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Suspended Waltham police chief guilty on two assault counts, acquitted on others

Posted by Tom Coakley  June 26, 2013 11:02 AM

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A Concord District Court jury on Wednesday found suspended Waltham police Chief Thomas LaCroix guilty of twice assaulting his wife, Andrea, in fits of anger on June 12 last year at the couple’s Maynard home.

The jury convicted LaCroix on two assault and battery counts: one in which he picked up his wife and threw her cross the couple’s garage, and another which left her with a bloody, swollen lip.

He was acquitted on charges that he assaulted his wife by slamming her head on to a kitchen countertop, that he attacked his wife’s friend Shannon Policano, and that he threatened to kill both of them if they went to police.

Reached by phone after the verdicts, Thomas LaCroix declined comment.

His defense attorney Thomas Drechsler said that he is considering an appeal in the case.

"My client, he's a fighter, and we will continue to review options in this case,'' he said.

Judge J. Elizabeth Cremens set July 10 for sentencing. LaCroix faces up to 2 1/2 years in jail for each assault and battery count.

LaCroix has been on paid leave from his chief’s job since his arrest by Maynard police on June 14 last year.

Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy said the city is going through an administrative process to stop paying LaCroix. She has said that Waltham officials would wait until after the trial before beginning an investigation into whether LaCroix should keep his job.

The guilty verdicts came after about six hours of deliberations and even though Andrea LaCroix had testified that her husband has never assaulted her.

"My husband has never laid a hand on me... ever," she in testimony during the five-day trial.

LaCroix said she injured herself in June last year when she fell while attacking her husband during a long and bitter argument.

But Policano, testified that Andrea LaCroix showed up on her doorstep on June 12 last year, shaking and with a swollen and bloody lip. She said LaCroix told her, "Tom just beat the (expletive) out of me."

Policano also testified that when she and Andrea went to the LaCroix home to retrieve Andrea's clothes and cell phone, she saw Thomas slam his wife's head into the kitchen counter and pick her up and throw her in the garage.

Also two employees at TJX headquarters in Framingham, where Andrea works as an audit manager, testified she told them, in separate conversations on June 13 last year that her husband had assaulted her. One of the witnesses said she noticed Andrea’s swollen lip and bruises.

On Wednesday, before the verdicts, jurors had asked to see a magnified version of a surveillance video that was taken of Andrea when she went to the Maynard Police Department on the night of June 12 last year.

In his closing remarks Tuesday, Drechsler pointed to the surveillance video, which, he said, showed that Andrea was walking normally and not with a limp. He also cited medical records in which a doctor wrote that Andrea's lip was not swollen, as Policano said, and that she did not have bruises on her arms and legs, as her work friend Claire Coen testified.

Drechsler said Policano made "gross exaggerations" in her accusations -- citing text messages to her friends and sister about the alleged attack -- and questioned her credibility. "[Shannon's friend] texted her, 'Isn't this town drama awesome?'... Instead of saying, 'No, this is a serious situation,' she said, 'I know right,'" Drechsler said.

He also chastised the government prosecutors for meddling in a married couple's private affairs.

"The only two people that were there during the argument was Andrea and her husband," he said.

But prosecutor Suzanne Kontz said that one of the surveillance videos Drechsler mentioned clearly showed Andrea having trouble sitting down and standing up.

Kontz also said the doctor who examined Andrea only reported spending 2 minutes with her - versus the one hour and 10 minutes a nurse did. The nurse, Angela Jean, testified Monday that she reported that Andrea told Jean she was "pulled and thrown."

Kontz questioned the credibility of Andrea's testimony, noting that Andrea had stated that from the beginning she was worried about her husband's job, and that she was a benefactor of his pension.

"She has an absolute motive for the testimony she told you," Kontz said.

She also said Andrea tried too hard to explain her answers on the stand, and defended Policano's texting, noting that Drechsler did not read aloud texts right after the alleged incident where Policano recounted the attack, and how Policano texted her sister "I don't think you understand... It's pretty serious."

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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