Gloucester, Ma., officials yesterday fired Police Chief Leonard Campanello, a high-profile leader in the state’s opioid fight, after accusing him of destroying evidence during a probe into his relationships with two women who an investigator said “may have been in fear for their safety,’’ the Boston Globe reports. The chief allegedly lied to investigators, apparently deleted 653 text messages sent to and received from one of the women in one day on a city-owned cellphone, and concocted a story suggesting the phone was stolen, a special counsel hired by the city said.
Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken said she made the decision “with regret and a heavy heart” but added she had been left with no choice but to oust Campanello, who became chief in 2012. “Chief Campanello’s actions are entirely unethical and unacceptable,” Romeo Theken said. “It is for these reasons I have determined the Gloucester Police Department needs a change of leadership.” Campanello’s attorney, Terrence Kennedy of Everett, described the investigation as a “witch hunt” and said the termination violated the chief’s contract. Campanello gained national attention through his efforts to help, rather than punish, drug addicts. He was honored at the White House in July. City officials emphasized that Campanello was being fired over his handling of the messages and other evidence, rather than his relationships with the two women.