‘They Took the Nuclear Option': Ex-Police Chief Breaks Silence on FBI Investigation That Divided Boxboro

Earlier this month, Warren Ryder resigned from the Boxboro Police Department in exchange for a six-figure settlement. Following that development, the former top cop spoke publicly for the first time about spending more than a year on paid administrative leave while the cloud of an FBI investigation divided the community.

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While sitting in the living room of his home, Warren Ryder broke his silence after spending more than a year on paid administrative leave as the police chief in Boxboro, Massachusetts.

As we reported earlier this month, Ryder resigned from his post in exchange for a six-figure settlement with the town.



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Following that development, the former top cop spoke publicly for the first time about being under the cloud of an FBI investigation that divided the community.

“This is my one opportunity to set the air straight,” Ryder said. “As much as I just wanted to move on, it’s important that I get my side of the story.”

The chief of the Boxboro Police Department, who has been on paid administrative leave for over a year, has reached a settlement to resign.

The controversy for the former police chief began when payroll discrepancies within his department came to light two years ago.

It turned out that several officers were getting more money for higher education degrees, even though they didn’t have the required diplomas. Ryder’s former administrative assistant was the whistleblower in the case who sent a stack of documents and allegations to town leaders.

We asked Ryder if he intentionally allowed some of his police officers to get educational incentives they had not earned.

“Absolutely not,” he responded. “There’s no way you could rightfully risk your whole career to commit a crime. It’s ludicrous.”

During a lengthy presentation at a Select Board meeting in October 2021, Ryder explained how the mistake happened, how it would be corrected, and how the four officers paid back the roughly $12,000 to town coffers.

However, not satisfied with the explanation, the Select Board took the surprising vote of asking the FBI’s Public Corruption Unit to come to town and investigate.

“I think that kind of investigation will give people confidence in this town that everything has been looked at thoroughly and completely by investigators,” Select Board member Diana Lipari said at the meeting.

We asked Ryder about his reaction when the 3-2 vote passed.

“Initially, I thought it was almost humorous,” he said. “An FBI investigation into a $12,000 payroll error that was discovered, corrected, and a process was put in place to make sure it never happened again?”

But then Ryder said his tone changed as he started to consider the implications.

“I said, ‘Wait a minute.’ Now I’m a police chief supposedly under investigation by the FBI. That’s kind of a stink you’re going to carry around, whether it’s true or not.”

Elected leaders will decide if longtime Boxboro Police Chief Warren Ryder, who has been paid to stay at home for more than a year, should be fired.

In January 2022, town leaders sent the police chief home on paid administrative leave, starting the clock on a lengthy wait for Ryder and residents.

The controversy divided the town, with residents displaying opposing lawn signs to share their views.

While the police chief continued to collect his $161,000 salary, taxpayers also shelled out another six-figure paycheck for someone else to fill the important public safety role in his place.

We asked Ryder how he believes town leaders handled the situation.

“Horribly,” he responded. “I got paid for 458 days. So put that salary in a bucket. And then you think they had to hire someone to replace him. Put that in a bucket. Then you look at how much the town spent on legal fees. Put that in a bucket.”

In a statement posted to the town website, the Select Board said it would be providing a “full accounting of all the monies spent in connection with this issue to taxpayers as soon as possible.”

On Thursday, Town Administrator Michael Johns told us he hoped to have that figure by the end of the first week of May.

At the beginning of the year, Ryder’s attorney received word the US Attorney’s Office would not be pursuing an indictment against his client. Johns said he received a similar message when he called the Department of Justice to confirm.

Upon learning the news, Ryder posted on social media, writing on LinkedIn that “exoneration has been delivered.”

Warren Ryder, the chief of the Boxborough Police Department who has been on leave as the FBI looked into alleged payroll irregularities, says he has learned he will not face a criminal indictment.

“They took the nuclear option on this,” Ryder said. “They went as far down the road as they could possibly go and hit the button. And the problem with that is when you go that far, you can’t roll it back.”

However, the ordeal was not over. That’s because town leaders had also hired a private investigator to look into a handful of administrative allegations against Ryder, including his role in the payroll discrepancies.

The town has now posted a copy of the report, along with more than a dozen exhibits, to its website. According to the documents, the private investigator did not find evidence to sustain a majority of the allegations.

In the posted online statement, the Select Board said they could not speak about the allegations publicly because they were considered private personnel matters, but did also provide a timeline of the steps they took after first learning of the allegations.

We asked Ryder if any of the details in the report amounted to a fireable offense.

“Absolutely not,” he responded.

Residents of Boxboro are demanding answers and transparency from their town.

In March, we reported how the Select Board planned to hold a termination hearing behind closed doors.

Ryder initially told us he would request the hearing be open to the public. However, he and town leaders eventually reached the roughly $135,000 settlement, abruptly ending his 25-year career in Boxborough.

“The Select Board realizes that this issue has been divisive for Town residents but we hope that all parties in the Town can come together now and move on,” read the online statement following the settlement agreement.

In a fitting conclusion, Ryder’s severance check bounced when he cashed it at the bank. That issue has since been corrected and the Town recently swore in a new police chief.

So why didn’t he decide to have the public hearing and fight the allegations?

“Did I want to continue the battle?” Ryder asked. “Did I want to spend more money on attorneys? Or do I want to move on with my life? Hopefully, the community can start to rebuild what it needs to fix and mend some fences.”

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

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