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By Brad Petrishen Daily News Staff
SOUTHBOROUGH, Mass. —At least one town employee is facing disciplinary action after the Public Works Department was captured on police surveillance video earlier this month piling snow on top of a state vehicle parked at the police station, the Daily News reported.
“It appears that some good employees made a couple of bad decisions,” Town Administrator Mark Purple said of a Feb. 5 incident in which a state Department of Transportation truck was damaged.
The Daily News observed a truck almost completely covered in a mound of snow in the police station lot on Feb. 6, the day after a storm dumped about 8 inches of snow on the area.
At the time, Lt. Sean James said the DPW had plowed the lot and that police were looking into what happened. Multiple sources told The Daily News that DPW Director Karen Galligan and another DPW employee plowed snow against the truck.
MassDOT spokesman Michael Verseckes said the truck is owned by the state and driven by a Southborough man who parks it there in accordance with department regulations that prohibit him from taking it home.
Verseckes said the rear driver’s side of the truck was damaged by impact from either a plow or snow being piled up against the truck.
“We are working through the claims process to repair the truck and recover the cost of doing so,” he wrote in an email on Feb. 13.
Verseckes said Wednesday the damage to the truck is still being appraised.
James said Wednesday he had completed his investigation of the incident and determined that criminal charges are not warranted.
He said his investigation consisted of reviewing video of the plowing from cameras installed in the police station parking lot. He said he was not instructed to interview anyone from the Public Works department or to determine whether there were witnesses to what happened.
Police Chief Kenneth Paulhus, when asked by the Daily News for a copy of the police report and for access to the surveillance footage, said Wednesday he would release any public information after speaking with Purple about the status of the town’s investigation.
Purple on Tuesday confirmed he was conducting an investigation. He said he had “no idea” whether police also were investigating.
Purple said he could not say which employees were being investigated because of laws that protect their privacy.
“I have expressed our apologies (to the state), and told them that the matter would be addressed,” he said.
Tuesday evening, selectmen held a closed-door meeting to “discuss the discipline of an employee,” according to the agenda. Employee discipline is one of 10 exemptions to the state Open Meeting Law, and allows selectmen to go into executive session unless the employee being disciplined requests it be open to the public.
Public Works Director Karen Galligan was the only person to emerge from the closed-door session after speaking with selectmen for about 20 minutes. She declined to comment on what happened or to say whether she was personally involved in the parking lot plowing.
Selectmen spoke behind closed doors for another 15 minutes before adjourning. Purple said after the session that his investigation was complete.
In an email Wednesday, Purple said that discipline would be forthcoming, but declined to say what that would entail or how many people would be punished.
Selectmen Chairman Daniel Kolenda referred comment Wednesday to Purple.
The resident who drives the truck did not respond to a request for comment. Verseckes said he believes the state employee had parked the truck there for some time with the town’s knowledge. The truck will no longer be parked in that lot, he said.