CT state police sergeant in DUI crash resigned amid 2nd criminal probe, report shows | #itsecurity | #infosec


A former Connecticut State Police sergeant resigned this month as the agency conducted a criminal investigation into his use of a time management system weeks after he accepted a plea deal for a DUI crash that injured a woman and her daughter, according to the results of the internal affairs probe.

Former State Police Sgt. John McDonald, 38, resigned effective Nov. 4 “while under investigation for such malfeasance or other serious conduct” related to his handling of a time management system earlier this year, according to the internal affairs report about the computer software incident.

McDonald’s resignation follows the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection’s internal investigations into his involvement in the 2019 Southbury crash and the computer incident, which occurred in May, according to the agency’s findings in its 128-page report, obtained this week by Hearst Connecticut Media Group through a Freedom of Information Act request.

On the day of his resignation, state police filed paperwork with the Connecticut Police Officer Standards Training Council to pull McDonald’s certification as they pursued a criminal investigation into the computer incident, the report stated.

Brian Foley, a spokesperson for DESPP Commissioner James Rovella, said on Wednesday the criminal investigation into McDonald’s use of the computer system remains ongoing.

McDonald had been on desk duty since the September 2019 crash in Southbury that resulted in charges of second-degree assault with a motor vehicle, operating a motor vehicle under the influence and failure to obey a stop sign. According to his arrest warrant, McDonald had been drinking for hours at a colleague’s retirement party at a nearby Oxford brewery before the crash.

Earlier this year, McDonald pleaded no contest to two counts of second-degree reckless endangerment in a deal that allowed him to avoid jail time. A state judge also granted his application for an alcohol education program. The DUI charge will be dismissed if McDonald successfully completes the program.

McDonald, a 15-year trooper, was suspended and stripped of his police powers following the crash, but continued to collect a six-figure salary and overtime while he was on administrative duty the past two years.

About a month after accepting the plea deal, McDonald filed a complaint in June against another officer, according to the internal affairs report regarding the computer software investigation. In the complaint, McDonald accused the other officer of misusing the agency’s time management system, the report stated.

However, the investigator said the complaint was unfounded, but determined McDonald may have “committed computer crimes,” the report stated.

According to the report, the investigator said the crimes “included unauthorized access and a disruption of a computer service” on May 26 and May 27 — three weeks after McDonald accepted the plea deal on May 6.

The findings were discussed with command staff at an internal affairs briefing where “it was determined that a criminal investigation be commenced,” the report stated. The case was assigned to the commanding officer of the Central District Major Crime squad.

In the filing to remove his police certification, a box was checked off, indicating McDonald “engaged in conduct that undermines public confidence in law enforcement.”

Following McDonald’s resignation this month, Foley said the latest investigation examined the “truthfulness related to the management of a computer software system.”

“There was no financial loss to the state at all, no theft, just truthfulness,” Foley said.

McDonald’s resignation came after the state police concluded in June its internal investigation into the 2019 crash.

The investigation into the crash found that McDonald violated five department policies, including four that were serious enough that may have resulted in his termination and the other could have warranted disciplinary action, according to the report.

The report stated investigators determined McDonald drank a total of 10 16-ounce beers — two more than were initially reported in the warrant for his arrest, after witnesses told investigators they saw him drink more outside the brewery that was not captured by security video.

In addition to conduct that could reflect negatively on the department, the report concluded McDonald violated rules against behavior that could prevent an employee from performing their job, including “suspension of police powers.” McDonald’s police powers were suspended nearly two months after the accident on Nov. 14, 2019, the report stated.

The report also found McDonald violated department rules against the “commission of a felony of any type or a misdemeanor, which results in incarceration, is related to the employee’s employment or the nature of the underlying conduct would adversely impact the employee’s ability to perform his/her job” as well as the improper use of alcohol, prescription drugs or over-the-counter medication, and an agency rule that officers have a “zero percent ratio” of alcohol in their blood while operating a state vehicle.

The report stated “arrangements were being made to get Sgt. McDonald a ride home so he wouldn’t have to drive,” after he was seen losing his balance and had a “more open personality” at the brewery.

However, McDonald left the bar on his own around 6:55 p.m. that night, the report stated. McDonald, who was off-duty but was driving a state police cruiser, traveled about a mile before failing to stop at the intersection of Airport Access Road and Strongtown Road, “colliding into the passenger side of another vehicle traveling northbound on Strongtown Road,” the report stated. The force of the crash “sent both vehicles off the road west into the woods a considerable distance,” the report stated.

When police arrived, a witness described McDonald as “hammered,” according to the report. The driver of the other car and her passenger were both taken to St. Mary’s Hospital, and the passenger sustained a broken wrist, according to the report. The woman and her daughter have filed a civil lawsuit against McDonald.

Investigators estimated that based on the number of beers and McDonald’s weight, he would have had a blood-alcohol content of around 0.15, nearly twice the legal limit, according to the report.

McDonald was taken to Waterbury Hospital, but left before he was treated, the report stated. An EMT who transported McDonald that night told investigators that the sergeant got up and left after he said he needed to make a phone call, according to the report.

During an interview with internal affairs investigators, McDonald claimed he did not remember anything from the crash except “standing in the road after the accident and his glasses were gone,” the report stated. He also claimed he had memory loss from the days leading up to the accident, the report stated.

The report also noted that the “facts and circumstances” around the crash gained the department “unfavorable media attention,” pointing to several headlines from news outlets that appeared online.

“Sergeant John McDonald’s condition and conduct during the evening of September 25, 2019, reflected negatively and was damaging to the image of the department as indicated by the content of the above news publications,” the report stated.



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