Federal authorities arrested the former president of the Massachusetts State Police union Wednesday, alleging that he pocketed tens of thousands of dollars through embezzling cash and accepting kickback payments from a lobbyist since 2012.
Dana Pullman, 57, of Worcester, the former leader of the State Police Association of Massachusetts (or SPAM), and the lobbyist and longtime friend of Pullman, Anne Lynch, 68, of Hull, were arrested at their homes following a year-long investigation into the association.
Joseph Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston field office, told reporters that Pullman “wielded the union like a criminal enterprise, running it like an old-school mob boss” during the six years he spent at its helm.
“Today’s arrests unfortunately overshadow the majority of hardworking, honest state troopers who go to work every day with the best interests of our communities at heart,” he said at a press conference. “We believe both Pullman and Lynch lied, cheated, and tried to obstruct our investigation at the expense of those hardworking troopers and taxpayers.
“Their actions were, without a doubt, disgraceful, underhanded, and fueled by sheer greed.”
Prosecutors allege Pullman stole thousands from the union to pay for lavish meals, trips, gifts, and a new SUV. Meanwhile, Lynch allegedly provided kickback payments to Pullman as he pressured companies seeking to do business with the state into becoming clients of her lobbying firm.
Officials say Pullman also encouraged other members of the union’s executive board to submit false expense reports to cover money spent on personal meals and political donations.
Pullman, citing “personal reasons,” resigned from his post last September, two months after officials began their probe.
Both Pullman and Lynch were charged with wire fraud, honest services wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and honest services wire fraud, and obstruction of justice, according to Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling’s office.
The arrests are the latest to rock the rank and file of the state police, an agency that’s been embroiled in scandal in recent years over the alleged theft of overtime pay by dozens of department members.
Representing over 1,500 state police troopers and sergeants, SPAM’s primary source of income is through membership dues.
“Entrusted with representing the interests of Massachusetts State Police troopers and sergeants, Pullman, with Lynch’s help, betrayed that trust to line his own pockets with association funds. … Pullman essentially took money from the pocket of fellow state police,” Lelling said at the conference.
Both Pullman and Lynch appeared in U.S. District Court in Boston Wednesday afternoon and were released by Chief Magistrate Judge Jennifer C. Boal on $25,000 each, The Boston Globe reports.
They were ordered to surrender their passports and to have no contact with each other or with any witnesses in the case.
Here’s what we know about the investigation:
What authorities say happened
The federal investigation initially kicked off with the FBI looking into whether Pullman and other union executives were involved in a straw donor scheme, essentially reimbursing members for making political donations, according to Bonavolonta.
But three months into their probe, agents expanded the scope “into a wide-ranging review of other allegations and malfeasance,” Bonavolonta said.
“After conducting dozens of interviews and reviewing hundreds of documents, we uncovered evidence of what the FBI believes is a rigged system robbing companies (seeking) to do business with the Commonwealth of their right at a level playing field,” he said.
A criminal complaint filed in federal court alleges both Pullman and Lynch sought to defraud private companies looking to win over state contracts related to law enforcement matters twice — once in 2014 and again the following year.
Officials said representatives of the out-of-state companies met with Pullman, where he advised each one to hire Lynch’s lobbying firm, which was on retainer with SPAM and received thousands of dollars every month in fees for its work with the union.
“In his role as association president, he pressured the companies to hire Lynch describing her as ‘a true expert’ in the state of Massachusetts’s procurement process,” Lelling said. “Despite already having lobbying firms on retainer, these companies then hired and paid Lynch’s firm, and, in return, Lynch allegedly paid two, $5,000 kickbacks to Pullman, which he then concealed from fellow association members.”
The firm brought in $20,000 and $138,000 from the two companies, respectively, court records show.
Prosecutors also allege in 2014, Pullman and Lynch kept secret the personal benefits they received as SPAM reached a $22 million settlement over a grievance with state police and the Commonwealth regarding compensation troopers were owed resulting from lost time off.
Pullman made certain that Lynch’s lobbying firm would receive $350,000 from the state for its work with the union, court records show.
The union’s treasurer complained to Pullman that the group was “getting screwed” when Pullman told the treasurer to write a $250,000 check to the firm, even after the union had already paid it $100,000.
Pullman then “pounded the table and yelled, ‘Stop breaking my f****** balls and give me the check!,'” according to court records.
After the check went to the firm, Lynch in return allegedly wrote a $20,000 check to Pullman’s spouse. The payment was logged as a “consulting fee” in the lobbying firm’s records, officials said.
Last year, the union treasurer was unable to find expense reimbursement records for the years 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017 after telling Pullman the records may be requested under an anticipated grand jury subpoena.
Authorities also allege Lynch later told an attorney for SPAM to delay responding to the subpoena once it was issued in September.
During an interview with investigators, Lynch allegedly denied that she or her firm made any payments to Pullman, records show.
What Pullman allegedly bought with embezzled money
Additionally, investigators believe Pullman collected expense reimbursements from SPAM without supporting receipts, circumvented the union’s executive board, and used the association’s money “like his own personal piggy bank.”
Court documents show Pullman allegedly used SPAM’s debit card between January 2014 and August 2018. Officials allege the expenses included:
- $9,300 in flowers and gift baskets for family and friends, with over $4,400 of that amount spent on a person Pullman was romantically involved with, who was unnamed in the court file.
- $8,000 in meals with his family and the unnamed person. In particular, a lunch at a New York City restaurant with that person in October 2016 ran up a bill of $468 and included $150 worth of caviar, records show.
- Approximately $3,603 for a 2017 “personal getaway” with the individual in Miami, Florida.
- $2,000 worth of iTunes charges
In 2016, Pullman allegedly received over $40,000 from the union in reimbursement checks, although he had submitted expense sheets for less than $9,000 of the expenses, according to authorities.
In 2017, Pullman allegedly went behind the back of the union’s executive board when he signed a $10,000 check to a Quincy nonprofit as a charitable donation. The money included the purchase of a 10-person table and dinner at the organization’s annual gala in Boston that he attended with the unnamed person, court documents indicate.
Records show Pullman and the union’s treasurer leased a 2017 Chevrolet Suburban “valued at approximately $75,760 for Pullman by issuing two checks from SPAM’s account totaling $21,371 as a down payment, without the approval or knowledge of the (executive board).”
What we know about Pullman and Lynch
Pullman joined the state police as a trooper in 1987.
Before he became president of SPAM in 2012, he served as the union’s treasurer, starting in 2008.
He resigned the union’s chief role on Sept. 28 and later retired from the state police.
Pullman “will strongly and vigorously deny today’s allegations,” Martin G. Weinberg, Pullman’s attorney, said Wednesday, according to the Globe. “The centerpiece of the government’s case is a series of legitimate checks that in no way constitutes a kickback or a bribe. Dana Pullman was a highly successful president of the Massachusetts State Police union for six years and never acted in a manner that compromised his loyalty to his union.”
Lynch founded the lobbying firm, Lynch Associates, in 2001 and remained as its principal owner until approximately October 2016, according to authorities.
“Lynch was a long-time friend of Pullman and often coordinated fundraisers for political candidates supportive of the (state police) for SPAM,” court records say.
Lynch sold the business to two of her family members in 2016, but worked as a paid consultant for the firm, including working for SPAM, authorities said.
“Anne Lynch is no longer affiliated with Lynch Associates and has had no ownership interest in the firm since 2016,” Greg D’Agostino, a partner at Lynch Associates, said in a statement to the Globe. “She performed consulting services for a limited number of clients until 2018. At Lynch Associates, we take pride in our integrity and dedication to our clients. We will not be commenting any further on this matter.”
Lynch’s lawyer declined to comment, the newspaper reports.
What state police and SPAM officials are saying
State Police Sgt. Mark Lynch, the current SPAM president, who is not related to Anne Lynch, told the Globe in a statement that the union is “appalled an angered” by the allegations:
“The current leadership of the State Police Association of Massachusetts fully cooperated with this investigation.
“In the first 60 days after I took office, I replaced all of the professional services providers, including our lobbyist. Based upon the new team’s recommendations, we instituted accounting, auditing and oversight procedures to ensure the integrity of all of our systems.
“As an organization, we are appalled and angered, by the nature and extent of these allegations. Our current members are honest, hardworking, and dedicated to public service.”
In a statement, state police said the alleged conduct “represents serious offenses and violates the ideals and values of the Massachusetts State Police”:
“(State Police Supervisor Col. Kerry) Gilpin and her command staff demand and expect that department members follow the law and department policy in all aspects of their professional and personal lives, including union activities.
“The conduct as alleged in the criminal complaint represents serious offenses and violates the ideals and values of the Massachusetts State Police. The department has cooperated and will continue to cooperate with the United States Attorney’s Office and continues to fulfill its mission through the countless troopers who protect our state with dedication, courage, and integrity every day.”
Investigators said the investigation will continue and additional charges are possible.
“I think events like the overtime scandal, events like this … I think that is bad for morale,” Lelling said. “My hope is that investigations like this will go quickly, will wrap up relatively quickly after we’ve done what we need to do because that organization needs to turn a corner and rebuild its morale within and rebuild its efficacy.”