The police chief in a working-class Connecticut city where four officers have been charged with tyrannizing Latino residents and using excessive force against illegal immigrants is retiring from office, his attorney said Monday.
Leonard Gallo had been suspended as chief of the East Haven Police Department in April 2010 after the FBI launched the criminal investigation, but he was reinstated to the post in November after his friend Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. took office.
Gallo apparently has been referred to as an unnamed co-conspirator in the federal indictment, accused of blocking efforts by the police commission to investigate misconduct. His attorney, Jon Einhorn, has denied the allegations.
The retirement will take effect on Feb. 10, Einhorn said. A news conference on the retirement is planned for later Monday and Einhorn declined to comment further.
The four officers, who were arrested Jan. 24 by the FBI, are charged with waging a campaign against Latino residents that included beatings, false arrests and harassment of those who threatened to report misconduct. They have all pleaded not guilty.
Frederick Brow, chairman of the town's police commission, said Monday that the commission was preparing to vote Tuesday night on whether to recommend to the mayor that Gallo be fired. He said he believes Gallo should be dismissed.
"It's been a general breakdown in control in that department for quite a while and it's time for Gallo to be terminated," Brow said.
The FBI also is targeting additional suspects, and state officials say they are preparing for the possibility of widespread arrests that could cripple the town's police department.
An investigation by the U.S. Justice Department's civil rights division, which was separate from the criminal probe, noted concerns in a December report that Gallo had helped created a hostile environment for people who cooperated with federal investigators. It said Gallo had warned staff that the Justice Department had agreed to provide him with the names of individuals who cooperated with the investigation, even though that was not the case.
Maturo is also facing heavy criticism for saying last week that he "might have tacos" as a way to do something for the Latino community. He later apologized for the remark.
More than 15,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Maturo to replace Gallo. The petition was started by Reform Immigration for America, the same group that sent hundreds of tacos to Maturo's office to protest his remark that he would eat tacos as a way of doing something for the Hispanic community.
Maturo was mayor from 1997 to 2007 and was re-elected again in the fall. After taking office in November, he reinstated Gallo, saying at the time that he did not believe the abuse allegations were true. The previous mayor, April Capone Almon, placed Gallo on administrative leave in April 2010.
The New York FBI office has established an email address and tipline seeking help with the investigation of alleged civil rights violations by East Haven Police. The email address is email@example.com and the tipline is 212-384-1000.