Environmental Police Boss Fired For Spying on Workers

Credit: Massachusetts Environmental Police/Facebook

BOSTON, MA (State House News Service) -- The head of the Massachusetts Environmental Police was fired on Friday, about two weeks after he was suspended without pay, after an internal investigation found he undermined the agency by engaging in "covert" surveillance of employees. 

The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) legal office found Col. James McGinn had installed cameras at the Westborough office of the Environmental Police without notice to EEA leadership or employees. 

The camera's were installed "based on suspicions that employees were improperly reporting work hours." The report said he used public funds for the surveillance, acting outside state buying procedures. The cameras have been removed and will be re-purposed to provide security, according to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, which now has custody of the recorded footage. 

"The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs will begin a review of internal controls and policies in an effort to restore accountability and public trust in the Massachusetts Environmental Police. The unauthorized contract for surveillance has been terminated, and a formal investigation into alleged timesheet irregularities has been opened," EEA spokesman Peter Lorenz said in a statement. 

EEA officials also referred to the State Ethics Commission a 2015 matter involving McGinn, a retired major and a pair of citations for unlawful operation of unregistered off-highway vehicles. Then-Major William Bilotta instructed a sergeant to void citations issued to two underage operators, according to the report, which said one operator's parent had been a friend and former neighbor of McGinn. 

The investigation found "a reasonable basis to conclude that Colonel McGinn influenced the disposition of the citations in a manner that benefited a personal acquaintance." 

"Even apart from this conclusion, there is, at minimum, a strong appearance of a conflict of interest that warranted a more conservative approach to processing these citations," the report said. 

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