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Report details Southington police detective’s suspension

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SOUTHINGTON — A police detective helped arrest his son’s reported drug dealer in September of last year, and shortly after texted his son the news. An internal police investigation found that the detective violated department confidentiality rules and that the text could have cost police information in the case.

The report, obtained by the Record-Journal Monday, said Detective Lewis Palmieri Jr. violated the department’s policies on keeping police-related information secret and only divulging information to the public with approval.

The Board of Police Commissioners voted in favor of an 80-hour suspension for the detective at a special meeting earlier this month after lengthy private discussion. One board member opposed it.

The police union has contested the discipline of 80 hours’ unpaid suspension. Stephen McEleney, a Hartford attorney representing the police union, called Palmieri’s discipline “outrageous.”

Palmieri, a member of the police department’s Narcotic Enforcement Team, helped investigate and arrest Mark Newton, a Southington man charged with numerous drug violations. According to a police internal affairs report, Newton had sold prescription drugs to Anthony Palmieri, the detective’s son.

After Newton’s arrest, a number of cell phones taken as evidence were being cataloged in the narcotics team office. One of the phones received several calls from a number recognized by Lewis Palmieri as belonging to his son. A debit card belonging to Anthony Palmieri was also found on Newton.

Around 5 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2014, the detective sent his son a text message explaining why Newton wasn’t picking up his phone.

“Oh by the way im sorry I couldn’t answer mr newtons phone when you called him a little bit ago but I was a bit involved with locking him up Oh I forgot to mention im looking at your debit card right now that was in his possession how did your buddy u work with make out with his storage shed ahah,” the text said according to the report.

News of the arrest wasn’t released by the department’s public information officer until 10 a.m. the next morning, the report said.

Police requested and got cell phone records for Anthony Palmieri and found he had texted a number of associates and other drug users hours after receiving the message from his father. One of those texts was to an ex-girlfriend saying he’d left drugs in Newton’s car and that he was looking to find more Suboxone, a prescription medication used to treat opioid dependence, according to the manufacturer website. Another was to one of Anthony Palmieri’s drug dealers, the report said.

“Mark got popped… now is da time to make money,” the text said.

Police investigators interviewed Lewis Palmieri for the report. The detective said Newton’s arrest was made in public and wasn’t a secret.

“Detective Palmieri explained that he did not send the text to provide any information to Anthony to thwart the investigation; he sent the message out of frustration because he saw his son’s number on Newton’s phone,” the report said.

Police Lt. Michael Baribault, the internal investigator, concluded that despite Lewis Palmieri’s intention his text did violate department rules on releasing information and could have hurt the investigation.

“After receiving the text from his father, Anthony began to text known drug users, persons directly involved in the Newton investigation and people whose contact numbers were also found in Newton’s phone, that the arrest had taken place,” Baribault wrote. “Anthony also stopped calling and attempting to communicate with Newton. This prevented the members of the NET unit from gaining any intelligence or information that may have been contained in any communications from Anthony to Newton.”

In August 2013, Anthony Palmieri was charged with strangulation, burglary and criminal mischief in a New Haven home invasion. According to New Haven police, Anthony Palmieri broke into the home of an ex-girlfriend after an argument and attacked her.

Anthony Palmieri also faces three charges of violation of a protective order.

He was scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 10 for those charges.

Anthony Palmieri was also arrested in a Bristol home invasion in April of last year. He pleaded guilty to second-degree breach of peace, according to court documents. Two others were arrested with him.

The first part of Lewis Palmieri’s suspension – four 10-hour days of unpaid leave – began Jan. 3. If Lewis Palmieri has no further discipline for the next two years, the last 40 hours of his suspension will be removed.

Lewis Palmieri is a 26-year veteran of the department.

Police officials have declined to comment. (203)317-2230 Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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