GLOUCESTER (CBS) — Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken announced Monday that Gloucester’s nationally-recognized Chief of Police was being terminated due to what she called a “lack of integrity” during an investigation into his alleged inappropriate conduct with women.
During a press conference Monday afternoon, Theken said Chief Leonard Campanello, who was placed on paid leave without explanation last month, destroyed evidence on his city-issued cell phone that the city had requested as part of their investigation, and then lied about doing so.
“I’ve lost confidence in Chief Leonard Campanello as a result of his actions,” Theken said Monday. “Chief Campanello’s actions are unethical and entirely unacceptable.”
She said she informed Campanello of her decision Monday morning.
Mayor Theken said Campanello was placed on leave last month because of “disturbing allegations” her office had received about his relationships with women.
The nature of the alleged inappropriate behavior was not released, but Theken did say one of the women in question “expressed concerns about her safety.”
“We’re not going to comment on that,” said Leonard Keston, special counsel for the City of Gloucester, during the press conference Monday afternoon. “His personal life is his personal life.”
As a result of the investigation, Mayor Theken said, Campanello handed over hundreds of pages of his emails with the woman.
When investigators asked to see Campanello’s city-issued cell phone as part of their investigation, Campanello told them it was in his locked office–but investigators found it was not there.
Terrence W. Kennedy, Campanello’s lawyer, then said the phone and other items showed up at his office in Everett in an envelope sent via overnight mail.
Texts and other communications on the phone had been “erased and tampered with,” according to the Mayor’s office.
At that point, on September 29, Campanello said he had no idea how the phone ended up being sent to his lawyer, and suggested the phone may have been taken from his office by someone else in the Gloucester Police Department.
The Essex DA’s office found via surveillance footage that Campanello had mailed the package himself from the Everett Post Office–leading investigators to the conclusion that he had lied about the supposed theft from his office.
“The Mayor has lost confidence in Chief Campanello as a result of his actions, in destroying evidence contained on the cell phone and especially in deceiving the city by suggesting that other employees of the Gloucester Police Department had broken into his office,” the Mayor’s office said in a statement Monday.
Kennedy said the chief cooperated fully with the city’s investigation, and claimed the city was violating his contractual rights.
“This investigation has been a witch-hunt from the beginning and the reasons given by the city for terminating the contract had nothing to do with the original inquiry they were conducting,” Kennedy said in a statement Monday.
The chief will have an opportunity to present evidence and his side of the story at a hearing, as is required in his contract.
Acting Police Chief John McCarthy will continue to run the department in the meantime.
Campanello has gained national headlines for his efforts with the Gloucester Angel Program, which allows heroin addicts to receive treatment rather than be arrested.
In the spring of 2015, with the help of former addicts-turned-counselors, the chief pledged that any heroin user with the desire to get clean could ditch their needles at the police department and get recovery help instead of handcuffs.
The District Attorney raised legal concerns about the chief’s no arrest pledge at the time, but the program drew praise nationwide as a better approach to the opioid crisis, and Campanello was even invited to the White House last April as a “Champion of Change.”
Theken said the Angel program will continue.
The city did not release any information about their investigation into Sergeant Detective Sean Conners, who has been on paid leave since September 8. They said in their release that investigation “remains a personnel matter.”
The department is currently under audit by a New Hampshire firm, and two other outside firms were hired to conduct audits into “the professional conduct” of Campanello and another officer.