Stoneham Cop Has Called in Sick Since Investigation About Evictions, Unpaid Judgments

New documents reveal a message Detective Sgt. Robert Kennedy sent to the entire Stoneham Police Department prior to the publication of an NBC10 Boston investigation. After remaining tight-lipped for two weeks, town leaders also released their first statement to the public.

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On the morning of Jan. 26, Detective Sergeant Robert Kennedy stepped out of his truck and started walking toward the Stoneham Police Department.

When an NBC10 Boston crew approached the high-ranking officer to ask questions about his 20-year pattern of evictions and unpaid judgments, Kennedy reversed course and got back in the passenger seat of his vehicle.

The door closed as NBC10 Boston asked why the police officer had not been paying his rent, despite a steady six-figure salary. Kennedy's girlfriend drove the truck away without any answers.

About an hour later, according to an email the NBC10 Boston Investigators obtained, Kennedy sent a message to the entire police department:

"Dear fellow colleagues, but most importantly my friends," the email began. "It's with sheer embarrassment that I write this. In the next few hours or days, you will see a story in the media about me and some poor financial decisions. My family and my career I hold with the upmost respect and love. I ask that you be nonjudgmental and recognize my full ownership in this situation."

The following week, an NBC10 Boston investigation detailed how Kennedy and his girlfriend racked up more than $50,000 of unpaid rent, while being evicted from apartment complexes in Stoneham and Reading.

Over that three-year period, payroll records show Kennedy made more than a half-million as a police officer.

According to housing court records, the pattern stretched back two decades. An elderly couple had to kick Kennedy and his wife out of their Woburn property in 2008. They told NBC10 Boston they still haven't collected the $6,000 judgment they are owed.

"It was very disappointing to believe that a police officer would do something like that," Ron Gifford said.

Even after purchasing his parents' home in Stoneham with a modest mortgage of less than $2,000 per month, court records show Kennedy quickly fell $18,000 behind and he filed for bankruptcy in 2015.

"It's unusual if someone has the money to pay their monthly housing expense and they don't do it," bankruptcy attorney Frank Morrissey said after reviewing the case. "What's the explanation? Where did the income go?"

Since driving away from NBC10 Boston question on Jan. 26, payroll records we obtained show Kennedy has not returned to the police station. He has called in sick every day for the past three weeks.

Emails also reveal when NBC10 Boston contacted Kennedy to detail our findings and request an interview, the 23-year veteran of the department immediately initiated communication with the Stoneham Retirement System.

On Jan. 25 — the deadline we had given Kennedy to schedule an interview — he wrote to the town's retirement administrator.

"After great discussion with my family, I believe it's time for the next chapter and retire from the police department," Kennedy wrote. "What are my next steps?"

NBC10 Boston contacted the Stoneham Retirement System to inquire about Kennedy's retirement status and the amount of the taxpayer-funded pension he would receive. We are awaiting a response.

However, even after leaving the force, money questions will follow Kennedy. Perhaps the biggest one is how he and his girlfriend received $10,000 from the state’s rental assistance program.

As we previously reported, Kennedy's income is triple the amount eligible to qualify.

"We are overwhelmed right now, your honor," Kennedy responded when asked by a housing court judge last August if he and his girlfriend are indigent. "In one way, do I make money? Yes, I do sir. In another way, I can’t pay for everything on my plate right now."

Following the NBC10 Boston investigation, Stoneham Police Chief Jim McIntyre and Town Administrator Dennis Sheehan have remained tight-lipped and declined to answer any questions about Kennedy's situation.

On Wednesday night, the town leaders issued their first public statement on the Stoneham web site:

"We acknowledge the legitimate concerns of residents given the extent of the allegations that have unfolded. While the Town is limited in its ability to comment on ongoing personnel matters, both the Town and the Department will continue to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the integrity of the Department going forward. It is our belief that these limited instances are not an accurate reflection of our police officers as a whole, who are honest, hard-working civil servants committed to the safety and well-being of the community."

On Thursday, McIntyre told NBC10 that Kennedy's work status has not changed and the Town is continuing to investigate the situation.

This is the second high-profile incident involving a Stoneham police officer in the past year. Last April, Joseph Ponzo was federally indicted in a multi-million dollar bribery scheme to score lucrative contracts from the state's energy efficiency program.

Following his arrest, Ponzo resigned from the department and is awaiting trial.

In his original statement to NBC10 Boston, Kennedy asserted that his personal financial situation is "nobody's business."

However, NBC10 Boston legal analyst and dean of the Massachusetts School of Law Michael Coyne explained a string of evictions and unpaid judgments could present major problems for a police officer, especially when it comes to credibility in the courtroom.

"This isn't just the appearance of impropriety," Coyne said. "I think most people would find that it is likely grossly improper under the circumstances."

Ryan Kath can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.

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