Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

February 20, 2014

Former officer faces charges

Robitaille probe leads to police sanctions in Lowell

By Dustin Luca
dluca@andovertownsman.com

---- — Ex-Andover police officer Evan Robitaille has pleaded not guilty to a variety of charges stemming from an alleged drunken driving accident last March.

Robitaille, 32, of Groveland, resigned from the Police Department in November as the investigation into the March 11, 2013 crash in Tewksbury moved forward.

Robitaille was in Lowell District Court last Friday, Feb. 14, to answer to charges of operating under the influence of alcohol, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, leaving the scene of an accident with property damage and a state highway violation. He’s due back in court for a pre-trial conference on April 8.

According to court documents obtained by the Lowell Sun and reported this past weekend, Robitaille allegedly rear-ended a box-truck on Interstate 495 south in Tewksbury and then took off, exiting the highway in a Honda Pilot at Woburn Street, exit 37.

Robitaille, court documents say, was confronted by a witness in the Gulf/Dunkin’ Donuts complex in Lowell. People who allegedly witnessed Robitaille in the complex are reported to have told investigators that the former officer appeared intoxicated.

Lowell police took Robitaille to a McDonald’s restaurant on Route 38, and had his car towed to Elm Street Automotive in Andover, the documents say.

According to a probe by the Andover Police Department into the incident, Andover officer Daniel Devine allegedly told his superiors that he was on a break from a detail when he received a call from Robitaille asking to be picked up. Upon reaching Robitaille, Devine found Robitaille was incoherent, court documents state.

Devine drove Robitaille to Elm Street Automotive, the owner of which reportedly called Andover Police Lt. Edward Guy, who drove to the business and met with Robitaille.

Robitaille allegedly appeared disheveled, emitted a strong odor of alcohol and the smell of vomit, and his speech was slurred, according to court documents.

Andover Police Commander Charles Heseltine said on Tuesday that Guy next called now-retired Andover Police Chief Brian Pattullo at the station and reported “what was going on.”

Pattullo was working at the time with then-Sgt. Patrick Keefe, who went on to replace him as police chief last year.

“Sgt. Keefe responded down there per Chief Pattullo,” Heseltine said.

Keefe drove Robitaille to his home in Groveland and, “per Chief Pattullo, he was informed he was being placed on administrative leave effective that day,” Heseltine said.

“He was informed he would be put on administrative leave, at which point he turned over his department weapon and badge to Sgt. Keefe,” Heseltine said.

Robitaille remained on paid, administrative leave until Oct. 18, at which point the internal affairs investigation wrapped up, according to Heseltine. As a result of the investigation, Robitaille was then placed on leave without pay. He resigned around a month later.

As the events come to light, scrutiny is intensifying on the Lowell Police Department’s handling of the accident, according to the Lowell Sun.

The department’s abstract report notes two units responded to a call for an accident with no injuries on March 11. The abstract indicated that no tow was ordered and lists no complainant or victim. The disposition of the call was reported as “COMPLETE NO RPT,” according to The Sun.

Lowell police officers have been sanctioned over their response to the crash. Lowell police spokesman Capt. Kelly Richardson told The Lowell Sun the incident “was brought to our attention and was investigated. After the conclusion of the investigation, the appropriate sanctions were applied.”

No such scrutiny has taken place in Andover, according to Heseltine. The only investigation that has occurred locally was the internal review of Robitaille.

Robitaille’s attorney, Ted Cranney of North Main Street in Andover, could not be reached for comment.