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Charges against Boston officer disappear after private court hearing

Boston police say Sergeant Detective William J. Woodley (left), who resigned last year, fraudulently collected nearly $13,000 in overtime pay between June and October 2016. The department also says Lieutenant Robert A. Dwan (right) fraudulently collected nearly $6,800 in overtime pay between March and August 2015. –Boston Police Department

A long list of state troopers have been publicly arraigned over the past year on charges they stole thousands of dollars in overtime. Under the glare of media attention, the officers face potential prison sentences and the loss of their pensions, and they have become powerful symbols of public corruption.

But a Boston police officer facing similar felony accusations three years ago saw his charges quietly erased in a secret clerk magistrate hearing in Boston Municipal Court, the Globe has learned. And a second Boston police officer saw his overtime theft charge nearly disappear in another confidential court hearing in Roxbury Municipal Court this year. Because of the confidential nature of the process, there is no way to know how many other officers avoided charges at similar private hearings across the state.

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SPOTLIGHT TEAM: Inside Massachusetts’ secret courts