An indictment is always a disappointment, so why is this man smiling?
But what does ex-Methuen police chief Joseph Solomon care? His motto is, if you’re indicted, you’re invited.
How did he run the Methuen PD, you ask?
Like “the don of an organized-crime family,” according to one of the several scathing reports about him over the years.
Don Solomon was paid $326,272 a year as chief. Plus he got to run a business on the side – “security.” He got a “night deferential.” He didn’t have one police car, he had two.
The second cruiser was used by Chief Solomon to smoke cigars in. Or so said one of the dissident city councilors, who by the way happened to be a Lawrence police officer. You can’t be a real organized-crime don unless you smoke cigars.
As he stuffed holiday envelopes full of bribes for his bent feds and crooked local police, Whitey Bulger used to quip, “Christmas is for cops and kids!”
For Joseph Solomon, the capo di tutti capi of the Methuen PD, every day was Christmas.
When they eventually build a Massachusetts Corrupt Cops Hall of Fame, Solomon should be inducted as a charter member, alongside Zip Connolly, H. Paul Rico and Gerry Clemente.
He was fired once, in 2008. But this being Massachusetts, the Don was ordered rehired, and he got back pay of $195,000 for his, uh, wrongful termination. And he resumed what the state now says was his life of crime in uniform.
He was charged this week by a state grand jury with a laundry list of corruption charges, including perjury by written document, uttering a forged document, procurement fraud and a host of violations of the civil-service laws.
Solomon was basically running his own personal hackerama out of the Methuen Police Department. Everything was done with the connivance of the local political establishment, which made the current Boston City Council look like the Good Government Association.
For a long time, Methuen City Hall was in fact King Solomon’s Mines. And there was plenty of gold in them thar hills.
You know, it’s one thing to feed at the trough. It’s another thing to lick the plate.
Chief Solomon never got that memo. Or maybe he was too busy taking all those junkets to sunny places for shady people. Or negotiating his next contract, with the $20,129 kiss for his very prestigious college degree, not to mention collecting a salary that was eventually supposed to rise to $375,548 a year. Think of what his pension would have been then.
In a city of 53,000, Solomon was making more than the police chiefs/commissioners of, among other places, New York, Chicago and Houston.
He was, of course, a “counter-terrorism expert.” He terrorized the taxpayers of Methuen.
The attorney general put out a bare-bones press release about his indictment Thursday night. The actual charges apparently won’t be filed until next week in Salem.
There’s also a 203-page report detailing Solomon’s looting spree that was written by a former state police officer who now runs a private-detective agency. Like the indictment, it’s not totally public yet either, but a few parts have been leaked.
Solomon was described as running the department through “humiliation, fear, intimidation and retaliation.”
The Methuen Police Department, the ex-trooper said, was “a textbook case of public corruption.”
Apparently the new AG and the new district attorney of Essex County agreed.
If you check out Solomon’s political contributions, you can learn that his favorite payroll patriot was Diana DiZoglio, who is now calling herself the “reform” auditor of Massachusetts.
She pocketed at least $1550 from Don Solomon. I’m sure it had no connection to the fact that one of the Methuen city councilors also had the last name of DiZoglio.
Other than handing them cash, how was Solomon able to get the local yokels to go along with his highway robbery? Well, the guy who was indicted with Don Solomon is a former city councilor who had been put on the department. The councilor had no credentials for the job so they just forged them – at least according to the indictment.
Two of the patrolmen were the sons of city councilors. A former mayor, Jim Jajuga, who used to work for the other Bulger brother Billy as a state senator, had a son who was a captain.
When Jajuga was elected mayor, Solomon “gave” him a brand new Chevy Tahoe SUV with tinted windows. It was a gift, so-called, from the PD.
According to a report by the state inspector general, two city councilors were on the short list to be hired as cops. And what jobs!
The last police contract the Don was mixed up in would have paid captains as much as $459,906 a year, lieutenants $289,834 and sergeants $181,298 a year.
Plus overtime and details.
The union totally rewrote that pact after the city’s negotiators had agreed to a real contract. It was so outrageous that the union’s lawyer emailed one of Solomon’s caporegimes, Griftin’ Greg Gallant, that he just hoped the city “doesn’t bring its calculators” when it signed off on the heist.
Most of this stuff is at least two years old. I had thought Solomon et al. were going to skate. This is, after all, Massachusetts. But then Thursday night the news was released. I put City Councilor D.J. Beauregard, one of the real reformers, on my radio show for a victory lap.
Some of Solomon’s stooges immediately took to social media to accuse Beauregard of being “giddy” about the fall of the Don. He pleads guilty to glee.
“They were screwing 53,000 taxpaying residents of Methuen for years,” he said. “Yeah, I’m happy there’s finally maybe going to be some justice.”
There’s an election coming up in Methuen Nov. 7. Some of the Don’s soldiers – or their children – are trying to resurrect their squalid careers. Again, this is Massachusetts. No matter how corrupt, you can always run again. Look at the Kool Aid Kult on the GOP state committee.
As for Methuen, is it too late for Kendra Lara and Ricky Ricardo Arroyo to head north to run write-in campaigns for the City Council? They’d be perfect additions to the Solomon Crime Family.