Time lapse; Did Duggan get a deal?
In late October, former contractor Joseph T. Duggan III of Shrewsbury stood in a Worcester courtroom facing a two-year prison sentence for stealing thousands of dollars from a Worcester man in a home improvement scam.
But an $18,000 restitution check written at the last minute by his wealthy friend and patron, Commerce Bank & Trust Chairman David G. "Duddie" Massad, convinced the judge not to follow through with his stated intention of sentencing Mr. Duggan to two years in jail.
Satisfied that the victim got his money back, the judge instead sentenced Mr. Duggan to four months in the Worcester County Jail and House of Correction.
As it turned out, though, Mr. Duggan didn't have to serve even the shortened sentence - or anything close to it - despite a Sheriff's Department policy that appears to make him ineligible for the work-release program.
Several of Mr. Duggan's former customers and at least one veteran jail employee maintain he received preferential treatment because of his ties to Mr. Massad, one of the region's wealthiest men. However, Mr. Duggan denied being afforded any special treatment, and Worcester County Sheriff Guy W. Glodis said the former contractor's lack of time behind bars was a result of state budget cuts and jail overcrowding, not his ties to Mr. Massad.
What's not in dispute is that Mr. Duggan was placed in the work-release program immediately after surrendering to the West Boylston jail Oct. 29. That placement was made despite a departmental policy that had been approved by the sheriff less than two weeks earlier.
The inmate classification policy approved by Mr. Glodis Oct. 19 clearly states that to be eligible for the work-release program an inmate may not have any "warrants or cases pending before any court."
Mr. Duggan has two criminal cases pending in Westboro District Court. He is scheduled to be tried March 2 on charges that include abandoning or failing to perform a contract, making material misrepresentations in the procurement of a contract and failing to obtain a building permit.
Despite the work-release policy, a spokesman for Mr. Glodis said the rule has been interpreted by jail staff not to apply to criminal cases in which the defendant was released on personal recognizance while awaiting trial.
Mr. Duggan was allowed to leave the jail to do construction work for Mr. Massad one day after he arrived to begin his sentence.
For the next two months, Mr. Duggan signed out of the jail about 6 o'clock every morning except Sundays. He didn't return most days until after 8 p.m., according to prisoner movement logs obtained by the Telegram & Gazette. Mr. Duggan didn't return to the jail until after 9:30 p.m. on two occasions in November, the logs show.
The state law authorizing sheriffs to establish work-release programs requires that inmates be permitted to leave confinement only "during necessary and reasonable hours for the purpose of working at gainful employment."
In a telephone interview, Mr. Duggan denied that he received any special treatment from the sheriff and angrily denounced his accusers, jail guards, state regulators, the Shrewsbury building inspector and a Shrewsbury police detective who investigated him.
"I didn't get away with nothing at that jail," Mr. Duggan said. "I was working."
On Dec. 21, halfway through his four-month sentence, Mr. Duggan no longer had to return to the jail at all because he was placed on an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet, according to the records.
The ex-contractor's sentence ended Feb. 7, cut short by a week for good behavior.
Mr. Duggan spent just eight complete days in jail during his four-month sentence.
Mr. Duggan's former customers, some of whom still are struggling to recover financially five years after they hired him, said they are disgusted by the treatment he got from the jail - but not surprised given his connections.
"I truly believe it's his relationship with Duddie Massad, and Duddie Massad's relationship with Guy Glodis. I truly believe that," said Robin LaPorta of Shrewsbury.
Mrs. LaPorta was left with a leaky and unfinished addition when Mr. Duggan walked away from the job after spending the $50,000 she and her husband, Brian, had borrowed for the project. As with other customers, Mr. Duggan instructed the couple to make out checks to a building supply company that it was later revealed did not exist. He cashed those checks at a check cashing store in Worcester, according to police.
Mr. Duggan said he does not know the sheriff.
"I don't know what Duddie does with him. I have no idea. All I know is that I'm going to work building buildings," he said.
Mr. Glodis worked as a business development officer for Mr. Massad's Commerce Bank for about 18 months in 2005 before taking over as sheriff. Mr. Massad and his family have given at least $3,500 to Mr. Glodis' campaigns over the last five years, according to the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance.
In the May 2008 federal trial of Mr. Massad's former investment adviser, Amit Mathur, a stockbroker testified that among the payments he made on instructions from Mr. Mathur was a $20,000 check payable to Mr. Glodis. Later in the trial, Mr. Massad testified that he had lunch with Mr. Glodis, Mr. Mathur and the stockbroker during a trip to the 2003 Super Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
A spokesman for Mr. Glodis characterized the $20,000 payment as a loan, adding that it was disclosed to ethics regulators at the time and repaid over two years.
Mr. Massad did not return calls to his bank office or his cell phone. Mr. Duggan, who previously served four years in federal prison for bank fraud and money laundering, listed the bank chairman's cell phone number as his emergency contact on his jail inmate booking information sheet.
Mr. Glodis, a candidate for state auditor, said it's not unusual for work-release inmates to be out of the jail for eight to
10 hours a day or more. Asked why Mr. Duggan's construction work necessitated him to be out of the jail from dawn to well after dark six days a week, the sheriff said it was his understanding that Mr. Duggan was supervising a job site.
Mr. Glodis declined to answer specific questions about Mr. Duggan's work-release privileges, saying only that Mr. Duggan qualified for the program as a nonviolent offender who is not a sex offender and who was not convicted of drug offenses.
"I'm not going to discriminate against somebody just because they are high-profile," Mr. Glodis said.
His former jail superintendent, Jeffrey R. Turco, a lawyer now acting as a spokesman and campaign strategist for Mr. Glodis, said the sheriff had no role in assigning Mr. Duggan to the work-release or electronic-monitoring programs.
Mr. Turco said the employee who made the classification decision could not discuss the specifics of his decision publicly because of state privacy laws.
"The decision with respect to this individual would have been handled by the classification professionals in the department," Mr. Turco said.
That account is disputed by a Worcester County correction officer familiar with the situation, who asked that he not be identified by name because he could be disciplined for speaking to the media without authorization.
"He definitely received preferential treatment," the veteran officer said of Mr. Duggan. "This has been common knowledge among the staff since Duggan was first placed in work release. Ranking officers informed Glodis that Duggan was not qualified for work release. He told them to do what they were told."
Mr. Turco said state budget cuts that forced the jail to close a minimum-security building at the already overcrowded facility left the sheriff with no choice but to release more nonviolent inmates on work release and electronic monitoring.
"Three corrections officers that work in the work-release program go and check the work sites and do spot checks and make sure inmates are where they are supposed to be and doing what they are supposed to be doing," Mr. Turco said.
But that's little comfort to Mr. Duggan's former customers.
The victim in the case for which Mr. Duggan was sentenced to jail, Warren M. Keith, 70, of Circuit Avenue, had grumbled about the short sentence at the time it was imposed. But Mr. Keith said he was relieved to get his money back and pleased that the man who made off with it - and left him with a gaping hole in his yard for years - at least would have to cool his heels in jail for four months.
He was angered to learn this month that Mr. Duggan spent just eight full days in jail during his entire sentence.
"He was supposed to go to jail for four months," Mr. Keith said.
"But what can you do? If you got pull, you can get away with stuff. I'm mad about it. Sure I am. But what can I do? I'm just a little guy."
Patrick Barry of Holden, who had to move in with relatives when Mr. Duggan left his house gutted after walking away from a project to add a second story, expressed a similar sentiment.
"It's frustrating. But it doesn't surprise me at all. He's been getting away with everything from the beginning," Mr. Barry said.
Added Mrs. LaPorta: "Four months, to me, was not enough. It was like a slap on the wrist."
She said she was left reeling after learning that Mr. Duggan actually spent just two months in jail, and that he passed more than 14 hours a day on the outside during that period.
"It feels like I'm being punched in my gut over and over again. That's what that feels like," Ms. LaPorta said.
Inmates on work release are required to contribute $10 a day to the cost of their incarceration, and the state law authorizing the program also allows sheriffs to dock inmates' earnings to pay child support, restitution to victims and some other debts.
None of the money Mr. Duggan earned while on work release went to pay off the hefty state fines he owes, officials said.
Amid a slew of complaints to state building regulators from local families, Mr. Duggan was forced to surrender his various contractor licenses in October 2005. He was fined more than $48,000 for various environmental and construction violations - fines
that have ballooned to more than $118,000 after four years of interest and penalties.
Spokesmen for the state Department of Environmental Protection and state Executive Office of Public Safety said Mr. Duggan hasn't made any payments on the fines and that they have been turned over, respectively, to a private collection agency and the state attorney general's office for further action.
For his part, Mr. Duggan disputed that he violated any environmental laws or construction regulations.
"I'm not paying one cent for any fines," he said. "Tell the DEP to kiss my ass."
"What does it take?" a bewildered Mrs. LaPorta asked. "This man owes the government all this money, and he can walk around free as a bird to do what he does over and over again. How can they let him get away with it?"
Contact Thomas Caywood at email@example.com.
ART: PHOTOS; CHART
CUTLINE: (1) Warren M. Keith, standing in front of his Worcester home, holds a picture of his house showing the incomplete work left by contractor Joseph T. Duggan III. (2) Joseph T. Duggan III (3) David G. "Duddie" Massad (4) Sheriff Guy W. Glodis (CHART) Tracking Duggan's time on work release
PHOTOG: (1) T&G Staff/PAUL KAPTEYN (CHART) T&G Staff/DON LANDGREN JR.