By Bill Kirk
---- — Former Andover Patrolman Evan Robitaille was indicted last week by a Middlesex County grand jury on charges of drunken driving, leaving the scene of an accident, reckless operation of a motor vehicle and misleading a police officer.
Robitaille, 33, will be arraigned on the charges on May 12 in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn, according to Stephanie Chelf Guyotte, a spokeswoman for Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan.
The indictment stems from a case that is more than a year old. During the morning of March 11, 2013, Robitaille, a Groveland resident, 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.
According to published reports, the off-duty officer then parked his SUV in a retail complex in Lowell, where he was reportedly confronted by the driver of a pickup truck who witnessed the accident on the highway.
Lowell police were called and they took Robitaille to a McDonald’s restaurant on Route 38, and had his car towed to Elm Street Automotive in Andover, according to documents reviewed by the media. Witnesses at the scene said Robitaille appeared intoxicated.
Following an internal affairs investigation, a Lowell police officer has been reprimanded for his role in the case, as the police commander claims he may have acted improperly by giving Robitaille a ride in a police cruiser and for arranging for the private tow of his damaged vehicle.
Andover police were also involved. According to court documents, Robitaille contacted officer Daniel Devine, who was on a break from a traffic detail. Devine went to Lowell to pick up Robitaille, giving him a ride to Elm Street Auto, where his car had been towed.
The owner of Elm Street Auto called Lt. Edward Guy, then a sergeant, to report that Robitaille was there. Guy arrived and soon called then-Chief Brian Pattullo.
Pattullo ordered then-Sgt. Patrick Keefe to Elm Street Auto, according to Commander Charles Heseltine. Keefe, who became chief just a few months later, took Robitaille home. Several witnesses in Andover also reported that Robitaille appeared intoxicated.
That same day, March 11, Chief Pattullo ordered Robitaille placed on paid administrative leave and to forfeit his gun and badge.
More than six months later, on Oct. 18, Robitaille was placed on unpaid leave after an Andover internal affairs investigation into the incident. He resigned a month later. He earned about $93,000 in 2013, according to city records. In 2012, he earned about $115,000, including overtime details and other benefits.
Robitaille’s attorney, Ted Cranney of Andover, has not returned calls.
The Andover Townsman last week requested to review the Andover Police Department’s internal affairs report on the case. Heseltine said he would respond within the 10-day time limit set by law.
Under secretary of state, guidelines, while personnel records are exempt from the public records law, meaning they do not have to be released, internal affairs reports may be treated differently.
According to the secretary of state’s website, the state Appeals Court has ruled that “officers’ reports, witness interview summaries and the internal affairs report itself do not fall within the personnel information exemption, as these documents relate to the workings and determinations of the internal affairs process whose quintessential purpose is to inspire public confidence.”