarino's two complaints.

Complaint against Weld for conduct unbecoming an officer. An investigation found evidence to support the allegation, and Weld resigned.
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