Citing the “level of effort” required to ensure everything was done properly, Marblehead Town Administrator Thatcher Kezer granted himself an extension to Dec. 1 to complete his report in which he will make his recommendation about possible further disciplinary action against Police Officer Christopher Gallo, Kezer told the Select Board at his Oct. 11 meeting.
The extension means that Gallo’s paid administrative leave, which began on June 16, 2021, will extend into its 31st month.
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.
A public hearing concluded in May with Police Chief Dennis King recommending Gallo be fired. Attorneys for Gallo and the town then requested and were granted a couple of extensions to file their final briefs with Kezer, the request for the second extension attributed to the need for more time to “transcribe all of the audio recordings.”
Kezer initially had said that once he had the briefs in hand, he would need 30 days to prepare his recommendation. But at the Oct. 11 Select Board meeting, Kezer acknowledged that that 30-day period had expired the previous Friday.
“What’s important in this process is that the process is done correctly,” Kezer said.
That, he suggested, was more important than how long the process takes.
The determination that he makes — and that the Select Board will ultimately make after receiving his recommendation — must be “proper and defendable against any future challenge,” Kezer said.
According to payroll records provided in response to a public records request from the Marblehead Current a little over a year ago, Gallo has been earning approximately $5,400 per month while out on leave.
Select Board Chair Erin Noonan acknowledged that there is a “lot of interest and concern” in the community about the length of the process.
But she also noted that, as an attorney, she is familiar with the concept that “the wheels of the legal system do grind slowly.”
Kezer said that once his recommendation is ready, the next step would be for the Select Board to schedule a special meeting to discuss and vote on whether to adopt that recommendation.