Framingham officer who filed whistleblower suit back on duty December 20, 2016
Jim Haddadin 617-863-7144 Metrowest Daily News

FRAMINGHAM - With his lawsuit against the police department still in the works, a longtime narcotics detective who was relieved of duty following a heated exchange with the police chief is back on the job.

Detective Matthew Gutwill returned to work Monday after spending more than three months on paid administrative leave.

Gutwill, who previously held a prestigious post with a federal drug task force, has been reassigned to work as a uniformed patrol officer, according to the town's acting police chief, Steven Trask. Gutwill is currently assigned to the day shift, though he will be free to pick a shift that fits his schedule, Trask said.

Gutwill's return marks a drastic turn of events for the veteran officer, who was set to undergo a disciplinary hearing Monday. While he faced potential termination, Gutwill instead received a five-day suspension - the harshest punishment the police department can dispense without requiring a hearing, according to Gutwill's lawyer, Kenneth Anderson.

Gutwill received the suspension notice Dec. 12. He has since appealed the decision, said Anderson, who was appointed to represent Gutwill on behalf of the police union.

"He was relieved in the sense that they had indicated they were going to terminate him," Anderson said Tuesday. "He's frustrated in the sense that we feel it's completely unwarranted and unjustified."

Chief Kenneth Ferguson accused Gutwill earlier this year of being "untruthful" during an internal affairs investigation into remarks Gutwill allegedly made to the chief during a Feb. 5 phone call.

After learning he would be rotated off the regional task force that assists the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Gutwill allegedly told Ferguson he was going to "blow the place up," "turn the place upside-down" or words to that effect. Ferguson construed the remarks to mean Gutwill would stir controversy within the department if he was transferred off the narcotics group.

The town subsequently hired an independent lawyer to investigate Gutwill's remarks to the police chief. In a pair of reports issued in August and September, the lawyer found that Gutwill "was not credible" when she interviewed him about his conversation with the police chief. Ferguson placed Gutwill on paid administrative leave Aug. 19 and later requested a hearing to determine if he should be disciplined or fired.

Gutwill then leveled scathing allegations against several fellow officers in October, claiming in a federal whistleblower lawsuit that the police chief retaliated against him for notifying the FBI and other authorities about perceived misconduct within the department.

According to the complaint, about a year before he was placed on leave, Gutwill "made himself very unpopular with a certain segment of the FPD" when he claimed a fellow detective knowingly lied under oath while testifying in court.

An internal affairs investigation determined that Gutwill was right, but Ferguson asked the investigating officer to change his finding, the lawsuit alleges. When the officer refused, a new investigator came up with a contradicting finding, ruling the detective did not lie on the stand, the complaint alleges.

A lawyer hired by the town to represent the police chief has yet to formally respond to the lawsuit in court.

In comments provided to a local television station earlier this year, Town Manager Bob Halpin there is "an absence of fact" in Gutwill's allegations.

Trask declined Tuesday to discuss the case.

"I'm not going to comment on any ongoing litigation," he said.

A federal judge has scheduled a pretrial hearing to discuss the timeline for the civil suit in early January.

While Gutwill is still pursuing relief in court, Anderson said his client will faithfully execute his duties on the police force.

"He's looking to clear his name," Anderson said, "and he's looking to serve the community the best he can."

Daily News staff writer Norman Miller contributed to this report. Jim Haddadin can be reached at 617-863-7144 or jhaddadin@wickedlocal.com. Follow him on Twitter: @JimHaddadin.

http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/article/20161220/NEWS/161229354

Framingham drops lawsuit against police union November 18,2016
Jim Haddadin 617-863-7144 Metrowest Daily News
FRAMINGHAM - Facing a lawsuit from the town, the Framingham Police Officers Union has agreed to drop its demand for arbitration in the case of a drug task force member who remains on administrative leave.

The union challenged Chief Kenneth Ferguson's Aug. 19 decision to relieve Officer Matthew Gutwill of duty, arguing the move violated a collective bargaining agreement.

It has since agreed to withdraw the labor complaint, however, changing course after it was sued in Middlesex Superior Court.

The town on Oct. 31 asked a judge to bar the union's demand for arbitration, contending Framingham police officers don't have that option under the terms of their employment.

Union representatives then voluntarily withdrew the request after learning the town was seeking a preliminary injunction in court, according to the town's lawyer, Christopher Petrini.

The town on Wednesday notified a judge it wishes to dismiss the lawsuit, though it left open the possibility of going to court again in the future.

The decision paves the way for the police department to proceed with a disciplinary hearing scheduled in Gutwill's case, which stems from comments he allegedly made to the police chief during a heated exchange in February.

After learning he would be rotated off of the regional task force that assists the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Gutwill allegedly told Ferguson during a Feb. 5 phone call that he was going to "blow the place up," "turn the place upside-down" or words to that effect.

According to the town, Ferguson construed the remarks to mean Gutwill would "cause considerable controversy within the Framingham Police Department" if he was transferred off the narcotics group.

During the same call, Gutwill also allegedly told Ferguson one of the town's deputy police chiefs had been recorded on a federal wiretap - a suggestion, Ferguson believed, that the officer was involved in criminal activity.

The town subsequently hired an independent lawyer to investigate Gutwill's remarks to the police chief. In a pair of reports issued in August and September, the lawyer found that Gutwill "was not credible" when she interviewed him about his conversation with the police chief.

Ferguson placed Gutwill on paid administrative leave and later requested a hearing to determine if he should be disciplined or fired for allegedly making "untruthful statements" to the town's investigator.

Initially scheduled for the end of November, the two-day hearing is now slated to take place Dec. 19 and 21, according to Gutwill's lawyer, Kenneth Anderson.

In the interim, Anderson said his client is seeking additional discovery material from the town, including the full report filed by the town's investigator, which has yet to be released.

"We intend to vigorously contest this," Anderson said Friday. "We feel that he's been unfairly targeted both in the manner the investigations were conducted and the results that were reached, as well as the town turning a blind eye to other misconduct by other officers."

Gutwill is also pursuing a federal whistleblower lawsuit against the town, in which he alleges the chief retaliated against him because he voiced concerns about the police department to the FBI.

Gutwill claims he "made himself very unpopular with a certain segment of the FPD" when he alleged a fellow detective knowingly lied under oath while testifying in court.

An internal affairs investigation determined that Gutwill was right, but Ferguson asked the investigating officer to change his finding, the lawsuit alleges. When the officer refused, a new investigator came up with a contradicting finding, ruling the detective did not lie on the stand, the complaint alleges.

Daily News staff writer Norman Miller contributed to this report. Jim Haddadin can be reached at 617-863-7144 or jhaddadin@wickedlocal.com. Follow him on Twitter: @JimHaddadin.

UPDATED: Suspended Framingham Detective Files Lawsuit Against Town, Police Chief November 1, 2016
Susan Petroni 508-315-7176 Framingham Source
A suspended Framingham police detective has filed a federal lawsuit against the Town of Framingham and Framingham Police Chief Ken Ferguson alleging his civil rights were violated when he reported corruption complaints against about the police department to the FBI.

Det. Matthew Gutwill, who is a 12-year veteran of the Framingham Police Department, was suspended by Chief Ferguson on August 19, 2016.

In the lawsuit Gutwill's lawyer argues Gutwill's federal civil rights were violated, aloso citing the "whistlebower statute" when "Chief Ferguson trumped up a charge of "untruthfulness" against Det. Gutwill and suspended him, all in retaliation for his filing an internal complaint against a fellow officer and reporting corruption within the Framingham Police to the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

The court documents state that one year before Gutwill was suspended he "made himself very unpopular within a segment of the Framingham Police when he reported that a fellow officer" had testified untruthful in court.

The court document states that after an "Internal Affairs officer conducted an extensive investigation into Det. Gutwill's complaint and found (the detective) had been untruthful on the stand, Chief Ferguson took the highly improper and unusual step of asking the Internal Affairs officer who wrote the report to reverse his findings. When that officer refused, Chief Ferguson appointed another officer who, unsurprisingly, wrote a new report with contradictory findings."

In February, according to court documents, "during a lengthy phone conversation with Chief Ferguson, Det. Gutwill told Chief Ferguson that he had gone to the FBI and reported FPD corruption and wrongdoing. On this call, Det. Gutwill complained to Chief Ferguson about his failing to control his deputy chiefs, his interference in the (detective) investigation, his retaliating against him by removing him from the DEA Task Force, and other instances of improper and illegal conduct within the FPD unrelated to Det. Gutwill."

According to the court documents, "Chief Ferguson decided to take even more decisive action to silence Det. Gutwill, this time using a method that he and his deputies had already successfully employed with several other officers who dared to speak out, that is, to trump up a charge of "untruthfulness" and use that to force an officer to resign."

According to the court documents Gutwill, who lives in Ashland, on January 28, 2016 with his attorney met with FBI Special Agent

Kevin Constantine and FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jared Hewitt and told them about "multiple instances of corruption" with the Framingham Police Department.

The complaints include:

Detectives took "mementos" from crime scenes and did not record the evidence. Narcotics officers falsified information in affidavits. The detectives let confidential informants buy drugs for their own use after making undercover buys for police. Narcotics cops also used an informant to create probable cause for search warrants - even after they were informed by the DEA the informant was involved in illegal activity and intercepted on a federal wire. Chief Ferguson allowed the internal affairs officer to study for his law degree while on duty. Deputy chiefs failed to put in full work weeks; Chief Ferguson was aware of multiple sergeants double dipping, claiming they were taking a day off work but instead working "overtime" or banking regular duty pay while working a detail at the same time. Framingham Source was the first media outlet to publish about Gutwill's paid administrative leave in September.

"Det. Gutwill is currently on paid administrative leave pending disciplinary action," said Framingham Town Manager Bob Halpin.

"Earlier this year, Det. Gutwill made allegations that included his being retaliated against due to his report of issues within the Framingham Police department. The town conducted an extensive, independent and thorough investigation of the three allegations that Mr. Gutwill made.In each of the cases, the independent investigator found that there was no validity to the allegations. In fact, in two instances it was found that Mr. Gutwill was untruthful," said Halpin in a statement.

"When the Town formally receives the complaint, we will review it. Until then, we have no choice but to withhold additional comment,"said Halpin.

Framingham: Detective files suit against chief, town November 2, 2016
Norman Miller 508-626-3823 Metrowest Daily News
FRAMINGHAM - A Framingham Police detective, placed on leave earlier this year, has filed a federal lawsuit against Police Chief Ken Ferguson and the town claiming they are retaliating against him for filing a corruption complaint with the FBI.

Detective Matthew Gutwill, who was placed on leave in August, filed suit in U.S. District Court on Friday alleging his civil rights were violated and a violation of the Massachusetts Public Employee Whistleblower statute.

According to the complaint, about a year before he was placed on leave, Gutwill "made himself very unpopular with a certain segment of the FPD," when he claimed a fellow detective knowingly lied under oath while testifying in court.

An internal affairs investigation determined that Gutwill was right, but Ferguson asked the investigating officer to change their finding, the lawsuit alleges. When the officer refused, a new investigator came up with a contradicting finding, ruling the detective did not lie on the stand, the complaint alleges.

At the same time, Ferguson removed Gutwill from a federal task force he was working on, claiming that the federal Drug Enforcement Agency asked for him to be removed. Gutwill's complaint calls that a lie.

"Chief Ferguson was motivated to improperly interfere in the internal affairs investigation because he wanted to cover up a police officer's perjury and thus avoid additional bad press," Gutwill's complaint alleges, referring to the continuing investigation into missing money from the department's evidence room.

Gutwill met with the FBI in January to discuss what he called the "entrenched practice of tolerating corruption," within the department, discussing both the allegations of the other officer lying under oath and other departmental problems.

Gutwill told Ferguson in February that he had contacted the FBI.

Ferguson, according to the complaint, was "apoplectic" when he found out, and started a campaign to discredit Gutwill, going as far as opening an investigation against him. After an internal investigation, Ferguson placed Gutwill on leave, claiming that Gutwill lied to the internal investigator. The chief said Gutwill told him he would "blow the place up," "turn it upside down," or "something to that effect," according to an account in the court filing. Gutwill denied ever saying anything like that, the lawsuit says.

Other allegations made by Gutwill included that other Framingham Police detectives allowed informants to buy drugs for themselves after they bought drugs as part of an investigation; detectives took items from crime scenes improperly and hung them as office decorations; an officer was allowed to study for law school while on duty; and attorney Brian Simoneau, the chief's assistant, was allowed to represent clients in court during work hours and to use department resources for non-department purposes.

Ferguson said he could not comment due to the ongoing case. Town Manager Bob Halpin told Fox 25 there is "an absence of fact in the allegations."

Halpin also told FOX25, "I can confirm Detective Gutwill is currently on paid administrative leave pending disciplinary action. Earlier this year after allegations made by Detective Gutwill, including that he was being retaliated against, the town conducted an extensive, independent investigation of three allegations made by Detective Gutwill. And in each of the cases, found that there was no validity to the allegations and in fact, in several instances found that Detective Gutwill was untruthful."

Neither the town nor Ferguson has filed responses to the federal complaint.

Framingham Places Police Detective and Lieutenant on Paid Leave November 2, 2016
Erin Smith Fox 25
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. - A Framingham police detective has filed a federal lawsuit, claiming town officials retaliated against him for reporting corruption allegations against fellow cops to the FBI, FOX25 has learned.

Framingham Police Det. Matthew Gutwill, a 12-year veteran of the department, filed the lawsuit in Boston federal court Friday against the Town of Framingham and Police Chief Kenneth Ferguson, according to federal court records.

Gutwill claims in his federal complaint that he was suspended from his job Aug. 19 in retaliation for reporting that a fellow detective lied under oath on the stand.

Gutwill accuses Chief Ferguson of covering up the allegations against the officer and interfering with the internal investigation, court records show.

"These are very serious allegations by a respected and admired public servant, who woke up every morning to get drugs off the street," Gutwill's attorney, Seth Robbins told FOX25. "He's looking forward to litigating the issues in federal court and seeking justice."

The allegations of misdeeds and corruption inside the Framingham Police Department are also detailed in the federal court papers.

According to court records, Gutwill reported to the FBI earlier this year:

Detectives took "mementos" from crime scenes, which they did not catalogue and hung in their offices as decorations; Narcotics unit officers falsified information in affidavits in to hide that they let confidential informants buy drugs for their own use after making undercover buys for police; Narcotics cops also used an informant to create probable cause for search warrants - even after they were informed by the DEA and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that the informant was involved in illegal activity and intercepted on a federal wire; Chief Ferguson allowed one officer to study for his law degree while on duty; An attorney, who was employed as the police chief's assistant and a special police officer, was allowed to appear in court on behalf of his private clients during work hours and access law enforcement databases to help those clients; Deputy chiefs failed to put in full work weeks; Chief Ferguson was aware of multiple sergeants double dipping, claiming they were taking a day off work but instead working "overtime" or banking regular duty pay while working a detail at the same time. Read the full complaint here Framingham Town Manager Bob Halpin hit back against those allegations, telling FOX25, "We note an absence of fact in the allegations."

Halpin also told FOX25, "I can confirm Det. Gutwill is currently on paid administrative leave pending disciplinary action. Earlier this year after allegations made by Det. Gutwill, including that he was being retaliated against, the town conducted an extensive, independent investigation of three allegations made by Det. Gutwill. And in each of the cases, found that there was no validity to the allegations and in fact, in several instances found that Det. Gutwill was untruthful."

The federal complaint alleges that Police Chief Ferguson accused Gutwill of "untruthfulness" and opened an investigation into his actions in March - about a month after Gutwill spoke with the FBI.

Ferguson placed Gutwill on administrative leave Aug. 19 after an investigation into Gutwill's "untruthfulness," according to court records.

"... the Chief turned what was supposed to be an investigation into corruption and other wrongdoing in his department into an investigation into the person who blew the whistle," states Gutwill's complaint.

An FBI spokeswoman would not confirm or deny an investigation and declined to comment on the matter.

Chief Ferguson was reappointed to a new, three-year term by selectmen in June after Halpin told the board the chief had set a "great tone" for the department, according to a MetroWest Daily News article at the time.

Framingham Places Police Detective and Lieutenant on Paid Leave September 7, 2016
Susan Petroni 508-315-7176 Framingham Source
FRAMINGHAM - Within the last two weeks, the Framingham Police Department has placed a detective and a lieutenant on paid leave.

Framingham Police confirmed to Framingham Source that Framingham Detective Matthew Gutwill and Lieutenant Vincent Stuart are both on "paid administrative leave."

The police department said the two leaves are not related. The police department said it could not provide any details on why the police employees are on leave.

Neither case is related to a theft in the evidence room being investigated by the Massachusetts Attorney General's office.

Stuart, who grew up in Framingham and graduated from Keefe Technical, joined the Framingham Police Department in 2000, after time with the U.S. Marine Corps. He was part of the Framingham Police Department's SWAT team, until it was disbanded. He participated in the manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers in Watertown, after the Boston Marathon bombings. Stuart, who has received several awards with the Framingham Police department, was promoted to lieutenant in April 2014.

Gutwill was hired by Former Framingham Police Chief Steven Carl. Prior to working for Framingham, he was a member of the Ashland Police Department.

Framingham sues police union over drug detective's case November 14, 2016
Jim Haddadin 617-863-7144 Metrowest Daily News
FRAMINGHAM - With a veteran narcotics officer set to face a disciplinary hearing later this month, town officials are battling in court to block the Framingham Police Officers Union from taking his case to arbitration.

The town is asking a superior court judge to bar the union from arbitrating Chief Kenneth Ferguson's decision to place the officer - longtime drug task force member Matthew Gutwill - on paid administrative leave.

Gutwill is accused of being "untruthful" during an internal affairs investigation into remarks he allegedly made to the police chief earlier this year.

While Gutwill is scheduled to attend a disciplinary hearing later this month, the police union is fighting Ferguson's decision to relieve Gutwill of duty. According to court filings, the union has asked the American Arbitration Association to intervene in Gutwill's case, arguing the police chief violated the union's contract by placing Gutwill on leave.

The dispute marks the latest chapter in a messy legal fight between the town and Gutwill, who alleges the chief is retaliating against him because he voiced concerns about the police department to the FBI.

In a federal whistleblower lawsuit filed late last month, Gutwill claims he "made himself very unpopular with a certain segment of the FPD" when he alleged a fellow detective knowingly lied under oath while testifying in court.

An internal affairs investigation determined that Gutwill was right, but Ferguson asked the investigating officer to change his finding, the lawsuit alleges. When the officer refused, a new investigator came up with a contradicting finding, ruling the detective did not lie on the stand, the complaint alleges.

Around the same time, Ferguson removed Gutwill from a federal drug task force, setting the stage for a contentious phone call between Gutwill and the police chief.

Gutwill allegedly told Ferguson during a Feb. 5 phone call that he was going to "blow the place up," "turn the place upside-down" or words to that effect.

According to the town, Ferguson construed the remarks to mean Gutwill would "cause considerable controversy within the Framingham Police Department" if he was transferred off the narcotics group.

During the same call, Gutwill also allegedly told Ferguson one of the town's deputy police chiefs had been recorded on a federal wiretap - a suggestion, Ferguson believed, that the officer was involved in criminal activity.

The town subsequently hired an independent lawyer to investigate Gutwill's remarks to the police chief. In a pair of reports issued in August and September, the lawyer found that Gutwill "was not credible" when she interviewed him about his conversation with the police chief, and that his conduct "violated established rules and standard(s) governing truthfulness, integrity during investigations, and conduct unbecoming an officer," according to the town's court filings.

Ferguson placed Gutwill on leave Aug. 19 and later requested a hearing to determine if he should be disciplined or fired for allegedly making "untruthful statements" to the town's investigator.

Both Ferguson and Town Manager Bob Halpin denied a grievance filed by the union on Gutwill's behalf, asserting that the police chief acted within his "inherent managerial right" to place an officer on leave. The union then filed a demand for arbitration last month, alleging Ferguson disciplined Gutwill without just cause and retaliated against him for exercising his legal rights, among other things.

Gutwill is scheduled to face a disciplinary hearing Nov. 28, though it's unclear whether the event will take place.

In an Oct. 31 lawsuit filed against the union in Middlesex Superior Court, the town claims its most recent collective bargaining agreement with the union prevents members from seeking arbitration when they're placed on leave.

The town contends union members must appeal such disciplinary actions to the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission. Language in the union contract stipulates that members cannot file grievances regarding matters that fall under the commission's jurisdiction, according to the town.

Records on file at Middlesex Superior Court indicate a judge has yet to decide on the town's request for a preliminary injunction against the union.

Efforts Monday evening to reach lawyers representing the town and the union were unsuccessful.

Daily News staff writer Norman Miller contributed to this report. Jim Haddadin can be reached at 617-863-7144 or jhaddadin@wickedlocal.com. Follow him on Twitter: @JimHaddadin.

Send comments to: hjw2001@gmail.com