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Former Waltham police chief LaCroix granted his pension following assault convictions

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  October 24, 2013 07:05 PM

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Former Waltham police chief Thomas LaCroix, who was convicted this summer of twice assaulting his wife at their Maynard home last year, will receive his pension after Waltham Retirement Board members voted unanimously Thursday night to grant it.

“There are times in a person’s life when one mistake can cost that person everything,” wrote Michael Sacco, Waltham Retirement Board’s lawyer, in his recommendation to the board. “After much thought and deliberation, I conclude this is not one of those circumstances.”

LaCrroix's pension will be more than $80,000 a year.

State retirement law states that if a public employee’s convictions are found to relate to his or her position at all, the pension for that employee can be taken away.

But Sacco recommended that LaCroix keep his. Citing Durkin v. Boston Retirement Board, where a Boston police officer lost his pension after he shot another officer while drunk, Sacco supported his decision by noting that LaCroix was not convicted of using a dangerous weapon when he assaulted his wife.

“LaCroix was originally charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and had he been convicted of that crime, the recommended decision in this case likely would have been different,” Sacco wrote.

However, Sacco still chastised LaCroix's actions in his recommendation, noting "there is simply no excuse for one person to commit a battery upon another person.

"As the chief of the Police Department, LaCroix must set the example and tone for the entire Police Department," Sacco write. "His career as a police officer is over and rightly so -- as a society we cannot have individuals enforcing laws that they themselves violate."

Sacco's written recommendation is a public record and can be obtained at Waltham City Hall's retirement office.

The Waltham Retirement Board’s decision comes after a Concord District Court jury found LaCroix guilty on June 26 of assaulting his wife, Andrea, last year. LaCroix resigned from his post July 10, the same day Judge J. Elizabeth Cremens sentenced him to 18-months’ probation.

Retirement officials summonsed LaCroix to a hearing after he applied for his retirement benefits this summer. LaCroix opted to have his September hearing closed to the public.

“The LaCroixs are delighted that the Retirement Board granted Chief LaCroix his retirement,” said Nicholas Poser, LaCroix’s pension lawyer, after the Thursday hearing. “The LaCroixs are anxious to move on with their lives. This has been a searing experience, and now they have been gratified.”

LaCroix’s pension benefits will begin dating back to July 10, the date he resigned, officials said.

LaCroix, 50, worked for the Waltham Police Department for 26 years, and was appointed chief in 2007. Retirement officials said that city employees must have worked for 20 years, or 10 years if they are 50 years old or older, to qualify for pension benefits.

LaCroix’s 26 years of police service, coupled with his age, would result in an annual pension equivalent to about 52 percent of his average salary and longevity pay over the last three years.

Last year, LaCroix made $163,119 in salary and longevity, according to payroll records.

LaCroix had been on paid administrative leave for a little more than a year when the jury returned the guilty verdict in June. He was then taken off the city payroll, but continued on unpaid leave. At that point, he had collected about $200,000 in pay after his arrest on June 14, 2012, according to city payroll records.

Waltham officials do not have the right to appeal the Retirement Board’s decision in court, said Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy in an email Thursday.

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

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