Boston, MA – A Massachusetts State Police internal investigation has cleared their staff of wrongdoing for hiring a known former drug dealer to be a trooper, the Boston Globe reported.
The agency says that it was all Trooper Leigha Genduso's fault for not telling them she was a drug dealer, despite it being public record.
After reviewing the findings of the internal investigation, Genduso, 37, resigned her position on Friday.
She was given a dishonorable discharge, which she said she plans to appeal.
“I feel like I’m being hung out to dry because of mistakes in my past,” Genduso told the Boston Globe after news of her criminal past came to light. “Nobody’s perfect, and basically everyone messes up.”
Genduso’s history with the state police began long before she was hired as a civilian dispatcher a decade ago – she was a key witness in their joint investigation with the Drug Enforcement Administration stemming back to 2003.
In 2007, just a year before she was hired, Genduso testified against her former fiancé, large-scale drug dealer Sean Bucci, in order to avoid being charged federally for her role in the illegal operation, the Boston Globe reported.
During her two days of testimony, Genduso explained that she began dating Bucci when she was 19 years old, and that she eventually moved in with him in 2000.
Genduso said that Bucci’s supplier would pull into their garage with a truck loaded with 200 pounds of marijuana at a time.
“A lot of times I helped him break up the bales to be able to put them into pounds,” Genduso told the court, adding that she was also using marijuana “basically every day.”
Genduso helped keep track of Bucci’s drug sales using a cash counting machine, and deposited funds into his accounts in increments just below $10,000, she said.
She even began dealing on her own from 2002 until 2003, delivering 10-pound packages of marijuana to a customer in gift-wrapped boxes to avoid detection, she said.
Just before their home was raided in 2003, Bucci urged her to flee the residence with $275,000 cash stuffed into a box.
Genduso said she used part of the money to hire attorneys to represent them.
In exchange for her testimony, Genduso was granted immunity.
Bucci was subsequently convicted of tax evasion, money laundering, and conspiracy to distribute over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, and was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. He was also ordered to forfeit his home, car, boat, and $2.7 million, the Boston Globe reported.
During his trial, Genduso testified that she broke up with him in 2004, and that she hadn’t used or sold marijuana since 2003.
Details of the Bucci case – including transcripts of Genduso’s testimony – were already posted on the court’s website when Genduso applied to become a civilian dispatcher with the Massachusetts State Police in 2008, and the former address she listed on the application was the same home that Bucci was ordered to forfeit as a result of his conviction.
Findings of the recent internal investigation noted that the agency was in a “hiring crunch” when Genduso applied for the dispatch position, and that the “modified background investigation” the state police used was not as extensive as it should have been, the Boston Globe reported.
In 2014, following another background check, Genduso was hired as a trooper.
At the time, she was living with MSP Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Risteen, who was third in command at the agency when he abruptly retired in February amid a corruption scandal involving covering up details of the arrest of a judge's daughter.
On the same date, Genduso was suspended due to the internal investigation.
During her time as an MSP trooper, Genduso became a K9 handler and received a commendation and positive evaluations, her attorney, Daniel Moynihan said, according to the Boston Globe.
The internal investigation began in February, after Turtleboy Sports got a tip about her past, and easily found the openly-available court records where she admitted to being a drug dealer.
Investigators ultimately concluded that Genduso committed 11 agency rule and regulation violations, and that she provided “omissions and deceptive responses” to thwart investigators’ efforts to thoroughly vet her for her positions within the department.
Neither Lt. Col. Risteen nor his close friend who approved Genduso’s hiring, MSP Lt. Col. Francis Hughes, were interviewed during the internal investigation.
After a blogger did a better job finding out about Genduco's past than two MSP background checks, the agency cleared their agency's hiring practices and blamed Genduso's dishonestly.
MSP Detective David McQueeney, who conducted the probe, said that Genduso lied or withheld information nine times during the investigation, especially when questioned about her drug involvement and her association with criminals.
She also denied having ever been accused of committing a crime, Det. McQueeney noted.
However, Genduso's attorney said that the agency was aware of her past.
“Our investigation has revealed that it was clear that numerous members of the command staff, both past and present, were aware of the Bucci matter before Ms. Genduso’s hiring even as a dispatcher, much less a trooper,” Moynihan argued, according to the Boston Globe.
“For them to completely absolve themselves is disingenuous,” he added. “They went along with it. Now they act shocked.”
Genduso said that, during her second background investigation, Detective Lieutenant Jodi Dotolo told her that she didn’t plan to check out Genduso’s home, because she knew she resided with Lt. Col. Risteen.
Det. Dotolo also admitted during the internal probe that she mistakenly believed Genduso had been thoroughly vetted when she was first hired by the agency in 2008.
The department also failed to contact law enforcement agencies in the communities Genduso listed as having lived in prior to joining the department.
The probe ultimately concluded that the MSP’s 2013 background check was “thorough and complete,” and that Genduso’s “omissions” and lies were the only reason why investigators did not learn of her past.
“I had a background investigation like everybody else did,” Genduso told the Boston Globe in April. “I answered the questions.”
MSP Director of Human Resources Shawn Givhan said that background investigators operate on the premise that what the applicant has told them was the truth, and that they would not be able to identify that they had been deceived unless they received a tip, the Boston Globe reported.
Genduso said she decided to resign from her position because she wanted to “walk away with some dignity rather than keep battling.”
MSP spokesman David Procopio said that the agency has established a new background investigation checklist, which now includes questions about the candidate’s involvement in any criminal investigation, even if they were not charged with an offense.
They did not address their claimed premise that everybody who applies to be a trooper is telling them the truth.