By Seth Daniel
It was a case of the boys behaving badly, and at a wake to boot.
City Councillor-at-Large John Correggio and Department of Public Works (DPW) Superintendent Don Goodwin clashed in a minor altercation last Thursday evening at the wake of former City Councillor Bill Flynn’s wife – with both men having very different versions of the events.
Both have filed police reports with the Revere Police, and the matter will be taken up by a clerk magistrate at Chelsea District Court on June 25.
Beyond the facts of the case, the matter has garnered considerable media attention from Boston and has served to give the city another black eye. On Monday, many within city government reacted very negatively to the incident, saying it showed a lack of professionalism on the part of both men, and that it reflected badly on all city employees.
“It’s complete silliness as far as I’m concerned,” said Mayor Tom Ambrosino. “It distracts us from the serious business we have before us right now.”
Goodwin and Correggio have no love lost between them. For the past couple of years, they have been at odds with one another, mostly due to the fact that Correggio supported an audit of the DPW brought by Councillor George Rotondo. A few other smaller conflicts have resulted in the two frequently disagreeing with one another animatedly at City Council meetings.
However, Thursday’s events seemed to take the matter a little further, depending on which side of the fence one sits.
“Both men made comments and were they the best comments to make? Absolutely not, on both sides,” said Boston Attorney Peter Marano, who represents Correggio. “But when you cross the line and put your hands on someone, that’s a whole new level…As much as John can be John, I can’t fathom putting your hands on him. To be able to act with impunity is how it goes around here…There’s always been contentious City Council meetings, but now we’re crossing the line, and people are getting physical.”
Goodwin told the Journal that he preferred not to comment on the matter at the moment, out of respect to the Flynn family.
The facts of the case go something like this.
For Correggio, a police report and Attorney Marano said Correggio was attending the wake at Buonfiglio’s Funeral Home and walked out into the foyer. Goodwin was standing in the foyer and allegedly told Correggio, “I hope you enjoy your last six months on the council,” the report read, indicating that Correggio wouldn’t be re-elected.
Correggio then turned to Funeral Director Paul Buonfiglio and asked, “Do you have a pine box big enough to fit him?” The comment was a jab at Goodwin’s weight.
At that point, Goodwin allegedly asked Correggio to go outside and put his hands on Correggio’s neck, allegedly squeezing the back of his neck. As they walked, Correggio told police that he thought Goodwin was going to push him through the front glass doors, so he pulled away from him.
Allegedly, two witnesses in the case, Buonfiglio, and former School Committeeman Peter Martino, observed the events and are part of the ongoing investigation.
Meanwhile, Goodwin also filed a police report approximately two hours after Correggio last Thursday night.
Goodwin said that as Correggio encountered him at the wake, he said, “Here comes the cancer.”
The two began exchanging insults until Correggio allegedly got in Goodwin’s face and began poking him in the stomach, allegedly saying to Buonfiglio, “Hey, Paul, I hope you have a casket big enough for Donnie because he’s dead; and then when it’s time for the collation, I’m going to come and eat all your food,” read the report.
Goodwin said he put his hands on the back of Correggio’s neck and suggested they go outside to talk about the matter, doing so while walking towards the door.
Correggio allegedly pulled away and went out the door, saying that he wasn’t afraid of Goodwin and was going to get him.
Goodwin’s report was taken by Officer Joseph Singer and reviewed by Goodwin’s brother, Lt. John Goodwin.
Meanwhile, Correggio and his attorney refused to file their report at the Revere Police Station due to the fact that Goodwin’s brother, John, was the shift commander that evening. Marano said they met two Revere detectives on Revere Beach, in hopes of getting a report and getting felony charges filed against Don Goodwin that would include assault and battery on an elderly person over the age of 60. Correggio is 63.
“We believe he [John Goodwin] sent everyone at the station out and was sitting at the front desk waiting for John to come make a report,” said Marano. “That’s odd to me.”
Marano added he is surprised that there even is a report, because, he said, detectives weren’t too eager to take down their report or file charges. Marano indicated they went to the State Police Barracks and filed a report, which was confirmed by a State Police spokesman.
“If someone walked into the police station and said their husband just assaulted them, the Revere Police would be at the house and arresting someone,” said Marano. “Donnie Goodwin didn’t get arrested and the Revere Police didn’t want to take a report…Now I hear there’s a police report, and that’s funny, because we didn’t make one with them. That report happened when Chief [Terence] Reardon had a conversation with the detectives later that night and told them they should write up a report…They just make up the rules as they go.”
Police officials totally disputed Marano’s assertions that they didn’t take the report, saying they were close to the situation the entire time.
“I must strongly disagree,” said Capt. Michael Murphy. “I know that a detective sergeant agreed to meet with Mr. Correggio and his lawyer at a neutral location…There did seem to be some disagreement as to what would take place immediately following the taking of the report. The detective sergeant explained to Mr. Correggio and his attorney that following the report, he would conduct an investigation and then, if appropriate, present his finding to a magistrate. It was reported to me that Mr. Correggio’s attorney was not satisfied with that disposition and told the detective sergeant that he would take his complaint to the State Police.”
Murphy said the detectives conferred with him both before and after the meeting, and that he advised them to file a report – which they did immediately.
Meanwhile, Mayor Tom Ambrosino said he would take no disciplinary action against Goodwin – who is a city employee – unless or until there is evidence from the courts that would require discipline.
“Based on my discussions with the chief and the two witnesses, I have no evidentiary basis for taking action against the DPW superintendent,” he said. “The two witnesses seem to suggest it was completely blown out of proportion. I was not there, though, and have no idea if that’s true. Sometimes, facts get developed in court hearings.”
Marano seemed to think that would be the case.
“It’s the same old police department, whether it’s on Pleasant Street or the Parkway,” he said. “My question is to Mayor Ambrosino, who is running this city, the Goodwins or you? Unfortunately, like a lot of stuff in Revere, things die a slow death or they go away. I don’t see this going away.”