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Thursday, June 17, 2004

Glodis ride cut short in Webster

Conflicting reports on late-night incident

By Dianne Williamson

The sleek BMW was loaded in more ways than one.

When it was pulled over by police in the early morning hours of June 11, its occupants included the sister-in-law of a powerful Central Massachusetts lawmaker and a high-profile state senator running for sheriff of Worcester County.

But My Guy Glodis beat a hasty retreat from the scene before the driver was placed in handcuffs and taken to the Webster Police Station, only to be released with no charges filed, despite some indications that she was to be arrested for drunken driving.

Police insist that no special consideration was given to Renee Dupont, sister-in-law of state Rep. Paul Kujawski, D-Webster, and that it was of no consequence whatsoever that Ms. Dupont and My Guy had been in the company of the town's provisional police chief at a Glodis campaign event before the Beamer was stopped on Thompson Road.

"The officer used his discretion," said Webster Chief William J. Keefe. "She was given a written warning for speeding and sent on her way ... Someone is trying to stir up trouble."

Discretion is surely a wonderful thing, but some are indeed questioning the police version of events while others are frantically dropping dimes to media outlets far and wide in an apparent attempt to embarrass My Guy, the Webster chief, Ms. Dupont, Rep. Kujawski or all of the above. Because the only thing dirtier than the sheriff's race in Worcester County is town politics in Webster.

"I'm trying to get some answers myself," said Selectman Mark G. Dowgiewicz, a retired state trooper. "It's a funny situation."

A Webster police officer was more blunt in his assessment.

"This one stinks from the get-go," said the officer, who for obvious reasons asked not to be identified.

Chief Keefe is a South County coordinator for the campaign of My Guy, who is trying mightily to unseat Sheriff John M. Flynn, who enjoys the support of Rep. Kujawski and several Webster police officers. On June 10, a campaign event was held for My Guy at the Webster Elks. After the party, some of the attendees headed to Waterfront Mary's to unwind, including My Guy, Chief Keefe and Ms. Dupont.

According to My Guy, Ms. Dupont asked him shortly before 1 a.m. if he wanted a ride to his car, which was parked at the Elks. My Guy and one of his staffers accepted. My Guy is a friend of Ms. Dupont's husband, Jan Kujawski, who, in a nifty bit of irony, happens to be an investigator for the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.

Neither Ms. Dupont nor her husband returned phone calls this week.

Officer Thomas V. Ralph said he pulled Ms. Dupont over for speeding on Thompson Road and then smelled alcohol coming from the car. He said he asked Ms. Dupont to step out of the Beamer, but says he did not administer a field sobriety test because she was wearing three-inch heels, a revelation that yesterday prompted one of my colleagues to note that he planned to wear three-inch heels while driving from now on.

My Guy, meanwhile, described Ms. Dupont as distraught.

"There was an animated conversation that took place between her and the officer," was how he put it. "She was saying that she wanted to talk to someone in charge."

Likely sensing that no good would come of his continued presence, My Guy said he asked the officer if he could drive Ms. Dupont's car to his own car at the Elks, which he did. Asked if he believed Ms. Dupont was intoxicated, he said, "That's not for me to comment on." He later added, "She didn't appear intoxicated to me."

After My Guy left, Officer Ralph acknowledged that he slapped handcuffs on Ms. Dupont, placed her in his cruiser and radioed to the dispatcher that he was bringing someone in "under 90-24," the state's drunken-driving statute.

Once at the station, however, he said he determined by speaking with Ms. Dupont that she was not intoxicated, and she was released. No Breathalyzer was administered, he said.

Chief Keefe, meanwhile, acknowledged that he received a telephone call about 1:25 a.m. from someone notifying him that Ms. Dupont had been "stopped and brought to the station." He declined to identify the caller. He said he called the station again about 25 minutes later, and Ms. Dupont had already been released.

Officer Ralph said he never spoke to the chief that morning. But the chief said that when he called the station, he spoke to Officer Ralph. Which means, although it's none of my business, that these men should try harder next time to get their stories straight.

When told that Officer Ralph offered a conflicting version of events, Chief Keefe said, "This is a bogus thing. I had nothing to do with this. I never made a call to let her go and I have nothing to hide ... I can't say why the officer did what he did and I can't speak for the officer. But I don't play games and I don't play favorites."

Officer Ralph, meanwhile, maintained that stopping Ms. Dupont was a "no-win situation" and that no special favors were given.

"I don't owe anything to anyone," he said. "Personally, I've been screwed by this town ... The town would like nothing more than to get rid of me."

He was referring to his recent demotion from deputy chief to patrolman, just one in a series of shake-ups in a department plagued last year by so much rancor and paranoia that some members of the force became "wandering paparazzi, snapping photos of each other," according to an investigative report.

A camera would have come in handy June 11. Because despite police protestations to the contrary, something tells me we still don't have the full picture.

Dianne Williamson can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].
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