Feds: Ex-State Police union chief ran criminal enterprise
He and lobbyist operated illegal kickback scheme
ACCUSED OF RUNNING the State Police union like a criminal organization, Dana Pullman was arrested by federal agents early Wednesday morning along with Anne Lynch, a Beacon Hill lobbyist.
Together the two are accused of running an illegal kickback scheme that funneled state troopers’ money into both of their pockets, and defrauding unnamed companies trying to secure contracts with the state.
Pullman was also accused of embezzlement for allegedly using a State Police Association of Massachusetts (SPAM) debit card to make personal purchases, including buying caviar and champagne, a “fully loaded” Chevrolet Suburban, thousands of dollars in flowers, and a getaway to Miami with a woman with whom he was having an affair, authorities announced Wednesday.
“They lined their pockets with thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks and defrauded at least two different companies seeking to do business with the state,” said FBI Boston Special Agent in Charge Joseph Bonavolonta. “As president of SPAM, we believe Pullman wielded the union like a criminal enterprise, running it like an old school mob boss, conspiring with Lynch to steal tens of thousands of dollars from its members and the Commonwealth.”
“We’re going to fight this case in court,” Weinberg told reporters. “There’s going to be a trial someday, and that’s when you’ll see the defense.”
The charges brought by US Attorney Andrew Lelling represent the latest scandal to rock the law enforcement organization responsible for investigating major crimes and patrolling state highways, which has been shaken in recent months by revelations that numerous troopers falsified records to collect overtime pay.
“It has been a rough few years for the rank and file of the Massachusetts State Police,” said Lelling, who said that the state troopers and sergeants put their trust in Pullman and he “betrayed that trust and, simply put, took their money.”
The federal criminal case would also shine a new light on lobbying on Beacon Hill. Lynch’s firm, Lynch Associates, collected $338,035 from clients during the first six months of this year. The State Police Association of Massachusetts was not one of its clients. In 2018, however, the firm collected $892,750, including $84,000 from the State Police Association. According to the secretary of state’s office, there are no records of complaints or disciplinary measures for Anne Lynch or Lynch Associates.
Both Lynch, a 68-year-old Hull resident, and Pullman, a 57-year-old Worcester resident, were arrested between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. at their respective homes, said Bonavolonta.
Lynch, a longtime Beacon Hill lobbyist who authorities said was friends with Pullman, sold her firm, Lynch Associates, to two family members in October 2016 but continued working as a paid consultant, including representing SPAM, according to the criminal complaint.
According to an archived bio on her firm’s website, Lynch’s lobbying days stretch back to around 1978 when she was the founder and president of Customized Association Services Inc., a government affairs and association management firm. After that she became executive director and legislative counsel to the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys from 1993 to 1998, according to the bio. Lynch founded her firm in about 2001, according to the complaint.
The two were brought in and out of court in handcuffs on Wednesday, and Magistrate Judge Jennifer Boal required them each to post an unsecured bond of $25,000 and agree to certain conditions in order to be released from federal custody pre-trial. Lynch wore a white shirt and blue jeans and Pullman wore a blue dress shirt and slacks.
Both had to surrender their passports. Pullman cannot travel outside New England and was required to surrender firearms, which Boal said he already did. Lynch cannot travel outside New England or New York and must refrain from lobbying, which her lawyer Scott Lopez said wouldn’t be a problem because she is retired. Neither Lynch nor Lopez spoke to the press after the court appearance.
“Colonel Gilpin and her Command Staff demand and expect that department members follow the law and department policy in all aspects of their professional and personal lives, including union activities,” said State Police spokesman David Procopio in a statement. “The conduct as alleged in the criminal complaint represents serious offenses and violates the ideals and values of the Massachusetts State Police.
The complaint details one particular kickback, where Pullman and Lynch allegedly sliced themselves off a sizable hunk from a $22 million settlement the state paid out in 2014 for its previous failure to properly compensate State Police employees who worked on scheduled days off. Pullman allegedly insisted on obtaining hundreds of thousands of dollars to compensate SPAM for the expenses it incurred pursuing the grievance. When the Patrick administration asked for documentation of those expenses, Pullman allegedly said he would “stalk” the governor’s deputy chief of staff about the issue.
Ultimately, the state agreed to pay SPAM $350,000 without the documentation, and then Pullman directed SPAM’s treasurer to cut a check to Lynch’s firm for $250,000. When the treasurer objected, Pullman allegedly pounded the table and yelled, “Stop breaking my fucking balls and give me the check.” After the firm received the payout, Lynch allegedly wrote herself a check from the firm’s account for $50,000, and, on the day she deposited it, she wrote another check for $20,000 to Pullman’s spouse, according to the complaint.
On Oct. 17, 2018, an FBI agent and an IRS agent interviewed Lynch for two hours at her home, where she allegedly denied making any payments to Pullman or his spouse, which federal authorities said were lies. Lynch and Pullman allegedly sought to obstruct the production of records for federal agents investigating the matter.
The complaint goes into some detail about Pullman’s alleged embezzlement of SPAM funds, including lavish spending on a woman Lelling indicated that Pullman was having an affair with. According to the indictment, Pullman spent more than $4,400 in flowers and gifts for that woman dubbed “Individual #1,” $8,000 in personal meals with her at Boston restaurants, thousands of dollars paid in late winter 2017 on a getaway to Miami Beach, and $10,000 for a Quincy non-profit’s charity gala in Boston that he attended with her. In addition, Pullman allegedly leased a Suburban SUV with union funds and paid for $2,000 in iTunes charges.
“Mr. Pullman strongly denies each and every one of the allegations in today’s criminal complaint,” Weinberg said, standing outside the courthouse next to his client. “For six years Dana Pullman was the president of the Mass. State Police union. He elevated it. He was a successful president. The union in 2018 was far better, stronger, wealthier than it was in 2012. Mr. Pullman did not act in any respect to compromise his loyalty or to betray his trust in the union.”
Lynch and Pullman also allegedly conspired to defraud companies seeking contracts with the state. Pullman encouraged a small New York firm, which was working on computer-aided dispatch and seeking the union’s support, to hire Lynch as a lobbyist. He concealed from the company that he received a $5,000 commission for the referral.
Pullman also encouraged an Arizona manufacturer of smart weapons to retain Lynch. Between October 2015 and May 2016, the Arizona company, which from state records appears to be Taser International of Scottsdale, Arizona, paid Lynch’s firm $138,000 to lobby state lawmakers for funding the full deployment of so-called smart weapons within the State Police. Lynch allegedly paid Pullman $5,000 for his work on that contract. During a press conference Wednesday morning, Lelling was unable to say whether those firms had been successful in their pursuit of business with the state.
The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism connected the dots and identified that weapons manufacturer as Taser, reporting that Taser had also hired the former firm Rasky Baerlein.
The investigation into began in July 2018 when authorities looked into whether Pullman and other SPAM officials were making straw donations to politicians. Pullman allegedly encouraged members of the union’s executive board, which he chaired, to submit falsified expense reports, such as phony mileage expenses, so as to “cover other uncompensated expenses including political contributions they were expected to make.”Office of Campaign and Political Finance records indicate Pullman himself has given roughly $30,000 in state donations to Democrats and Republicans over the years.
Three months in, the investigation expanded beyond those initial political donation allegations to the kickback accusations detailed Wednesday. During his press conference, Lelling said officials are “looking into additional allegations, which could result in additional charges.”