NEW: Another delay in officer’s disciplinary ruling, case costing taxpayers $5K a month

The attorneys for the town and for Police Officer Christopher Gallo are both asking for another extension to submit closing briefs in the officer’s disciplinary hearing. The first extension expired on July 31.

The protracted disciplinary process involving Officer Christopher Gallo costs Marblehead taxpayers approximately $5,400 monthly. CURRENT PHOTO / LEIGH BLANDER

“I have told both attorneys that this is the last extension,” Town Administrator Thatcher Kezer told the Current. “I have asked them to inform me of how much time they need before I set a date.” Kezer said the attorneys need more time to “transcribe all of the audio recordings.”

The delay prolongs Gallo’s paid administrative leave, which has cost Marblehead taxpayers approximately $214,800 to $220,000 since June 2021.

The fact-finding public hearing concluded in May with Police Chief Dennis King recommending Gallo be fired. Kezer then asked the town’s and Gallo’s attorneys to submit closing briefs by June 30. However, Kezer, as the hearing officer, extended that deadline to July 31 after counsel for both sides requested more time.

Kezer said he would use the attorneys’ briefs to determine his own recommendation for disciplinary action (or lack thereof) to the Select Board. The town administrator said he would need 30 days once he receives the attorneys’ briefs to draft his recommendation and estimated that would mean the board would decide Gallo’s fate in September.

In the meantime, the prolonged process is costing taxpayers approximately $5,400 per month in salary while Gallo remains on paid administrative leave.

Gallo is accused of spending more than 100 hours at home while on duty over a four-month period and of violating police policies involving a domestic disturbance at his home.

In 2021, an anonymous citizen provided photos to the state’s Office of Inspector General, showing Gallo’s police cruiser parked outside his home during his shifts that started at midnight. Gallo admitted to spending some time at home but claimed that the photos were fabricated by former police officer Tim Tufts. Tufts resigned after Gallo reported him for allegedly carving a swastika into a fellow officer’s car.

The other subject of the pending disciplinary complaint is a domestic disturbance at Gallo’s home in July 2021. Gallo’s then-girlfriend claimed he was abusing her, her children and her dog. Although Gallo was never charged, King launched an investigation due to the involvement of alcohol and children at the scene. Gallo argued that it was impossible to stop his girlfriend from drinking.

In his May testimony, King determined that Gallo’s actions constituted “conduct unbecoming an officer” and accused him of dereliction of duty, falsifying records and violating various policies.

According to required information submitted to the state’s Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Gallo had amassed 11 “sustained” disciplinary complaints, by far the most among Marblehead officers, which had led to multiple suspensions and reprimands during his career of more than 22 years.

Following the public hearing in May, Gallo expressed his desire to clear his name, stating that living in town with the accusations hanging over him had been challenging.

He mentioned he was working in another profession, operating heavy machinery, which he enjoyed and for which he was well compensated. However, he felt he was too young to retire as a police officer.

The Marblehead Current’s associate editor, Leigh Blander, and consulting editor, Kris Olson, contributed reporting.

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Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.

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