Revere hired DeLeo cousin despite no-shows

By Andrea Estes and Scott Allen
Globe Staff / January 23, 2011

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Joseph DeLeo struggled with a basic requirement of his job: showing up. Twice in 2003, he missed weeks of work as a Boston Municipal Police officer due to what he said were workplace injuries, returning only when doctors determined he was fit to work and his insurance benefits were cut off. Four years later, in 2007, the city terminated DeLeo from a security guard position for excessive absenteeism.

So when the Revere Police Department had a job opening in 2007, the officer who oversees applicant background checks, Captain Michael Murphy, recommended against hiring him.

But DeLeo liked to talk about his not-so-secret weapon: his cousin was state Representative Robert A. DeLeo — then chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee — whose district includes part of Revere.

Joe DeLeo’s immediate family donated $1,000 to Representative DeLeo’s campaign just weeks before he was fired from his Boston job on May 4, 2007. By May 18, Revere Mayor Thomas G. Ambrosino had hired Joe DeLeo, saying no one else applied for the job.

“It’s curious, and I’m sure it’s galling,’’ said Murphy. “These are highly coveted jobs, and we should always look for the best candidate . . . I didn’t think [Joe DeLeo] was an ideal candidate.’’

Ambrosino insists that Robert A. DeLeo, now speaker of the House, did not contact him about Joe DeLeo. The mayor said he was just following civil service procedures, which required him to give laid-off police officers the first chance. His office notified 29 laid-off Boston Municipal police officers about the job, he said, and Joe DeLeo was the only one who came to Revere to formally apply.

“It wasn’t a matter of me considering other candidates,’’ Ambrosino said in an interview. “We have one opening, there was one guy on the list, we’re hiring him.’’

But several laid-off police officers who were notified about the job said they would have applied — if they didn’t think the job was wired for DeLeo. Many of them were doing low-paying work as security guards while the Revere job paid DeLeo $71,000 in 2009.

“Even Joe knew who was going to get hired. It was like, ‘Don’t waste your time filling out a 22 to 30 page application,’ ’’ said former Boston Municipal police officer Ulric “Rick’’ Alfred Jr., who said he got a postcard notifying him about the Revere job but chose not to apply because Joe DeLeo had the inside track. Alfred is still looking for a police job almost four years later.

Speaker DeLeo declined to comment on his cousin. Joe DeLeo did not respond to three requests for comment.

DeLeo’s hiring hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing for the city. Revere police said DeLeo has been suspended from the force twice for disciplinary reasons. He has been banned from working security details at the local International House of Pancakes after an argument with another police officer in the parking lot. And the police chief of the town where Joe DeLeo lives, Mattapoisett, said she twice asked Revere Police Chief Terence Reardon to speak to DeLeo after neighbors complained to her that he was verbally harassing them.