Thieving statesmen deserve no mercy in Massachusetts

Some state police troopers are a disgrace to the badge. (Nancy Lane/Boston Herald)

No matter how vile and greedy a career criminal you are, before your sentencing you can always find someone to write a letter to the judge attesting to your good, upstanding character and attesting to this series of unspeakable crimes you have committed , just a kind of tragedy was misunderstanding.

Just ask the thieving, disgraced ex-Mass. State Police Sgt. Bill Robertson, 62, was sentenced this week to three years in federal prison for conspiracy, theft from a federal program and four counts of mail fraud in the gigantic, years-long overtime dispute.

Judge, this is so unfair. He was a Boy Scout!

In 1995, he replaced a flat tire for a stranded driver on Route 9.

He once bought windshield wipers for his niece. He raked leaves for an elderly neighbor – and she had a big garden!

Judge, hasn't this poor man suffered enough? He was indicted in 2020 and has been collecting a $7,992-a-month tax-free federal kickback in the mail ever since.

Accusation, where is your sting? Ditto, conviction. And now that he's convicted…corrupt as he is, Robertson just keeps handing out taxpayer money because…professional courtesy.

I learned of Robertson's supposedly impeccable life by reading the tearful letters his sycophants sent to Judge Margaret Guzman.

Before reading this tearful testimony, I would first like to read the FBI's pre-sentence memo. The G-Men are, let's say, a little more tied to the facts.

Let's begin by describing how Robertson reacted when he realized that the government was on the heels of the massive overtime fraud in which he was a key conspirator.

Robertson took the hard files of incriminating documents – the 637, as they were called – to one of his henchmen.

“As the junior soldier testified in court,” U.S. Attorney Josh Levy wrote: “Sgt. Robertson hit him in the chest with a folder containing the 637s and shouted, 'Get rid of them!'”

Cut to his former sister-in-law's letter to the judge:

“I’ve never heard him scream or curse.”

Back to the accusation:

“In tears, the officer testified that he had stepped back, but Robertson continued and told him, 'Cut those (expletive) things!' Come on, shred them!'”

His daughter Gillian fondly remembered a trip he took with her to South Carolina as a teenager.

“As we continued our journey south, we heard music. My dad was always a big music fan.”

Strangely, however, the corrupt police officer never sang with Gillian to the Bobby Fuller Four's biggest hit:

“I fought against the law,” because the next line is “And the law prevailed.”

Of course, the convicted bully's spouse must write a tearful note to the judge. Susan, the felon's wife, says: “Bill is one who doesn't brag about his achievements.”

I wonder why. His only “success” was stealing $32,180 in taxpayer money and being sentenced to pay $142,774 in restitution for his role in the scheme of greedy police criminals.

But Mrs. Robertson tried to touch the judge's soul with this statement:

“As the wife of a police officer, there's always the fear in the back of your mind that you'll get 'the call'.”

We understand what it means…to most police departments. But this is the MSP whose motto is “Protect and Steal.” For the MSP spouse, “the call” is usually quite different:

“Mrs. Trooper, your husband is in prison in New Hampshire after being arrested for drunkenly beating his girlfriend…”

“Ma'am, your guy from the gang unit made a big fentanyl bust tonight and is now in the emergency room for a 'medical emergency…'.”

“Could be a problem – your husband just had his service weapon stolen from his unmarked patrol car in Providence while he was with his girlfriend, and here you are pregnant…”

“Your husband is in trouble because a reporter just found the police report at the courthouse about the incident in which he stuck your head in the unflushed toilet…”

“The G Men just sued your husband for covering the cost of a snow blower even though he made $331,000 a year…”

“Her husband was just arrested for using union money to take his waitress girlfriend on a weekend trip to their love nest in Miami…”

“Her husband was arrested for being drunk and exposing himself to some small children at a country music concert in Foxboro, and this was after he told a young man sitting next to him that he had a 'nice ass.' would have …”

“Hey, honey, Internal Affairs just opened an investigation into me – it's about those text messages where I told our friends to send the 'gift' to you and not to me after I hit the woman arrested the one they're trying to accuse – you know, the hot one I was looking for nude pictures online…”

“Someone just ratted out your partner because she was a former gang leader and went on record to admit to drug dealing, money laundering and lying to the grand jury – whereupon she was immediately hired by the state police because… state police.”

Again, we all understand “the call.” It's just that it seems inappropriate to wave that bloody shirt in the context of a law enforcement agency as irredeemably corrupt as the MSP. At least if you've been paying attention over the last few decades.

The pity game didn't work for Robertson, but his lawyers offered more plausible reasons for a sentence reduction. They mentioned the obvious – that the culture of corruption in the State Police was “clearly widespread,” which in itself was an understatement.

They pointed out that of the 11 state troopers found guilty among so many others in this single scandal, nine received no real prison time. The remaining two received no more than three months.

The memos reveal that Robertson started out as a police officer at the Met – apparently he was predisposed to crime. He was in the command of a governor – nothing good ever came from stationing police officers at the State House. You adopt too many bad habits.

But it's over now, although I'm sure Robertson will find ways to keep the big pension going at least for a while, if not forever.

The corrupt police officer's sister, Kristina, told the judge that her thieving brother was “truly a moral and upstanding man” who was “truly remorseful.”

Really? Really, we all want to see Bill behind bars for much longer than three years, along with all of his other corrupt comrades, including those who have not yet been charged. Really….

(Order Howie's new book, “Paper Boy: Read All About It!” at or

Anna Harden

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