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WALPOLE

Ex-cop’s new job surprises chief

Theft allegations don’t sway sheriff

By Matt Carroll
Globe Staff / February 10, 2011

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A former Walpole police officer, who resigned after being accused of stealing repeatedly from a supermarket, was hired recently by the Norfolk County Sheriff’s Department because the sheriff believes he “deserved another opportunity.’’

The hiring of David Haddigan, who resigned from the Walpole Police Department in the summer of 2009, had come as a surprise to Police Chief Richard B. Stillman.

Last month, Stillman said, he was contacted by the staff of Sheriff Michael G. Bellotti and asked about Haddigan. Stillman said he told the staffers about the theft allegations.

In mid-January, Haddigan was hired by the sheriff’s department as a corrections officer at the correctional center in Dedham. He is now in training.

“I was very happy to get rid of [Haddigan] and my assumption was that he would never be a police officer again,’’ Stillman said in an interview. “And then he was hired as a corrections officer, something I would never have expected.’’

Dave Weber, a spokesman for Bellotti, pointed to Haddigan’s experience. Haddigan had 17 years of experience in Walpole and in Suffolk County as a corrections officer, as well as a master’s degree in criminal justice, Weber said.

“Other than this matter that erupted at the end in Walpole, he had a spotless record,’’ said Weber, who said Haddigan had told them about the problem. “Weighing all those positives against the one, the sheriff decided he deserved another opportunity.’’

Haddigan, who joined the Walpole Police Department in 2001, resigned after an investigation into allegations that he stole items from the Walpole Stop & Shop. Eight employees told a police investigation they had witnessed thefts.

“He was going in virtually every day while on duty, parking in the fire lane, and he’d take something,’’ Stillman said. “A salad, a newspaper another day, small items.’’

The thefts occurred over the course of about four years, and Haddigan was in uniform when he took the items, Stillman said.

According to the chief, Haddigan denied the allegations. Haddigan earned a base pay of about $60,000 a year, with overtime and details boosting his income to more than $100,000, Stillman said.

Haddigan, 44, will earn about $41,000 in his new job with Norfolk County. His hiring by the sheriff’s department was first reported in the Walpole Times.

Reached at his home this week, Haddigan declined to comment.

“We were somewhat criticized for not pursuing the case criminally,’’ Stillman said, “but from the beginning, I was in touch with the DA’s office, and everyone agreed it was best to get him off the job.’’

Firing Haddigan would have been difficult because of civil service rules, he said.

The allegations against Haddigan are laid out in a May 26, 2009, report to Stillman by Lieutenant Fred Leland. The latest incident allegedly occurred on March 29, 2009. The names of the eight Stop & Shop employees, who gave detailed interviews with investigators, were redacted in the report given to the Globe by police.

The employees stated that Haddigan would walk in and take such things as newspapers, salads, luncheon meats, and muffins. Sometimes he would run muffins through the self-scan machine, but pay for bagels, which were cheaper, they said. Or he would use a single coupon multiple times to get an extra discount. At least one incident was allegedly captured on video.

Haddigan “was stealing newspapers on an almost daily basis between 8:30 and 9 a.m.,’’ the report said. The interviewed employees said many store employees knew about it, including management. But those interviewed said they didn’t report the thefts because they didn’t want problems with police and feared retaliation, and because management was reluctant to act.

One employee told Leland that she had seen Haddigan “take newspapers 4 to 6 times a week including Sundays, when he would take at least two papers and walk out without paying for them.’’

One witness said, “I’m embarrassed for you guys and the good cops.’’

Leland reported that Haddigan denied taking anything without paying. “Anything I took out of the store I paid for,’’ Haddigan was quoted as saying in the report.

Haddigan was placed on administrative leave and was set to have a hearing before the Board of Selectmen. But he resigned before the hearing took place.

Matt Carroll can be reached at mcarroll@globe.com.