HAVERHILL -- Charles Noyes isn't the first retired state trooper involved in an automobile accident to get special consideration from Haverhill police.
One of the three Haverhill officers suspended without pay for his role in the Noyes case is facing another unpaid suspension and possible termination for failing to properly investigate a 2005 hit-and-run automobile accident involving another retired high-ranking state trooper.
A new police investigation has found that Sgt. Harry Miller conducted a suspect investigation and violated several department rules in his handling of a February 2005 accident in which an ex-trooper named Paul Regan crashed his white Mercury into another vehicle at the intersection of Route 110 and Forest Street and then fled the scene.
Regan, who lives in Rowley, retired in 2003 as a lieutenant colonel with a $110,472-a-year pension. He could not be reached for comment.
The new investigation by Haverhill Lieutenant Anthony Haugh found that Miller changed the nature of Regan's 2005 accident on police paperwork from a hit-and-run to a "regular" motor vehicle accident. The report says Miller declined to charge Regan with a crime after meeting with an unidentified state trooper from the Newbury barracks less than one hour after the accident. The meeting took place in a Haverhill shopping mall, according to Haugh's report.
Police said Miller told them he could not recall the name of the trooper who came to meet him and that he did not write it down anywhere or document the meeting in any way.
"Officer Harry Miller's report gives absolutely no justification for the use of such discretion for not issuing Mr. Paul Regan a citation for leaving the scene of an accident because it was so poorly written," the internal investigative report said. "Officer Miller's scant report leaves more questions than answers, and contains little or no pertinent information with regards to operator's statements or any information received from the sergeant of the state police with whom he met or even the sergeant's name for that matter."
David Procopio, a state police spokesman, said the agency is looking into the allegations in the Haverhill police report and declined further comment.
Miller, who was a patrolman in 2005, did not return a phone message left for him at the police station seeking comment for this story.
Haugh's report said police were unable to determine whether Miller contacted Regan about the accident. In a formal interview with Haugh at the police station last month, Miller told investigators he could not recall ever meeting or even speaking to Regan about the accident, according to the report.
"While the officer cannot recall speaking to Mr. Regan, it is apparent that no follow-up was conducted by Officer Miller to confirm that Paul Regan was in fact the actual operator of the vehicle involved in the accident or why Mr. Regan contacted an agency he was no longer employed by, as Paul Regan retired from the Massachusetts State Police on 2003," Haugh's report said.
Haverhill police learned about the Regan accident and how it was handled by Miller during its investigation of how the department handled the Noyes case. Miller was the ranking Haverhill officer at the scene of the March 30 Noyes accident.
The Noyes investigation concluded that the former state police deputy superintendent was given special treatment by West Newbury and Haverhill police officers due to his previous position. The probe found that officers declined to arrest Noyes or charge him with drunk driving even though they had enough evidence and that reports by officers were so poorly written that prosecutors could not charge Noyes with drunk driving.
Investigators found that officers who were directly involved in the Noyes incident filed incomplete or inaccurate reports that, among other problems, failed to mention that all the officers on the scene and ambulance personnel believed Noyes was intoxicated. Noyes' lawyer pointed to those reports in suggesting there was no evidence that his client had been drinking alcohol prior to crashing his Cadillac Escalade in West Newbury and then fleeing the scene, with his airbags deployed, until his mangled vehicle came to a stop in Haverhill. Noyes eventually was sentenced to six months of unsupervised probation after admitting there were sufficient facts to find him guilty of negligent driving and leaving the scene of an accident that caused property damage.
Noyes, who lives in Haverhill, retired in 2006 as deputy superintendent with a $116,659 pension. He is currently director of Public Safety at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston.
Miller, Lt. William Leeman and patrolman Christopher Pagliuca have been suspended for five days by Haverhill police Chief Alan DeNaro for their roles in the Noyes case. Miller and Leeman have appealed additional punishment recommended by DeNaro to Mayor James Fiorentini. A civil service hearing on the appeals is expected to be held this month. The maximum punishment the police chief can impose is a five-day suspension.
Haverhill's investigation of the Regan case says Miller responded at 8:15 p.m. on Feb. 2, 2005, to a call for a hit-and-run accident with property damage at the intersection of River and Forest streets.
According to police reports, a witness followed Regan as he fled from the scene and eventually relayed his license plate number to police. Another witness told police he was "stunned" to see Regan's vehicle drive away from the accident before police arrived. When they were contacted by Haugh for his new investigation, both those witnesses told Haugh that police never contacted them for follow-up interviews.
The driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident told Haugh that she was struck from behind by Regan's vehicle and that Regan "took off" after hitting her, the report said.
The victim also told Haugh that she remembers being told by Regan's insurance company that Regan told its claims agents that he was taking cough syrup at the time of the accident, according to Haugh's report.
In a May 7 interview with police, Miller told investigators he was dispatched about an hour after the 2005 accident to meet a state trooper in the Westgate Plaza regarding the accident he was investigating.
"Sergeant Miller stated that he met with a sergeant from the state police barracks who wanted to relay that one of his troopers (Paul Regan) called the barracks to report that he was involved in an accident in Haverhill; and to call Haverhill (police) and let them know his information, and he did not stop because he was feeling ill," Haugh's report said. "According to Sergeant Miller, that is when he learned that Paul Regan was a state trooper."
Miller told police he decided not charge Regan with leaving the scene of an accident after speaking with the state trooper.
According to Haugh's report, Miller decided not to charge Regan, "because Mr. Regan contacted the state police barracks to, in turn contact the Haverhill Police Department on his behalf, and because a sergeant from the state police contacted him, making Paul Regan known to us, coupled with finding the troopers and the information to be credible at the time.
Miller told investigators, "I used my discretion not to charge Mr. Regan with leaving the scene. I thought it was a reasonable explanation." Haugh's report said.
Haugh's report stresses that Regan was no longer a state trooper at the time of the accident. The report also says Miller decided on his own to switch the call from a hit-and-run to "a regular accident."
"Because the sergeant came to me face to face and gave me an explanation, that's why I did not charge Mr. Regan," Miller told investigators.
Copyright 2012 - The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.