FALL RIVER — The director of the city’s Department of Community Maintenance, who has been suspended pending an investigation since May 19, has resigned after signing an agreement with Mayor Paul Coogan’s administration.
John Perry, who has been a city employee for more than 20 years, severed his employment as head of DCM as of June 17, according to Coogan.
Coogan and Corporation Counsel Alan Rumsey said Perry, whose contract would have run out in mid-December, will receive his salary until the end of August along with vacation pay and other benefits he’s owed.
Perry was earning a salary of approximately $99,500 annually with a benefits package.
A term of Perry’s employment contract outlined that the DCM director could only be terminated by just cause, rather than serving at the will of the mayor.
For the apparent negotiations and the investigation that took place with the city before Perry resigned, he was represented by New Bedford-based attorney Philip N. Beauregard.
Fall River hires a private investigator
After Coogan confirmed in May that Perry was under suspension, an investigation conducted by a private investigator the administration hired was to last just two weeks City Administrator Seth Aitken told The Herald News at the time.
A report was to be generated with the private investigator’s findings.
In early June, over six weeks into the head of DCM’s suspension, there was still no official word on Perry’s status and the investigation.
The office of corporation counsel rejected an initial open records request seeking information surrounding the outcome of the investigation.
Aitken, at the time, said the probe has become “more broad and more complicated,” than the administration had originally planned.
Assistant Corporation Council Mary O’Neil issued a three-page denial letter on the open records request, citing a state statute that essentially exempts certain information in investigations that “the disclosure of which materials would be so prejudice the possibility of effective law enforcement that such disclosure would not be in the public interest.”
Since Perry’s resignation, The Herald News filed another open records request on Monday asking for the findings of the private investigation and the investigator’s report. The agreement between Perry and the administration is also included in the open records request.
By state open records law, the city has 10 business days to respond.
DCM reorganization pending
Before Perry’s suspension, the administration was working on a reorganization of DCM, the last of which had been done by former mayor Jasiel Correia II when he privatized the department’s sanitation division and made other changes.
The changes will have to be approved by the City Council and the proposed changes to the ordinance governing DCM are currently in the City Council Committee on Ordinances.
“I think we’ll get to complete the organization. We’d like to get the salaries adjusted appropriately across the board,” said Coogan. “The reorg and the ordinance is down with the council. The sooner we can get those done the sooner we can move forward.”
Jo C. Goode may be reached at email@example.com. Support local journalism and subscribe to The Herald News today!
This article originally appeared on The Herald News: Fall River DCM chief John Perry resigns after two-month investigation