The high-ranking Stoneham police officer with a 20-year history of evictions and unpaid judgments is stepping down from the police department.
According to an email obtained by the NBC10 Boston Investigators, Robert Kennedy gave the town's police chief notice of his retirement, with his final day of employment as Feb. 23.
Kennedy made the decision shortly after town leaders placed him on administrative leave amid an internal investigation.
An NBC10 Boston investigation on Feb. 2 detailed how Kennedy and his girlfriend racked up more than $50,000 of unpaid rent, while being evicted from apartment complexes in Stoneham and Reading.
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Over that three-year period, payroll records show Kennedy made more than a half-million as a police officer.
Housing court records revealed the pattern stretched back two decades.
And according to Peter and Aarti Goldstein, the police officer's behavior has still not changed.
"He has not paid anything," Peter Goldstein said. "Not a deposit. Not the first month. Nothing."
The couple is renting their Stoneham apartment to Kennedy and his girlfriend and recalled how they were excited to have a high-ranking cop with a steady six-figure income as a tenant.
However, after signing the lease with a move-in date of mid-November, the Goldsteins said the security deposit and first month’s rent checks both bounced.
Emails they shared with NBC10 Boston show Kennedy's repeated promises over the next few weeks to produce new checks and get caught up on payments. Nothing changed.
"It does put a lot of financial burden on us because we are still paying the mortgage on the rental unit," Aarti Goldstein said. "It's not just financially, but also mentally exhausting."
On his rental application, Kennedy did not answer the question about whether he had been previously evicted.
His credit report also came back squeaky clean. However, the couple has since learned they got a report for one of Kennedy's family members with the same first and last name, but different middle initial.
"The person who rented from me and the person whose credit report I read are not the same person," Peter Goldstein said.
After seeing the NBC10 Boston investigation, Goldstein contacted the background check company to find out why the multiple evictions and unpaid judgments weren't flagged. That's when he learned the Social Security number Kennedy provided on his rental application was different than the number he provided to the credit check company.
"He targeted us as small landlords," Aarti Goldstein said. "He tricked us into signing this lease with him when there was never any intention to pay us."
Kennedy did not respond to an NBC10 Boston inquiry on Monday about his failure to pay any rent at his current apartment or his decision to retire.
Todd McGhee, a law enforcement analyst and retired Massachusetts State Police trooper, said the pattern of behavior documented by NBC10 Boston would have made it impossible for Kennedy to continue his job of investigating crimes and testifying in court.
In audio of Kennedy's housing court testimony obtained by NBC10 Boston, the veteran officer told a judge he was pursuing taxpayer-funded rental assistance meant for people who make a fraction of his salary.
"All of that information and evidence is going to be in question," McGhee said. "Credible testimony is everything. So if that's been compromised out on the street, how could a judge or jury really examine your testimony as one of credibility?"
McGhee also expressed surprise the police department did not launch an internal investigation sooner.
The NBC10 Boston Investigators learned the town received a subpoena for Kennedy's payroll records tied to an eviction case last summer.
And multiple sources told us online video of Kennedy making his case to a housing court judge about a pending rental assistance application circulated around the police department.
"We are overwhelmed right now, your honor," Kennedy responded when the judge asked him in the video if he was indigent. "In one way, do I make money? Yes, I do sir. In another way, I can't pay for everything on my plate right now."
John Clifford, an attorney representing Stoneham, said town leaders immediately launched an internal investigation when it learned of the "troubling" allegations from the NBC10 Boston report.
Clifford acknowledged the subpoena for payroll records received last year, but said they aren't unusual and usually involved private civil matters like divorce or child support.
"Unless there is a clear indication that legal matters impact the employee's ability to perform his or her job, the town would not normally undertake an investigation," Clifford said. "The subpoena alone would not trigger an investigation."
Even though Kennedy is retiring from the police department and can no longer be disciplined, Clifford said the town will still produce an investigative report that will address any misconduct that was substantiated.
"The allegations involving nonpayment of rent to various landlords and the potential improper payment of rental assistance from the Commonwealth RAFT program are being referred to the Middlesex District Attorney and the Attorney General," Clifford said. "The town will fully cooperate with any investigation or criminal prosecution undertaken by those agencies."
The Goldsteins have now hired an attorney and are moving forward with eviction proceedings in housing court. They also visited the Stoneham Police Department and filed a report.
Skeptical about whether they will ever recoup the lost money, the couple wonders why taxpayers should have to fund Kennedy's pension when he owes thousands of dollars to so many people.
"I feel like I've been duped by a confidence man," Peter Goldstein said. "How many landlords have to be robbed before someone puts a stop to this?"
Ryan Kath can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.
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