Former police chief gets 2-year sentence

The Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts)
BYLINE: BUFFY SPENCER, STAFF

Springfield, MA

The restitution will come from the ex-chief's retirement funds.
SPRINGFIELD - Former Holland Police Chief Kevin P. Gleason must begin serving a two-year sentence to the Hampden County Correctional Center in Ludlow on Sept. 28.

The ex-chief, who cited medical reasons when he resigned in May, admitted on Monday in Hampden Superior Court that he had stolen cash from his department's evidence locker and pocketed profits he made from the sale of 16 firearms that had been purchased with town funds.

Calling Gleason's larcenies egregious and shameful, Judge Peter A. Velis sentenced Gleason to the two years in jail followed by three years of probation. Gleason will also be required to make close to $10,000 in restitution to the town, money which lawyers revealed will come from his retirement funds.

The guilty pleas and sentencing came during a hearing attended by Holland's three selectmen, including Chairman James E. Wettlaufer, who told the judge, "Mr. Gleason is not a common criminal in the usual context of the phrase. He is more dangerous than that because he's an insider."

The selectman said Gleason had been "trusted by the citizens of Holland who provided him with the highest salary of any employee in our town." Gleason was paid $56,542 to lead the five-member department.

Gleason pleaded guilty to a charge of larceny over $250 by scheme and two counts of larceny over $250.

The charge of larceny by scheme involved Gleason's purchase of 16 firearms over four years with town funds. He then sold those weapons to licensed dealers and individuals and pocketed the money from the sales, Assistant District Attorney James C. Orenstein said. Purchasers thought Gleason owned the guns, the prosecutor said.

The other charges involved the larceny of $650, money which the town had paid for Gleason to attend a conference in Saybrook, Conn., according to Orenstein. Gleason canceled his attendance and then had the money refunded to him, rather than the town, Orenstein said.

Gleason also admitted stealing $2,190 from the police evidence locker. The cash had been seized by a police officer in a drug arrest, and only the chief had the key to the locker, Orenstein said.

Gleason pleaded guilty after agreeing to give up his right for evidence in his case to be presented to a grand jury for possible indictment. He was charged instead in a district attorney's complaint, which allowed for a speedy processing of his case.

Gleason agreed to pay a total of $9,934 in restitution for all three crimes. The funds are to be in the town coffers soon as an arrangement has been made for early release of some of Gleason's retirement funds, according to the lawyers in the case.
His lawyer, William Kring, asked the judge not to send Gleason to jail. Kring suggested Gleason should be given just probation, or, at most, house arrest. The defense presented four letters of support from people whom Gleason had helped.

Velis, however, said that as a police chief Gleason would have been cognizant of the consequences "while he was committing these acts." In determining the sentence, the judge said he took into consideration the fact that the crimes had occurred over a period of time and did not involve a single, isolated incident.

"It defies my credulity to see how someone could be an exemplary police officer yet act so ignominiously, so shamefully, as a chief of police," Velis said.

Orenstein said recommending jail time for a former police chief was an unpleasant task. "There were repeated violations of his oath to uphold the law," the prosecutor said.

"There are no excuses; he accepts responsibility for what he's done," Kring said of Gleason.

The defense lawyer said Gleason is "suffering immensely" from what he has done, and the embarrassment it has caused his family. The divorced father of two boys in college and a 5-year-old daughter, Gleason suffered anxiety that caused physical symptoms which resulted in two hospitalizations around the time of his resignation in May, according to Kring.

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