Governor Deval Patrick announced a sweeping overhaul of the Parole Board yesterday, including the mass resignation of five board members, as he released a devastating review detailing the agency’s missteps in releasing a career criminal who killed a Woburn police officer last month.The eagerly awaited review by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security found numerous serious lapses in how the agency handled Domenic Cinelli’s 2008 application for parole, including the failure of employees to inform the board that Cinelli, while using an alias, had assaulted a Chelsea police officer in 1985.
The Parole Board did not make the appropriate notifications or apply the full legal standard when it voted 6-0 to release Cinelli, according to the eight-page critique, nor did parole officers provide the proper level of supervision when he was freed. The breakdown was particularly noticeable in the months leading to the fatal shooting of Woburn police Officer John Maguire.
“After this review, I cannot say that the Parole Board or parole office did all they could to ensure public safety,’’ Patrick said at a State House press conference. He added, “The public has lost confidence in parole, and I have lost confidence in parole.’’
Patrick had been under intense pressure from police chiefs, rank-and-file officers, and lawmakers to take action against the Parole Board since Cinelli fatally shot Maguire Dec. 26 outside a Kohl’s department store following a jewelry heist. Cinelli, 57, who was killed in the shootout, had been released after about 30 years in prison despite a violent history of armed robberies.
Charles Maguire, the brother of the slain officer and a retired probation officer, said he was “ecstatic’’ to learn of the shake-up. “For the governor to be this strong, I was very happy,’’ he said at a press conference at Woburn police headquarters.
The five current Parole Board members who participated in the vote to parole Cinelli resigned yesterday morning, including Patrick’s hand-picked chairman, Mark A. Conrad. Conrad is a retired Milton police officer who had been a volunteer aide to Patrick during his successful 2006 gubernatorial campaign.
The sixth person who participated in the vote has since left the board. The remaining position on the seven-member board was vacant at the time.
The governor’s public safety secretary, Mary E. Heffernan, and his chief of staff, William “Mo’’ Cowan, spoke with Conrad Wednesday and conveyed Patrick’s concerns about the lapses in the Cinelli case. Conrad then offered his resignation. Yesterday morning, Conrad spoke with the four other board members, who offered their own resignations.
None of the board members, who were paid $80,000 to $100,000 a year, could be reached for comment.