Trooper in Trouble Now Fired

Mass. State Police Col. Alben has issued an administrative discharge to 48-year-old Sean Gately

Sean Gately, peering through an NECN car window, asked "You gonna follow me all day?"

Extending a hand, we try to introduce ourselves.

"I don't wanna shake your hand," the Woburn man said. He is understandably irritated, since NECN has been digging through his record for weeks looking for answers.

"Are you a good trooper?" NECN asked.

"Are you a good reporter?" he retorted.

Gately is a veteran Massachusetts State Police Sergeant on probation without pay after Chelmsford Police say he was driving drunk while off-duty when he ran a red light and totaled a local woman's car. But that's not all NECN found.

"Do you think you should be on the road, protecting people, with your record?" we asked.

"No comment," he said, walking away.

NECN recently obtained documents that show Gately flashed his badge to make sure investigators knew he was a ranking member of the Massachusetts State Police as he tried to get out of a different drunk driving charge, this time in New Hampshire.

"You know what I think?" Gately said as he opened the passenger door of his SUV to climb in. "I think I've got no comment. Are we done now?"

Gately may be done. We've just learned State Police Colonel Timothy Alben has issued an administrative discharge to the 48-year-old trooper. It is the first step in the firing process and Gately can appeal it. NECN pressed for more details, but a state police spokesperson would only say that "per the personnel exemption to the public records law, no further information about this action can be released."

An earlier statement told NECN that it was the Chelmsford DUI arrest that prompted their internal investigation, but they were looking at his entire record.

Perhaps they took a hard look at the February 2008 report from New Hampshire State Police. According to the documents, a New Hampshire trooper was called to the scene of a black Ford Explorer that had crashed into a snow bank on the on-ramp to 93S in New Hampton. In the report, the trooper detailed what he found: Gately behind the wheel, a 30-pack of Bud Light in the back, empties on the floor cup holder, door and outside the vehicle. According to the report, Gately had glassy, blood-shot eyes, smelled of alcohol, slurred his words and swayed noticeably. Gately claimed he'd had five beers, the report said.

"Any driving at that level is extremely dangerous," New Hampshire State Police Major David Parenteau said.

Parenteau says it's clear his trooper did everything by the book. The trooper brought Gately to nearby Tilton Police Department for processing, even though Gately repeatedly tried to get out of it.

According to the report, Gately asked if "we had to do this," and if the trooper could "cut him a break."

"He asked for us not to do this and that it was my interstate and it was my choice," the report said.

Unmoved, the trooper asked Gately to take a breathalyzer, which, according to the documents, Gately agreed, but when the trooper actually started the process, Gately said, "If it's going to be like this, I'm having chest pains."

"I would interpret that to mean, 'It's time to blow in the machine and now I don't feel well,'" said Parenteau.

Police warned Gately that if he went to the hospital, they would draw blood and they'd have his blood alcohol content on the record, but, according to the report, Gately "stated that he can't give blood because he is Muslim."

NECN does not know if Gately is in fact Muslim, but according to his marriage licenses, he was married the first time by a priest in a Catholic Church and a minister officiated his second marriage in a United Church of Christ.

"Obviously, if he's not Muslim, it's another attempted ploy," said Parenteau.

Whether or not it was a ploy, it worked. Doctors did not draw his blood because of his religious objections and discharged him from the hospital less than an hour later. Still, it was a sizeable delay -- all told four hours and Gately was sobering up.

"At some point you're not going to be in the same condition you were when you were stopped," Parenteau said.

In the end, documents show he blew a .15 into a Breathalyzer -- nearly twice the legal limit -- but, knowing the ins and outs of drunk driving laws, Gately refused to blow a second time. Parenteau says state law requires that a suspect blows twice into the machine to make sure the readings aren't skewed. Because he only blew once, the result was thrown out and couldn't be used as evidence. In the end, a state prosecutor let him plea to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

"It's ludicrous," said Massachusetts State Rep. Steven Howett. The Seekonk Republican was stunned to learn that Gately's license was suspended for six months for the New Hampshire reckless driving charge and that his license is currently suspended until September. Gately, a former Massachusetts District Commission police officer, has been a trooper since 1986 and made $125,000 last. Howett says Gately should not only be fired, but lose his pension.

"For him to be bringing down the reputation -- the fine reputation -- of the Massachusetts State Police is a shame," Howett said.

State Police say they are not the ones to decide whether or not Gately keeps his pension, since that's up to the state's Retirement Board. We reached out to Gately's union who, so far, has declined to speak on his behalf. 

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