Top trooper’s No. 2 quits as scrubbed arrest report scandal deepens

The Troopergate scandal claimed another top state police officer yesterday, with the agency’s second-in-command following his boss into hasty retirement.

Deputy Superintendent Francis Hughes announced last night he is joining Col. Richard McKeon in retirement after McKeon faced widespread criticism for ordering two troopers to scrub embarrassing details from the drug and OUI arrest report of a judge’s daughter.

McKeon was scheduled to step down Friday from his $251,000-a-year post, but he abruptly ended his near 35-year career at the close of business yesterday with no explanation. State police spokesman David Procopio said he didn’t know why McKeon chose to leave early, and efforts to reach McKeon were not successful.

“The timing is very questionable,” attorney Leonard Kesten, who represents the two troopers who are suing McKeon and others, said of the dual retirements. “They keep saying, ‘Nobody did anything wrong. It’s all routine.’ And then the top two just abruptly retired.

“There’s serious wrongdoing that we are looking into … and it speaks volumes,” he said.

Hughes — a 31-year veteran and past Trooper of the Year before he was tapped for his $233,889-a-year deputy position — wasn’t specifically named in either of the troopers’ suits. But Kesten said Hughes was a “John Doe” identified in court paperwork, calling him a “link” between McKeon and other staff who could be deposed as part of the suit.

Dana Pullman, president of the State Police Association of Massachusetts, said the union on Monday had filed an official complaint with internal affairs seeking an investigation of the matter.

“In no way is this protocol or normal,” Pullman said of the quick exits. “It’s like a murder-suicide.”

But Procopio said in a statement, “Traditionally, when a Colonel/Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police leaves his or her position, the Deputy Superintendent resigns as well to allow a new Colonel to select a second-in-command of his or her own choosing.”

Whether an internal investigation goes forward will be up to whoever is tapped as the new permanent colonel, Procopio said. A spokeswoman for Gov. Charlie Baker said he planned to “appoint a new colonel soon.”

Lt. Col. Dermot Quinn has been named interim commander of the department.

When Col. Timothy Alben retired in 2015, his deputy, James Hanafin did, too — but not until weeks afterward. State police even celebrated Hanafin’s departure…

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