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Campus Police Officer Receives Suspension for Suspicious Acts

Marcus White Living Room
Marcus White Living Room

By Acadia Otlowski

An on- duty CCSU police officer was suspended for one day last semester after he was found in a locked room with the lights out with a 19-year-old student worker. The officer then gave a ride to the student worker without reporting the transport.

Officer Joseph Magarolas was the subject of a complaint made by a student worker after she stumbled across them in a darkened room with another student worker during his shift. Magarolas did not report a walkthrough of the building.

Magarolas then gave the student worker a ride to her car in Manafort Lot. The officer was punished for conduct unbecoming of an officer and having an unauthorized person in a police vehicle. It was not Magarolas’ first offense; he has been cited in the past for similar allegations.

The Recorder exclusively obtained Magarolas’ disciplinary records for the Fall 2013 semester through a Freedom of Information request. The first request was initially denied illegally by the university, which said that the records fell under “FOIA’s preliminary drafts and notes exemption since it is part of a pending labor grievance.” The second request was fulfilled by the university.

The names and places of employment of the student workers involved were redacted from the records.

Former Interim Police Chief Chris Cervoni authorized an investigation of the event following a complaint made by the student worker.

Cervoni has not responded to requests for comment.

Chief Administrative Officer, Richard Bachoo, who is ranked above the police chief, declined comment, claiming he cannot speak on personnel issues.

According to the letter written on Oct. 30, 2013 and revised on Nov. 1, 2013, Magarolas had been in trouble in the past.

“You had been counseled in the past on several occasions by a supervisor about having female students in the cruiser with you without logging it into the CAD,” said the report, written by Louis Pisano, chief human resource officer. “Officer Magarolas, this type of behavior is unacceptable and must not reoccur…Continued such behavior shall result in further discipline up to and including your dismissal from employment at Central Connecticut State University.”

The worker who made the complaint was responsible for closing and opening rooms throughout campus. This is what she was doing the night of Sept. 17, 2013 at around 9 p.m. In an internal investigation report, it is said that, “Susan Kelly called to inform this officer that one of her student workers, [name redacted] was outside of Marcus White and noticed that the lights were off in the living room.”

Susan Kelly runs Events Management, according to the Events Management website, meaning that the student worker who witnessed the police officer’s misconduct is also from Events Management.

According to the interview with Lt. Edward Dercole, who conducted an investigation following the incident, the Events Management worker went to investigate and noticed that Marcus White Living Room was locked. She said she fumbled with one key, realized it was the wrong one, and found the correct key. When the student opened the door, she heard a voice say “hi there.” She screamed and turned on the lights. When the lights were on, the student worker saw Magarolas standing there.

The Events Management worker said she walked by the officer to rearrange some chairs and turn of a fan. It was then that she noticed another student worker, who she recognized from a different department, laying on a couch. She was not in her work uniform, the student worker who made the complaint noted.

The student worker from Events Management said that she was in the room for a total of two minutes and left after rearranging the chairs because she was very uncomfortable.

Dercole also interviewed the student worker who was in the room with Magarolas.

“I asked [name redacted] if she was sitting in Marcus White’s living room with the lights off and the door locked with Officer Magarolas. [Name redacted] became very nervous and said nothing happened,” said Dercole’s interview contained in his investigation of the matter.

She said that she entered Marcus White Living Room at around 6:30 p.m. to study on Sept. 17. At around 8:30 or 8:40 p.m., the student worker said she turned off the lights to take a break. When initially asked how Magarolas knew she was in Marcus White Living Room, the student worker said she had no idea.

In the report, when the student was asked if he had her number she said, “No, why would he?”

After repeated questioning, the student worker admitted to Dercole that Magarolas had her cell phone number and called her around 6:30 p.m. from an unknown number. According to Dercole’s report, Magarolas asked what she was up to. The student worker said that she told the officer that the she would be reading on the second floor.

Magarolas arrived at Marcus White Living Room at around 9 p.m., said the student worker. She said she sat up and crossed her legs when he arrived and he sat down next to her, putting his keys on the table. The student worker said that five minutes passed before Magarolas stood up and looked towards the door. Then the student worker from Events Management walked into the room.

The student worker from Events Management left after moving around some chairs. The student worker, who was in the room with Magarolas, said that they had met on several other occasions in an old office in DiLoreto Hall to watch hockey. The student worker said that she had seen other officers spending time in the same office.

After five to 10 minutes, Magarolas drove the student worker who was in the room with him to Manafort Lot, without reporting that he had someone else in the vehicle.

Magarolas was also interviewed by Dercole.

“I asked Officer Magarolas if he was doing anything inappropriate and he said not at all they were just friends,” said Dercole in his report.

Magarolas waved his right to a union representative initially, but later appealed his punishment.

Initially, in a letter written on Oct. 30 and revised on Nov. 1, 2013, Magarolas was set to serve a three day penalty that was separated throughout the month of November and one day in early December, according to the “Notice of Three (3) Day Suspension” in the records.

Magarolas’ union representative appealed the punishment, causing Magarolas’ sentence to be reduced to a one day sentence.

Pisano said that there is no standard punishment for offenses by officers.

“All determinations are made based on a number of factors including the overall service record, previous discussions on such matters with the officer etc. …Disciplinary recommendations are developed by HR in conjunction with the leadership team of the department,” said Pisano in an email.