Former Lowell Cop Cleared in Community College Training Probe

October 19, 2018 GMT

HAVERHILL -- Shortly after former Lowell police officer resigned from his post running the police academy at Northern Essex Community College in August under a cloud of controversy, the school began investigating an allegation that Fleming improperly held onto weekly cash dues from recruits without documenting how the money was spent.

Two months later, an investigation by the Haverhill Police Department concluded that was not the case, NECC announced in a Friday statement.

“The collection of dues from recruits by their academy class officers was consistent with similar practices at the other Massachusetts police academies,” NECC wrote in the statement, provided to The Sun by spokesperson Ernie Greenslade. “The department found no evidence that the dues were subject to misuse or misappropriation by either the class officers or academy staff.”

In early August, Fleming, then director of NECC’s police academy, paid a $5,000 state fine for recommending the school purchase equipment for recruits from Lowell’s All Sports Heroes, where he worked part-time. His actions violated the state’s conflict-of-interest law. Fleming resigned from the school several weeks later.

Later in August, Cynthia Martinez of Haverhill, a former cadet from NECC’s academy, told The Eagle-Tribune that she had concerns about how Fleming handled tens of thousands of dollars in class dues that she collected. Martinez said at the time that, as treasurer of the class, she gave about $11,000 worth of dues to academy staff but that Fleming only discussed how $4,000 was spent and did not provide any other accounting documentation.

“I asked numerous times about the invoices,” Martinez told The Eagle-Tribune. “Nothing was provided to me. I asked Fleming, ‘When will I get proof of what the class dues are being spent on?’ There was no accounting.”

After Martinez’s comments were published, NECC announced it was investigating her allegations.

On Friday, the school said in a statement that police could find no evidence of wrongdoing with regard to class dues. However, NECC plans to implement new practices in the future, including a requirement that dues be deposited in a college account and managed in the same way that other student organization accounts are.

“We are proud of the academy, the quality of the training we are providing the state’s future police officers, and the service and accessibility we are able to deliver to the police departments in our local cities and towns,” NECC said in its statement.

In 2014, Fleming retired after three decades in the Lowell Police Department amid a promotion exam scandal and using a prohibited electronic device during the test.

Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisLisinski.