Appeals Court Upholds Conviction of Boston District Chief

The Massachusetts Court of Appeals has upheld the 2016 conviction of a district chief from the Boston Fire Department. Edward Scigliano IV was convicted of five counts of larceny and procurement fraud. He was sentenced to three years of probation, 750 hours of community service, and ordered to pay restitution to the city.

Chief Scigliano appealed his conviction. As explained by the Court of Appeals in a ruling handed down today:

  • The defendant served as the drillmaster at the Boston Fire Department’s training academy from 2007 until 2012, during which time he was responsible for ordering apparatus and equipment for the fire academy and department.
  • In 2016, a Suffolk County Superior Court jury convicted the defendant of five counts each of larceny over $250 and procurement fraud based on evidence that he had used his position as drillmaster to manipulate vendors into (1) providing him goods for his personal use in addition to those purchased for the fire department by the city of Boston (city), and (2) reimbursing him for personal expenses using city funds.
  • The defendant appeals from his convictions, claiming that the indictments should be dismissed because Suffolk County is not the proper venue.
  • He also claims that he was denied a fair trial as a result of the prosecutors’ repeated efforts to introduce and repeated references to excluded evidence.

The court rejected both of his arguments. As for the venue issue, the court reasoned that Suffolk County was the appropriate county to bring the charges since that is where the City of Boston is located, and hence where the funds were stolen from.

As for the fair trial issue, the court concluded:

  • The only impermissible reference to excluded evidence came during the prosecutor’s closing argument: the aforementioned reference to bids with a certain vendor being “rigged” which was not the basis of an indictment.
  • Any harm that may have flowed to the defendant from this “isolated comment” was mitigated by the judge’s immediate and specific curative instruction, which the jury is presumed to have followed.

Here is a copy of the ruling:

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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