State to probe public safety grants to Westwood police
The Associated Press
2/13/2004, 7:18 a.m. ET
BOSTON (AP) -- An investigation into two grant payments to the Westwood Police Department will be undertaken by Public Safety Secretary Edward A. Flynn's office, which is itself being investigated by the FBI, an aide to Flynn said.
The grants under investigation are funded by the federal government and administered by the Executive Office of Public Safety. The money was earmarked for a project called the Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council, a consortium of about 40 suburban police departments.
One grant for $150,000 was awarded Sept. 3, 2003, while Flynn was in office, and the other for $100,000 was awarded Dec. 31, 2002, on the last business day of James P. Jajuga's term in office. Jajuga was Flynn's predecessor as public safety secretary.
The Flynn aide said the public safety probe was ordered after information was presented to the Executive Office of Public Safety by The Boston Globe that raised questions about the purchase of sweatsuits, baseball caps and other athletic clothing with money that was supposed to go toward equipment for the tactical response team.
During a meeting in Boston on Thursday with Flynn's senior managers, a delegation of three chiefs from the MLEC acknowledged that there were problems with paperwork previously submitted to the state to document how the grant money was spent, according to Christine Cole, Flynn's deputy chief of staff.
One of the chiefs, William G. Chase of Westwood, told the Globe Thursday night that he had discussed the grant problems with Flynn's managers, but he declined to elaborate. He said it was possible that some money will have to be returned to the state.
Cole said about $90,000 has not been accounted for by the MLEC through invoices that the council filed with the state.
The MLEC grant approved for the fiscal year that began July 1, 2002, was about half completed with Flynn took office.
Jajuga's actions are part of an FBI investigation of how the state's Executive Office of Public Safety handled about $50 million in state and federal public safety grant money.
Jajuga, a former state senator from Methuen, was public safety secretary from September 2001 to January 2003. During that time, he approved over $1 million in grants to the North Andover, Westwood and Arlington police departments, all in violation of federal regulations, Cole said.
Jajuga's grant approvals benefited clients represented by Crest Associates, run by Richard St. Louis, former public safety chief of staff in 1996 and 1997. Jajuga, who is now a public safety consultant, has occasionally worked for Crest since January.