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Ex-Mass. Chief Jailed for Theft of Guns, Drugs

Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
BYLINE: BRIAN LEE, Telegram & Gazette

Springfield, MA

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Former Holland Police Chief Kevin P. Gleason was sentenced to two years in prison yesterday after pleading guilty to charges he pocketed money from 16 town-bought guns and rifles he sold, many to police officers in other communities.

Mr. Gleason, 47, also admitted taking $2,190 from an evidence locker to which only he had access. The money had been seized in a drug arrest.

Also, Mr. Gleason admitted he received reimbursement of $655 for a conference he never attended.

Mr. Gleason pleaded guilty in Hampden Superior Court to larceny by scheme of more than $250 and two counts of larceny of more than $250.

Judge Peter A. Velis sentenced the former chief to two years in the House of Correction and three years' probation, a sentence sought by Assistant District Attorney James C. Orenstein. The former chief was ordered to pay $9,934 in restitution to cover a portion not recovered by investigators, Mr. Orenstein said.

Mr. Gleason's lawyer, William Kring, asked the judge to sentence Mr. Gleason to probation or house arrest.

Mr. Gleason will not begin his sentence until Sept. 28, after a hearing to discuss arrangements for treatment of a medical condition while he is behind bars.

He was chief of the Holland Police Department from September 2002 to

May, when he stepped down for what he said was a health problem. He had become acting chief in June 2002.

Mr. Gleason, during a protracted period, bought through town warrants 28 guns and rifles, according to the prosecutor. Mr. Gleason sold 16 of them. On two occasions the buyers paid in cash. Most of the weapons were recovered, but three were not.

The former chief canceled his plans to attend a September 2007 conference the town paid for him to attend in Connecticut, the prosecutor said.

In December, a Holland police officer made a narcotic arrest and seized $2,190. The chief soon afterward claimed to have submitted $2,180 of the seized drug money to the town treasurer, who confirmed that municipal office never received it. Mr. Gleason had the only key to the evidence locker, the prosecutor said.

Mr. Gleason, who had no previous criminal record, answered yes when Judge Velis asked, "Did you do what he said you did?"

The prosecutor said the court had seen thefts of larger sums of money, which may have resulted in probation. But Mr. Orenstein noted "the egregious breach of the public's trust," the illegal actions during a four- or five-year span and the three different ways he misappropriated town money.

Holland Selectmen James Wettlaufer, Earl Johnson and Christian Petersen appeared in court. Mr. Wettlaufer, the chairman, told the judge Mr. Gleason was "more dangerous" than the common criminal because he was "an insider." Mr. Wettlaufer said it would take years to gain back the public's trust.

Mr. Gleason had led a department of two full-time and five part-time officers.

Mr. Kring explained his client's actions.

He said the only training the high school-educated Mr. Gleason had relative to policing was at the academy, for which he paid $10,000 of his own money. Also, two families rely on him for financial support to survive. He is a divorced father of two children in college and has a 5-year-old daughter for whom he pays support.

Mr. Kring said Mr. Gleason openly cooperated.

"We're here today to waive indictment on a DA's complaint because he's tried to cooperate as fully as possible. There are no excuses; he accepts responsibility for what he's done," Mr. Kring said.

Before Mr. Gleason's resignation, he was hospitalized as a result of anxiety, tension and stress, Mr. Kring said. Since then he's received counseling and medication for psychological issues.

The lawyer said emergency treatment was sought for Mr. Gleason about a month ago at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, and he was suicidal. Mr. Kring did not describe Mr. Gleason's medication, but argued that Mr. Gleason would not be able to receive it in the Ludlow-based house of correction.

Judge Velis said he needed further insight about the medical issue from probation and the district attorney's office, and he deferred execution of the two-year sentence until Sept. 28.

Mr. Kring said Mr. Gleason would never be a police officer or in law enforcement again and was "an embarrassment to his family." Mr. Kring said Mr. Gleason suffered immensely, and should.

Before sentencing, the judge took a recess to read letters of support for the former chief. One writer said Mr. Gleason had saved his life; another involved a case of a runaway child, with Mr. Gleason successfully intervening.

The judge acknowledged Mr. Gleason's good deeds while in his old job, and said he didn't doubt Mr. Gleason is a good father. But the judge said he was compelled by the prosecutor's message about the breach of trust.

It was indicated arrangements were made for restitution to be made through the former chief's pension.

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