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UPDATE: Ackley's Accusations Against Buscetto Publicized

Documents released by Finizio make numerous complaints against former city councilor

Editor's Note: In the pdf of the police investigation into the incident at Shrine, attached to this article, there is graphic language and profanity.

Update, 8:30 p.m.:

Mayor Daryl Finizio Friday released several documents related to a $25,000 settlement reached with Police Chief Margaret Ackley and her claims against former City Councilor Michael Buscetto.

In the settlement, the city agrees to pay Ackley the sum for full settlement of her claims to avoid “the cost, burden, and uncertainties of litigation.” The settlement was signed by Ackley and Finizio today.

Finizio announced the settlement at the same time that he said two police captains are retiring and a police officer has been fired. Another officer is on paid administrative leave pending investigation of corruption charges. A more detailed article on these developments will be posted shortly.

Finizio also released an August 2011 letter from Ackley’s attorney, Shelley Graves, to former Law Director Thomas Londregan as well as documents related to the disciplinary action of the fired officer. This documentation included officers' testimony that Buscetto sexually harassed women at Foxwoods Resort Casino in 2009 and Ackley’s suspicion that the department was covering up the incident.

Friday night, Buscetto denied the allegations made against him.

Ackley’s charges against Buscetto

The letter from Graves to Londregan, dated Aug. 24 2011, details Ackley’s accusations that Buscetto had sought to undermine her authority in the department. Ackley specifically charged gender discrimination, harassment, and improper conduct by Buscetto “aimed to impede Chief Ackley’s ability to effectively function as police chief and create a hostile working environment.” Ackley also said the city failed to take proper action to investigate or address her complaints “despite its knowledge of discrimination, defamatory remarks, threats, undue influence, improprieties and other systematic interference orchestrated by Councilman Buscetto.”

Ackley’s complaints say that Buscetto:

  • Made “numerous public and discriminatory statements” at City Council meetings and in the media suggesting that she was unqualified and “getting special treatment because she was a woman”
  • Met with other city employees and officials to say that she would not get any financial support requested from the council
  • Violated the City Charter by dealing with subordinate police officers at the rather than her
  • Held only two meetings of the Public Safety Committee, which Buscetto chaired during his four years on the council, while prior meetings were held monthly
  • Lobbied members of organizations and the public to blame Ackley’s leadership for youth violence and the October 2010 murder of
  • Scheduled meetings of the on nights she specifically requested that he not do so, as she would be unable to attend
  • Strategized with New London Police Union officials to hold a vote of no confidence in Ackley, and promised the union that Ackley and Personnel Coordinator Bernadette Welch would be ousted if he were elected mayor
  • Made defamatory remarks about Ackley to members of the police department

Graves also says in the letter that Buscetto sought to use intimidation on certain occasions. She said the first incident occurred in January of 2011 during a meeting with Ackley at Buscetto’s home.

“Buscetto told Ackley he thought they could both help each other if they worked together,” the letter states. Ackley says Buscetto told her to “get rid” of a ranking officer, made “demeaning remarks” about a patrolman who should be restricted from youth activities, and “in exchange, he, Capt. (William) Dittman and Union Vice President/Patrolman Todd Lynch will in the future be supportive of her leadership.”

Regarding the claim against the city, Ackley says that she made repeated attempts to tell the city manager, personnel director and law director about Buscetto's actions, and nothing was done. Ackley says she decided in August 2011 to retire because she felt the city was not helping her.

"After her selection for the chief's position, prior to being sworn in, a message was delivered by a police officer who stated he was asked by Buscetto to deliver a message, 'you better not take the position if chief, if you do he will destroy you.' That message was delivered in front of other city ranking employees/agents. No action was taken by the City to investigate this threat." 

Ackley p when he was the . Buscetto ran in the election as a write-in candidate, earning the .

Ackley had negotiated a retirement agreement at the time she made the accusation, but was . She has been chief since 2009, and .

Shrine incident

Ackley also said members of the police department swore statements “attesting to misconduct and impropriety by Councilor Buscetto towards several women at the Shrine nightclub” at Foxwoods Resort Casino. Ackley said city employees took no proper actions to investigate the incident and instead sought to redact investigative files to protect Buscetto.

The statements were made by three police officers during an investigation of Officer Joshua Bergeson, who was accused of slapping a woman at the club in April of 2009 while off duty and intoxicated. Finizio said Friday that Bergeson has been fired due to more recent incidents, but that his disciplinary history was taken into account in the decision.

In the documents, Officer Timothy Henderson said the women involved in the incident told him that Buscetto was touching her inappropriately at the club. Henderson said he did not personally witness this but that the woman “did appear to be upset” after making the accusation.

Officer Cornelius Rodgers said he saw Buscetto take his date’s hand and whisper in her ear. Rodgers said his date told him that Buscetto said he wanted to have sexual intercourse with her. (Editor's Note: In the pdf of the police investigation attached to this article, there is graphic language and profanity.)

“My date was appalled by Buscetto[‘s] statement but I informed her that due to my job it would be best not to make a stink about it,” said Rodgers.

Rodgers also said he saw Buscetto grab the buttocks of another woman when she walked past. He said the woman was angered and her boyfriend, not knowing who had grabbed her, tried to fight Rodgers. He said Buscetto “taunted the boyfriend.”

Officer Trisha Marcaccio said that she danced with Buscetto during the evening and he put his hand on her buttocks and thigh. Marcaccio stated that she was “shocked and offended, because I thought that City Councilor Buscetto completely overstepped his boundaries.” She said Buscetto later put his arm around her while buying her a drink and it made her uncomfortable.

In an undated e-mail about the investigation, Ackley expressed frustration about the investigation.

“It appears that Officers Rodgers and Marcaccio both felt the need to talk about Mike Buscetto in their statements, yet Captain [Michael] Lacey felt that he did not want that information in the file and refused to accept the statements,” Ackley wrote. “Based on the unsigned statement, missing statements, missing tape recordings etc. the investigation hast he appearance of being tainted.”

In November of 2009, Bergeson wrote a memo to Ackley complaining that Lacey had committed official misconduct in the investigation. Bergeson said Lacey had declined to accept Rodgers’ statement and did not have Marcaccio sign her statement. 

Finizio and city councilors’ remarks

The release of documents did not include a report by Beverly Hodgson, a former Superior Court judge who was chosen as an investigator in Ackley’s claims against Buscetto. Finizio said he will meet with the City Council in closed session on Wednesday to discuss the report. Finizio said the document is currently protected under attorney-client confidentiality.

“Under this transition in government there are a lot of kinks to work out in the system…and until a resolution could be determined and better legal reasoning had, I prefer to err on the side of caution in spite of the fact that I had full knowledge that it would not be popular to do,” said Finizio.

Finizio said he considers the $25,00 settlement within the recommendations of Hodgson’s report.

“I will discuss that in detail with the City Council, and share all information with the City Council. It was never my intent to be uncooperative with the City Council," said Finizio.

Council President Michael Passero and Councilors Anthony Nolan and Marie Friess-McSparran were present at Finizio’s press conference. Passero said the council had been concerned after it did not receive the report.

“We had frank discussions this morning, and the mayor understands that the report is basically the council’s report,” said Passero.

Friess-McSparran and Nolan said they were not prepared to comment on the accusations or restructuring before seeing the documentation and the judge’s report.

“I have a concern, that’s all I can say,” said Nolan, who is a police officer. “And until we sit down with the council president and discuss the matter fully, I have no comment.”

Buscetto’s reaction

When contacted this evening, Buscetto denied the charges against him.

“I’ve said it many times: the chief has been less than honest with the public,” he said. “They’re unfounded accusations. I guess you can go to the City Council and make unfounded accusations and get paid for them.”

Buscetto said he had hoped Hodgson’s report would be released alongside the documents made public tonight. He said he also felt Ackley and Finizio should focus more on violent crime in New London.

“Ultimately the chief is responsible for the safety of our city. As I’ve said before, the city has seen a 40 percent increase in violent crime in the past two years and if she feels these moves will help, then great,” Buscetto said of the retirements and termination. “From what I understand the retirement packages were very generous. It seems like everyone’s being paid to get out of the way of the chief.”

Watch video of Mayor Finizio's press conference on theday.com.

Alisha Blake Burnett January 07, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Well John, if he's not your mayor and you are not a resident of New London then what made you think that I was addressing you in this post in the first place?
loves animals January 07, 2012 at 07:23 PM
if you are over 21 and go to parties and clubs and have never had a drunk say something or make a pass at you ,please please please tell me what planet you live on, so I can move there too. Why did this become Ackleys problem I am sure it happens every night at this club, and why do we have to pay 25000,if a regular citizens not a politician was touched or whispered to in a bar in a town not on Us property would we have to pay them for not being able to make a complaint ? Just asking, I think if you are not drunk and do not like what is happening a normal person would leave and a responsible person would call a cab for the drunks?
Christine Rene-Howard January 07, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Lori, if you are so pro-Buscetto (or anti-Finizio) and hungry for the truth, why don't you get him to respond to the allegations? As I've stated before, if you are accused of something and do not respond, you are assuming guilt. It just looks bad for camp Buscetto. I read the comments on his FB page and his followers are very mean and nasty with their comments...and Buscetto does nothing to stop them. I would very much like to hear his side. As a matter of fact, it is necessary.
Christine Rene-Howard January 07, 2012 at 07:26 PM
And I'm not intending to bash anyone. It just seems that there is only one side of the story out there. We need to know the other side before we can know what happened.
Lori Hopkins Cavanagh January 07, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Ann: You make far too much sense. Too bad you are so old and couldn't possibly know anything about life, bars, sex or harassment. Only Finizio supporters know those things cause they be so smart, young and wise!
Lori Hopkins Cavanagh January 07, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Christine Rene-Howard - I agree 100%. You will not find me on Buscetto's Facebook page anywhere.
Lori Hopkins Cavanagh January 07, 2012 at 07:37 PM
I did say earlier that we need to see all the reports, the council investigation and Buscetto's account.
Eric B January 07, 2012 at 07:44 PM
The difference is these were not "regular citizens", these are public servants abusing political connections to obfuscate immoral and illegal acts, in order to avoid repercussions. And in doing so, hindered the effectiveness of the police, and indirectly endangered the citizens. I'm sure a large portion of the settlement will go to cover the personal financial cost to Ackely that it took to bring this injustice to light. You, for some reason beyond me, refuse to acknowledge the obvious immorality and corruption in this situation. Therefore you will never understand or appreciate the costs associated with the only solution available.
Lori Hopkins Cavanagh January 07, 2012 at 07:46 PM
George: It is 1:18 in the afternoon man, wake up! Sorry you got out of bed on the wrong side on this glorious Saturday! So grumpy you are when you wake up. Maybe you should go back to sleep. Smoke another bone or something. Seriously.
Bud McAllister January 07, 2012 at 08:13 PM
So it would seem that Buscetto has a Problem with Women in Position's of Authority, Minorities, the Poor, Homeless and Infirm; who's going to the Buscetto Bash? Anyone taking pictures?
RGray January 07, 2012 at 09:07 PM
You may want to rescind your "admiration" until you hear both or all sides. Seems like there's a lot about this person you admire that you don't know yet.
Christine Rene-Howard January 07, 2012 at 10:35 PM
RGray, I admire her for standing up for herself in a male dominated, good ol' boy system. My admiration for her will stand.
Christine Rene-Howard January 07, 2012 at 10:37 PM
This is to all of the Buscetto supporters: Will this man ever defend himself?
Alan Green, Jr. January 08, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Lori - Like Buscetto, you don't defend yourself against the consistently leveled allegations Laura re-enforces with her comment above. If you missed it: (re Mayor Finizio) Do you know of anyone he threatened or assaulted, do you know of an instance in which Finizio used his political juice/connections to coerce or intimidate anyone? We're waiting... you make outlandish acusations and have no backup. No one in the Finizio camp can be trusted? In what way has any member of Finizio's camp lied? Specifics please. I for one think you're slandering our friend, the Mayor. Anyone else?
Max January 08, 2012 at 12:52 AM
I have never understood the deep animosity Lori has for Mayor Finizio. Her attacks are personal and they have no rational sense of connection to reality. We can all differ on a policy or even a general approach, but her attacks are down right mean-spirited and slanderous. Bury the hatched, the campaigning is over. It's been bearly a month since the inaugeraton of New London's first Mayor in 90 years.
Johnny Habanero January 08, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Hey Lori Hopkins, I cannont believe that someone like you who wanted to be mayor would rant so publicly in a blog the way you do. Its so cowardly to rant and then hit submit. It seems like your mental capacity is going downhill just as fast as your business with all your employees leaving you.
Kathleen Mitchell January 08, 2012 at 02:31 AM
This is the link to the Final Report of Judge Hodgson. https://docs.google.com/open?id=1fNUmbAjptMXISsbPQR2DFhvUgwOh6W8In6XT-zp1A2NZr5dRfobtp61zRVAp While I continue to support Chief Ackley, I question the mayor's $25,000. settlement especially considering the following quote from the report "Because I conclude that the City has not violated federal or state anti-discrimination statutes, my opinion is that Chief Ackley has no basis for an award of attorney's fees."
Mary Maynard January 08, 2012 at 03:03 AM
What happened to executive session?? Is this the way the city council conducts its buisness now? Was a meeting held? Was the law directer there to give opinion? Was a formal vote taken? The manner in which this has come out leaves more questions than answers and now can the city be sued for breaching a contract settlement? Both parties involved may have avenues of recourse. To answer your quest. kathleen it would cost the city MUCH more to go to trial vs. setteling. "Common Law" in most states applies, which means that legal fees cannot be recouped by the city from Ms. Ackley, even if the city won and vice versus. I don't understand what the rush was except for personal political agendas- This whole matter STINKS and is far from over- STUPID!!
Mary Maynard January 08, 2012 at 03:06 AM
Not you Kathleen- the way in which this was handled- I think censoreship of certain people are in order by way of the council.
Max January 08, 2012 at 03:17 AM
From the same report: "In my estimation the settlement value of Chief Ackley's claims would be under $30,000, though the expense of defending against a lawsuit, if it were brought, would be much higher."
Jim January 08, 2012 at 03:21 AM
Lori, You Need help...Your hatred for Finizio has your mind warped... He won...Not you..You present yourself as arrogant, uneducated, with no sense of decency, with no common sense, bitter and not a good personj. I find you totally disgusting.. God help yoy and your family
Rachel Smolenski January 08, 2012 at 04:00 AM
Lori, As I have read through the several posts on this article, it seems that I really don't need to answer and questions as they really have no connection to these incidents. I love the world I live in; you have a right to love yours. Thank goodness for the judicial system.
Rachel Smolenski January 08, 2012 at 04:04 AM
Lori, Not sure where in my posts you saw I said I "have no respect for old people", but that is simply not true. You are accusing me of something you have no facts about. This is a prime example of the problem here in the first place. Thank you for making my point. Enjoy your game.
Rachel Smolenski January 08, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Someone, please back me up on having Lori Hopkins Cavanagh comments removed from this series of posts. Her continued rudeness shows how this incident occurred in the first place. Comments such as "smoke another bone or something", should be flagged as inappropriate. This is not freedom of speech, these are words from a very bitter person.
Rachel Smolenski January 08, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Agreed.
Rachel Smolenski January 08, 2012 at 04:15 AM
Thank you.
CJ January 08, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Lori is bringing up things that have NOTHING to do with this article in a pathetic attempt to attack the Mayor for the actions of his brother, who is an entirely different person. How about Mike Buscetto be held accountable for his own actions? Would that be too much to ask?
CJ January 08, 2012 at 05:04 AM
Lori is crazy, Rachel... haven't you noticed that?? And if you need undeniable proof (and a REAL good chuckle) type 'loriformayor.org' into your browser... ha ha ha... Lori for mayor, that's hilarious... I mean, The Whale Tail received more votes than her!
CJ January 08, 2012 at 05:13 AM
Lori, I know you've been attacking Mayor Finizio on the internet for months but do you really think it's wise to start publicly bashing all of his supporters now too? I know living in Waterford may give you a false sense of security but that's not very far from New London. Seriously.
CJ January 08, 2012 at 05:14 AM
Oh, Lori... really? I don't think it's a good idea to attack everyone who supported an individual candidate just because that candidate wasn't you, but that fact alone DOES make them smart and wise at least.

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