SALEM — A former member of the state Parole Board from Salem has filed suit against Gov. Deval Patrick and his former chief of staff, saying she was improperly forced out of her job in a highly publicized housecleaning that came weeks after a parolee shot and killed a Woburn police officer.
Pamela Lombardini was one of the Parole Board members who voted in 2008 to release Dominic Cinelli, the man who went on to shoot and kill Woburn police officer John Maguire on the day after Christmas 2010. Cinelli also died in the shoot-out with police.
Amid a public outcry over the decision to parole Cinelli, Patrick demanded the resignations of all six of the Parole Board members who had been on the panel that voted to release Cinelli in 2008.
Lombardini and her attorney, William Sheehan, contend in the suit that while waiting for a scheduled meeting in January 2011 with then Public Safety Secretary Mary Elizabeth Heffernan, a state trooper, who was carrying photos of the members, approached each of the board members, asked them to remain in their offices and then returned to ask if any were armed.
Lombardini said she was subsequently ushered by a trooper into a conference room with the other board members, where William “Mo” Cowan, Patrick’s then-chief of staff, stood at the head of the table and demanded that the members sign letters of resignation already drafted for them.
She also alleges that board members were threatened that if they did not sign the resignation letter, “it would get ugly.”
Lombardini’s suit claims that in the weeks between the shooting and her resignation, she “and other members of the board were assured repeatedly that they had the full support of the governor and the (Executive Office of Public Safety and Security), that they had done nothing wrong and that they had nothing to fear from the investigation.”