Former Director of the Merit Rating Board, Thomas Bowes. (Karyn Regal/WBZ NewsRadio)
BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Another official at the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles is out in the wake of the New Hampshire crash that killed seven motorcyclists.
Thomas Bowes, director of the registry's Merit Rating Board, was fired Tuesday as a result of a vote by that board. Bowes is also a Braintree town council member and candidate for mayor of that town.
An investigation into lapses at the registry uncovered thousands of out-of-state traffic violations that were knowingly ignored—including violations that should have kept Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, who allegedly caused the June 21 Randolph, New Hampshire crash, off the road.
Bowes' department was tasked with going through the violations after the Driver Control Unit passed them off. At a July 30 hearing, Bowes told a panel of government officials that there was no additional staff allocated to his department for going through the three-year backlog of records as they continued to pile up, so they decided to focus on in-state violations.
His firing follows former Registrar Erin Deveney's resignation on June 25.
Bowes left the Merit Rating Board meeting without comment, but his attorney, Leonard Kesten, spoke to the media.
"It's unfortunate that what they've decided to do is look for scapegoats as opposed to looking forward," Kesten said. "There are multiple failures which took years to happen."
Kesten said Bowes accepts responsibility for his role in the scandal, and always has—but he believes it was the registry as a whole that "failed the people of Massachusetts."
"You could select 22 people, 50 people that weren't doing their jobs for years," Kesten said. "There were thousands of these notifications that they stuck in a storage closet ... this is an incredible tragedy, it never should have happened."
When Acting Registrar Jamey Tesler was asked if Bowes was a scapegoat, he said the agency was focused on improving things for the future, and decided Bowes was not the right person to make those improvements.
Tesler will soon appoint an interim director for the Merit rating board, and that interim director will serve for up to two months.
WBZ NewsRadio's Carl Stevens (@carlwbz) reports