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More shakeups in the Newton Police Department: Two top officers leave

Posted by Deidre Fernandes  June 13, 2013 04:54 PM

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Two top lieutenants in the Newton Police Department, who were part of the controversial investigation into a former chief’s secretary, cleaned out their offices and unexpectedly left this week.

The departures of the Lieutenant Edward Aucoin, the head of the department’s internal affairs office, and Lieutenant Hugh Downing, the chief executive officer, are among the latest shakeups in the Newton Police Department.

Downing could not be reached for comment. A woman who answered the phone at Aucoin’s house said he wasn’t available for comment.

Newton Police Chief Howard Mintz said he came in Wednesday to find letters from the two lieutenants stating that they will be using accrued time off and their offices empty.

The two officers have left messages on their department voicemails referring inquiries to other members of the department.

Mintz said he wasn’t expecting their departures, “not the way it unfolded.”

Downing and Aucoin continue to be employed by the city and haven’t officially resigned or retired, Mintz said.

The city hasn’t yet calculated how much time off they’ve accrued and are able to use, but it could take them well into the summer, Mintz said.

“They’re both honorable guys,” Mintz said. “They did what they had to do.”

Mintz, who officially became chief last month after former chief Matthew Cummings was fired, is conducting a 40-day review of the department and recommending changes.

Among the changes, that Mintz said he was considering was to move Aucoin and Downing out of the chief’s office and the police executive department and into the patrol officer’s pay structure.

It is unclear whether they would have earned less money.

Aucoin had been with the department for 33 years and earned $130,163 last year. Downing had almost 30 years of service and earned $118,148 last year.

Both men were part of the investigation into the former chief’s secretary Jeanne Sweeney Mooney and testified against her during her trial for larceny of over $250. She was accused of taking an envelope containing cash that the department collected through various police permit fees.

A jury acquitted Mooney last month. Mooney has filed a federal complaint against the city, contending that the mayor and several Police Department employees violated her privacy rights and illegally retaliated against her for speaking out.

Thomas Drechsler, Mooney’s lawyer in the criminal case, said he is not surprised by the departures of Aucoin and Downing.

“I can only tell you that during the course of the trial I was very critical of the way the investigation was handled,” Drechsler said.

Aucoin’s and Downing’s part in the Mooney case was not “directly related” to his plan to move them, Mintz said.

“I’ve been supportive of both individuals,” Mintz said. “There is a time for changes to be made.”

Mintz said he plans to complete his review of the department in early July. He will hire replacements for both positions, Mintz said.

Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes@globe.com.

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