Events of the past month

November 28, 2010

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Oct. 28
Middlesex Sheriff James V. DiPaola files papers for retirement with the state retirement board and arranges with the human services department at the sheriff’s office to have his pay discontinued after Election Day. By retiring, DiPaola would be eligible to receive both his $98,500 pension and $123,000 salary as sheriff under a legal loophole designed to let retirees run for office without losing their pensions. He does not announce his retirement to his staff or to voters, and he continues to perform his duties as sheriff.

Nov. 2
DiPaola wins reelection to a third six-year term with more than 75 percent of the vote. Middlesex County voters are unaware of DiPaola’s status as a retiree when they mark their ballots.

Nov. 19
DiPaola is contacted by is contacted by Globe reporter Sean P. Murphy, who interviews him about his plans to receive both his pension and his salary, beginning Jan. 5, when DiPaola is to be sworn in. DiPaola answers the questions amiably and acknowledges the reason he retired Oct. 28 was to be eligible for both his pension and salary. He defends his actions as strictly legal. The Globe story is scheduled to be published Nov. 21.

Nov. 20
DiPaola calls Murphy at 8 a.m., saying he thinks he made a mistake in arranging to take a pension on top of his salary. Over coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts in Medford, he says he had a sleepless night fighting with his conscience and finally decided it was wrong to take a pension under the circumstances. Instead, in a letter to Middlesex residents, which he gives to Murphy, DiPaola says he will resign as sheriff a day after he is sworn in, taking only his pension. The statement gives credit to Murphy for helping DiPaola make his decision, saying the pension scheme would have overshadowed his 36 years of public service. “I’d always be remembered for this, for double-dipping, that that would be my legacy,’’ DiPaola says.

Nov. 21
A Globe story about DiPaola’s change of heart appears on the front page.

Nov. 21
Fox-25 TV airs a story quoting an unnamed former employee as saying 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.

Nov. 22
DiPaola tells the Globe he was being investigated by the state Ethics Commission over allegations that sheriff’s office employees were fund-raising for his political committee, which is forbidden by state law. He also denies the allegations in the Fox-25 television report. He says he expected the Ethics Commission to find that he had engaged in no wrongdoing.

DiPaola is found dead, in an apparent suicide.

Compiled by Sean P. Murphy