Fired Pittsfield Police Officer Jeffrey Coco to appeal termination
PITTSFIELD — Fired city police Officer Jeffrey Coco intends to appeal his dismissal over the alleged theft of union funds, according to an attorney representing him.
"We will be following the appropriate channels to appeal his termination," said Lori Levinson, a defense attorney from Great Barrington who represents the former officer and union local president.
Coco was fired last week after an Internal Affairs Department investigation and a local Civil Service hearing found he was "responsible for multiple misconduct charges," said Police Chief Michael Wynn, who announced the dismissal on Monday.
The investigation during the summer found evidence that Coco had stolen "in excess of $150,000" in union funds while serving as the president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers (IBPO) Local 447 at the Pittsfield Police Department.
The chief has declined to comment on possible criminal charges.
Coco was unavailable for comment Wednesday. Asked whether he will deny the allegations, Levinson said there would be no comment at this time.
She said, however, that Coco wants to say through her that no one else among his family or friends is a target of the police investigation.
"As far as we know, based on my understanding, no friends or family members have been implicated in any alleged wrongdoing," Levinson said.
Wynn announced in mid-July that Coco had been placed on administrative leave after the regional union office in Springfield reported possible problems with Local 447 and Local 447S (for superior officers) accounts. He said that, in addition to an internal investigation, the Massachusetts State Police Detective Unit of the Berkshire District Attorney's Office was asked for assistance.
The District Attorney's Office does not comment during an active investigation on the possibility of charges.
In his Internal Affairs report on the matter, filed with the chief on Sept. 8, Lt. Michael Grady stated in part, "The facts and circumstances of my internal affairs investigation show that Officer Coco committed larceny over $250 by a single scheme during the time he was a member of the IBPO (International Brotherhood of Police Officers) Local 447 Executive Board (2011-2015)."
Grady added, "Although the total monetary amounts are not available at this time, a preliminary tally shows that Officer Coco has stolen in excess of $150,000 from the union."
He reported that the investigation findings support allegations that Coco violated department regulations barring conduct unbecoming an officer and involvement in criminal activity.
Levinson also represents former Lee Police Chief Joseph Buffis, who was accused of stealing about $120,000 from a toy fund he operated and coercing a couple facing pending prostitution charges into donating $4,000 to that fund.
Buffis was acquitted in U.S. District Court in June on money laundering and wire fraud charges, but he was convicted of extortion. He was scheduled to be sentenced next week, but that has been postponed for at least a month.
Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247.
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