James DiPaola, the longtime sheriff of Middlesex County, Ma., was discovered dead Saturday from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound in a southern Maine resort, the Boston Globe reports. DiPaola, a 57-year-old Democrat with more than 30 years in public service, had announced a week ago that he would retire in January, after being questioned by the Globe about his plans to collect a state pension while continuing to serve as sheriff. He acknowledged an ethics investigation into his office.
DiPaola's name burst into the news in the past week, when the Globe reported that the longtime sheriff had hatched a scheme that would have allowed him to collect a $98,500 annual pension at the same time he earned a sheriff's salary of $123,000. After reporters confronted him, DiPaola abandoned his plans to take advantage of a loophole in pension law and said that, instead, he would resign in January. Then WFXT-TV in Boston broadcast a story alleging that DiPaola pocketed money intended for his political campaign committee and had sheriff's employees use official vehicles to pick him up on occasions when he had been drinking.