Governor Deval Patrick today appointed veteran state Representative Peter Koutoujian as Middlesex County sheriff, filling the seat left vacant by James V. DiPaola, who committed suicide last year.
"As a former assistant district attorney and relentless advocate for both crime victims and social services, Peter brings a wealth of expertise, passion, and know-how to this critical position," Patrick said in a statement. "I look forward to working with him to strengthen our re-entry programs and reduce youth violence."
Koutoujian, 49, a Waltham Democrat, was first elected to the state House in 1996 with the help of campaign manager Doug Rubin, the political adviser who went on to become Patrick's senior political adviser. Koutoujian served as House chairman of the Joint Committee on Financial Services, which handles banking and insurance matters. For years, he was known for his push to pass a bill that established statewide nutrition standards for schools; the bill was signed into law by Patrick last summer.
Koutoujian worked as an assistant district attorney for Middlesex County for four years before being elected to the House. A graduate of Bridgewater State University and the New England School of Law, he has a master's degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government, according to his legislative biography.
Patrick's appointment was the latest decision made by the governor to restore law enforcement agencies after a time of upheaval and intense public scrutiny in several state and county agencies. On Thursday, the governor demanded the resignation of five members of his parole board after a review of the handling of a parolee who went on to kill a Woburn police officer. On New Year's Eve, State Probation Commissioner John J. O'Brien resigned after a Globe Spotlight team investigation and a review of his agency revealed systemic patronage and sparked state and federal criminal investigations.
DiPaola, the former sheriff, killed himself in November after public scrutiny following news reports about his plan to simultaneously collect his salary and his pension and a state Ethics Commission investigation.
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