Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

December 5, 2013

Officer accused of DWI crash resigns

Robitaille still facing Jan. 9 court hearing

By Dustin Luca
dluca@andovertownsman.com

---- — Police officer Evan Robitaille resigned last week amid an investigation into an alleged hit-and-run, drunken-driving accident in March.

Robitaille, 32, remains due in court on Jan. 9 for a hearing set to determine if probable cause exists to charge him with operating under the influence of liquor, leaving the scene of an accident causing property damage, negligent operation of a motor vehicle and failure to use care in starting, stopping, turning or backing up a motor vehicle.

His resignation was delivered early last week in writing to Police Chief Patrick Keefe and took effect immediately, according to Commander Charles Heseltine.

Robitaille had been on leave since the investigation into the March 11 accident began, Heseltine said.

Initially, he was on paid administrative leave.

However, “as a result of the internal affairs investigation, on Oct. 18, Officer Robitaille was placed on administrative leave without pay,” Heseltine said.

Heseltine declined to comment on the reason for the change to unpaid leave or how much Robitaille had been paid to that point.

He also declined further comment on Robitaille’s resignation, saying he “can’t get into it because it’s a personnel matter.”

Robitaille’s attorney, Ted Cranney, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Stephanie Guyotte, spokeswoman for the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office, also said she couldn’t comment on Robitaille’s case because “we have an investigation ongoing.”

Robitaille was one of two Andover police officers honored as officers of the year by the Exchange Club of Lawrence in January for their on-duty heroics in 2012.

According to town employee salary data available through the website TownOfAndover.com, Robitaille was paid $72,125 in regular pay in 2012, with off-duty detail, overtime, retroactive pay and more bringing his total pay for the year to $117,874.

Robitaille is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 9 for a clerk magistrate’s hearing, The hearing was originally scheduled for Sept. 6, then continued to Nov. 22. It was then postponed to January after Robitaille failed to “answer” and present himself when called for the appearance, according to employees in the Lowell District Court clerk’s office.

Peter Caruso of Andover, the attorney for The Andover Townsman, has filed a motion to intervene in the court proceedings and open them to the public. The motion argues that the case is “one of special public significance,” and “the legitimate interest of the public outweighs the right of privacy of the accused,” Caruso wrote in the motion.

Traditionally, clerk magistrate hearings on applications for criminal complaints are closed. The two parties in the case typically argue their positions, and the magistrate issues a decision to issue a criminal complaint or deny the application without it ever becoming public, according to Caruso.