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City Cuts Ties with Former Cop Over Stolen Gun Case

February 14, 2019 GMT

LOWELL -- The city has abruptly terminated its business relationship with a retired police officer because he would not be a witness in a high-profile stolen-gun case.

The city severed ties late last month with Michael Miles, a Dracut resident who has been the Police Department’s intervention officer since August 2015, several months after he retired on a $58,168 annual pension.

City Manager Eileen Donoghue declined to comment, except to say, “Mr. Miles is no longer employed by the city.”

Since his appointment, Miles has been paid nearly $71,000, city records show.

Last month, The Sun reported that the criminal cases against three Lowell juveniles charged in June 2018 with stealing a handgun belonging to Miles were dismissed in December month because Miles made it clear he would not be a witness for the prosecution.

Miles never did actually exercise his 5th Amendment rights because he was never summonsed. The 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” But his lawyer, Scott Bratton, said Miles would have done just that had he been hauled into court, and the prosecution was well aware of that, Bratton said.

The court disposition was confirmed by Carrie Kimball-Monahan, a spokeswoman for Essex County District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett.

The cases were moved to the Juvenile Court session in Lawrence, in Essex County, due to a “conflict” that precluded the cases from being heard in the Lowell juvenile session.

According to sources, one of the juveniles is related to Lowell Juvenile Court clerk-magistrate Elizabeth Sheehy, prompting the change of venue to Lawrence.

The judge on the case was Mark Newman.

The theft occurred June 5, 2018, and was reported to police the next day. According to police, the .38-caliber gun was in a locked motor vehicle belonging to Miles that was parked outside the home of a Belvidere resident he was visiting.

The suspects had been charged with possession of a large-capacity firearm. One of the three suspects faced two additional charges: larceny of a firearm and possession of ammunition without an FID card. At the time of the alleged offense, two of the suspects were 15 and the other 16.

The handgun has never been found.

Police Superintendent Kelly Richardson said he is troubled that a former police officer wouldn’t assist in the case, because one of the department’s objectives has been confiscating handguns. Richardson declined further comment.

According to department records, officers confiscated 63 firearms in 2016 and 57 in 2017. The 2018 number is not yet available.

Richardson also said the city needs a female intervention officer to meet with female officers who might not feel comfortable meeting with a man.

Miles was hired as the intervention officer by then-City Manager Kevin Murphy in August 2015. According to city human -resources records, the position was posted for two weeks. Seven people applied for the position that “provides multi-services on peer counseling, assistance for substance abuse and addiction, referral assistance and information for behavior and mental health issues for employees and family members.”

When Miles, a former Dracut School Committee member, retired from the Police Department in April 2015, hundreds packed his retirement party at the Four Oaks Country Club in Dracut. Supporters and former colleagues applauded Miles for his work in helping others with substance-abuse issues. Miles used his own experience as a recovering alcoholic and drug abuser to revive his police career and later become a mental-health and abuse counselor.