Two police officers that were suspended – one that was facing federal charges from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – were able to collect unemployment from the City during their suspensions last year, according to City records.
The Journal has obtained records that indicate former Officer Todd Randall – who plead guilty last year to lying to an FBI agent – and current Officer Michael Mullen collected unemployment payments on the taxpayer dime while facing punishment for their misdeeds.
So far, the City has not been able to recover those benefits paid out, but City officials indicated that they are fighting to recover the funds.
“I understand we’re in the process of trying to recover the unemployment funds expended on Officers Mullen and Randall,” said City Solicitor Paul Capizzi. “At the time they filed we were required to pay it, despite our reservations. The process requires the city initially pay the claim, after which the city can revoke and/or collect reimbursement.”
However, Revere Director of Finance George Anzuoni said that it all comes down to a state decision, and some times that decision doesn’t go the City’s way. Other times, the claimants can’t pay even if the decision does go the City’s way.
“It happens routinely, but we have a company that goes after them,” said Anzuoni. “The [state unemployment board] makes the decisions and whatever they say we have to abide by. I have gone up a couple times in the past and got them overturned…It’s like they’re getting a double benefit. If they were released [or disciplined], they obviously did something improper. If you did something improper and got let go, you shouldn’t benefit.”
The FBI arrested Randall at his home in April 2011, and while they indicated there were more serious charges they could have pursued, they only charged him with lying to an FBI agent. He was caught on video and audio taking a cash bribe in order to fix a case in Chelsea District Court.
He lied to investigators about that incident initially, but later fessed up to it when pleading guilty in Boston’s Federal Court last September.
Randall was on unpaid leave after being arrested and resigned from the force unexpectedly in August 2011. However, records indicate that he applied for and received unemployment benefits between April and August while out on unpaid leave.
The City has not recovered those funds yet, and Randall is currently incarcerated at a medium security federal prison in Butner, NC.
Mullen, unbelievably, is still employed with the Revere Police.
Last October, he was caught up in a long-term investigation by the Channel 4 I-Team that showed him routinely going home during his working hours over a period of several months. He apparently spent many hours at his North Revere home while he was supposed to be on patrol and, according to the TV report, routinely put off responding to incidents while sitting at home.
After the report, he was immediately suspended for the maximum of five days by former Chief Terence Reardon and put on unpaid leave pending a termination hearing.
During that time of unpaid leave, records show that he put in for and received unemployment benefits from the City.
The termination hearing finally did happen, and incredibly enough, Mullen was restored to the force.
He currently works the night shift on the RPD, and the claims paid to him by the City have not been recovered yet. Anzuoni said that unemployment claims are much more damaging to the City than to a private business.
That’s because the City is on a direct pay system, rather than a Trust Fund/insurance system – as many businesses are on.
Instead of just paying a portion of an unemployment claim, the City is responsible for the full cost of the claim. The down economy and increased layoffs in City government have led to several legitimate unemployment claims that have taken a toll on the City’s unemployment budget.
That, officials said, is why such claims by Randall and Mullen do hurt the City more than one might expect.
“We’re a direct payer and so that makes it hurt,” said Anzuoni. “It croaks us these days. It does hurt and maybe they do need some reforms.”
Due to privacy laws surrounding unemployment, the exact amount paid to the officers most likely could not be divulged.