New depositions show Police Chief Jody Kasper suspected threatening letters sent to an NPD lieutenant were written by a former captain who resigned amid a time-card fixing sandal
By Dusty Christensen
NORTHAMPTON — “Your every move will be watched — both inside this building on duty and outside this building off duty. I know and have seen you inside where you now hang out in Easthampton. Behave yourself because you will be watched.”
Those were some of the words contained in an anonymous letter that Northampton Police Department Lt. Alan Borowski says was sent to him and the department in 2017, threatening Borowski with the loss of his job and retirement. It was the second of what would eventually be four such letters, some of which levied allegations of misconduct against Borowski. The letters threw the department into what independent investigators later described as “unending turmoil,” and ultimately led Borowski to sue the city and NPD’s leadership over its handling of the situation.
Now, newly revealed court documents in Borowki’s lawsuit reveal who Police Chief Jody Kasper suspected of writing the letters.
“It’s a total hunch, but I believe Scott Savino was writing the letters,” Kasper said in a portion of a deposition made public last month. Savino is a former NPD captain who retired in 2013 after an investigation by the then Hampden district attorney found that Savino “knowingly” verified a “small portion” of unworked hours that an NPD assistant had filed.
In a third-party firm’s 2019 investigation of the tumult, Borowski said he had played a role in assisting former police chief Russell Sienkiewicz’s investigation of Savino. Borowski has also said in his lawsuit that the NPD should have investigated Savino’s friend, longtime NPD Detective Peter Fappiano, to determine if he played any role in the writing of the letters. In her deposition, Kasper said that she thought Fappiano “could have been sharing the information with Scott Savino.”
Now, Borowki’s lawyers have subpoenaed a prosecutor from the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, Steven Gagne, for questioning. In a court filing last month, Borowski’s lawyers said they want to determine why the DA’s office “only” began a “limited” criminal investigation after Borowski received a fourth anonymous letter in 2021; that was a year after Fappiano retired, Borowski’s lawyers said.
Borowski’s lawyers have said they want to explore whether “Brady concerns” motivated any of the investigatory decisions made in the case. “Brady” refers to a Brady list, which DA’s offices keep to track what police officers have been found to have credibility issues. Brady lists are kept because prosecutors are required to turn over potentially exculpatory evidence to defendants in criminal cases.
The DA’s office has filed a motion to quash Borowski’s subpoena, arguing that it calls for the disclosure of legally privileged information.
In Kasper’s deposition, she agreed when one of Borowski’s lawyers asked whether Fappiano had testified often in narcotics investigations. Borowski’s lawyer asked her whether she ever discussed Fappiano’s credibility, or the possibility of Fappiano ending up on a Brady list, with Gagne.
“I don’t remember,” Kasper answered.
The Shoestring’s efforts to reach Savino and Fappiano were unsuccessful. Borowski’s lawyers did not respond to email and phone messages requesting comment.
Reached by email, Kasper declined to comment on pending litigation. So too did the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office.
Beginning in the fall of 2017, the Northampton Police Department was reportedly rife with distrust and internal scandal.
At the center of the controversy were the anonymous, often threatening letters accusing Borowski of misconduct. The department hired the firm APD Management to investigate allegations made in a first anonymous letter, which accused Borowski of inappropriately removing drugs from the department’s pill drop box. Kasper ultimately suspended Borowski for two days over the incident.
Higher-ups then initiated a second investigation of Borowski based on allegations from others in the department who claimed he had drunkenly driven his police cruiser with his girlfriend and told subordinates that their commitment to their children’s activities interfered with their work duties. Administrators suspended Borowski for three days and removed him as the head of the detective bureau.
But Borowski and his union appealed that discipline. Soon after, an arbitrator ruled that the investigation into his behavior was “not fair” and the city rescinded all of its discipline and findings of wrongdoing against him. Borowski still works at the police department, and in 2022 he was the highest-paid city employee in Northampton, earning $188,133, according to payroll records.
The extent to which the NPD and DA’s office investigated the letters’ origins is now at the center of the lawsuit Borowski filed against the department and its leadership in 2020.
The lawsuit alleges that Borowski’s superiors knew the first letter’s allegations against him had no basis but that they interfered in APD’s investigation and withheld evidence that would have cleared his name. It also alleges NPD’s top brass “falsely” and “maliciously” opened the second internal investigation to smear him and ruin his career.
In portions of Kasper’s deposition, she said the department did send the letters to a crime lab for fingerprint testing. In that deposition, Kasper said she didn’t create an “offense report” related to the letters because the DA’s office told her there wasn’t a crime involved.
But in his own deposition, Borowski alleged that he met with Gagne and that Gagne told him that he was being subjected to criminal harassment.
“We just met, had a drink, and talked about what was going on,” Borowski alleged in his deposition. “I told him about what was happening with it and my concerns and fears … He told me it was absolutely criminal harassment.”
Borowski’s lawyers now want Gagne to sit down for a deposition. Borowski should be able to explore, his lawyers argued in a court filing, “whether Brady concerns motivated any party involved in the investigatory decisions in this case, including of course the decision not to conduct, or to limit, any such investigation.”
If the DA’s office’s efforts to quash Borowski’s subpoena are successful, Gagne won’t have to answer those questions.
In 2019, the city of Northampton spent $26,225 to hire an independent firm to investigate complaints that Fappiano lodged, alleging that department leadership, Borowski and Sgt. Brian Letzeisen had created a hostile work environment for him and violated NPD policies.
Fappiano alleged that Kasper falsely believed he had written the anonymous letters and retaliated against him in the workplace, according to the third-party report, obtained via a public records request. He alleged that retaliation included changing his schedule and giving his name to state police as a source of information as they looked into allegations against Borowski contained in the third anonymous letter, the report says. During that investigation, the state police asked Fappiano if he was the author of the letters, the report alleges.
That report ultimately found that NPD leadership did not discriminate against or harass Fappiano.
Fappiano also sued the city in 2019, alleging that the city unfairly denied him injured-on-duty status, forcing him to use sick and personal time to recover from knee injuries he sustained while on duty. The parties agreed in February 2020 to dismiss the lawsuit, according to court records. Fappiano made $116,557 in 2019, city records show.
Dusty Christensen is an independent investigative reporter based in western Massachusetts. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @dustyc123.
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