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Ex-detective sentenced to 1 year

Stoughton man offers apology

By Jonathan Saltzman
Globe Staff / May 12, 2010

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Anthony Bickerton, a retired Stoughton police detective and former member of the town School Committee, was sentenced yesterday to a year and a day in prison after a federal prosecutor said he had been part of a “culture of casual corruption’’ in the troubled Police Department.

US District Judge Richard G. Stearns said there were “no real excuses’’ for the 60-year-old Stoughton resident’s actions. Bickerton pleaded guilty in February to federal charges of obstruction of justice and making false statements to FBI investigators.

Bickerton was secretly tape-recorded in 2008 by a convicted criminal, who was wearing an FBI wire, arranging the delivery of what the detective thought were four stolen high-definition televisions. He is the second former Stoughton police officer convicted in the case. The scandal also resulted in the resignation of a third officer.

Stearns credited Bickerton with making contributions to his community, including as a police officer for 30 years and a coach of youth sports. The judge rejected a recommendation by Assistant US Attorney Brian T. Kelly that Bickerton serve 15 months in prison and pay a $5,000 fine. Bickerton is broke, Stearns said.

In a brief statement delivered as his wife and a handful of other supporters looked on, Bickerton said he took full responsibility for his actions and apologized. He said it was “hard to imagine,’’ but the “town of Stoughton was always in the back of my mind’’ when he dealt with the man who secretly taped him, a onetime informant whom Bickerton had known for at least a decade.

Bickerton said the informant had helped him solve drug-trafficking investigations and that he wanted to “keep him as close as possible,’’ adding, “This informant saved lives.’’

Kelly quickly rose to his feet.

“I would object that his corruption was a form of crime fighting for the town of Stoughton,’’ he said. “His corruption was to enrich himself.’’

Bickerton is to report to prison June 8. Stearns said he would try to place Bickerton in a setting where, as a former police officer, he would not be endangered by other prisoners. If Bickerton behaves in prison, he could be released in about 10 months, according to his lawyer, Kevin Reddington of Brockton.

In the secretly taped conversations, Bickerton arranged delivery of, and purchased at reduced prices, four televisions for individuals ranging from his daughter to fellow officers, authorities said. Bickerton thought the televisions and a power washer he wanted were stolen.

In another conversation secretly videotaped inside police headquarters, authorities said, Bickerton gave the cooperating witness confidential records from the Registry of Motor Vehicles that the convicted criminal told him he intended to use to obtain credit cards fraudulently. The witness had told the FBI that he had provided Bickerton with more than $30,000 in stolen electronics over the years.

Arlindo Romeiro, a former detective, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about officers receiving stolen gift cards and merchandise and providing the informant with motor vehicle records. Romeiro, who cooperated with authorities, was sentenced last month to three years’ probation and fined $3,000.

A third officer who resigned last fall, Lino Azul, admitted to the FBI that he received two of the four televisions provided by the cooperating witness, as well as $1,000 in retail gift cards, according to an FBI affidavit. Azul also cooperated with authorities.

Bickerton seemed in good spirits yesterday, joking before the hearing began with Reddington, a former schoolmate.

Bickerton resigned from the School Committee shortly after his Jan. 12 arrest.

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