A high-ranking Massachusetts Department of Correction official in charge of all DOC security equipment was terminated in April for using department resources to conduct an extramarital affair during work hours and giving his girlfriend at least 1,500 rounds of ammunition and weapon accessories from the departmental inventory that he oversaw.
Raymond Turcotte was removed from his position as director of operational services after DOC investigators found that he frequently skipped work and used his state-issued phone to exchange sexually explicit messages with his girlfriend, and also improperly approved $100,000 worth of overtime pay for his team, according to documents obtained by GBH News.
As director of operational services, his responsibilities included signing off on weapons requests, purchasing all weapons for the DOC’s armory, documenting test firing of weapons and testing and procuring body cameras to be worn by department officials.
The state launched an investigation after Commissioner Carol Mici received several emails in January from a citizen alleging Turcotte’s misconduct, according to an internal DOC report.
“Your behavior, described in these charges, is that of an employee who felt invincible and capable of avoiding any form of culpability due to your status within the Department,” Mici wrote to Turcotte in April. “I find that your flagrant disregard for your duties and responsibilities reflects poorly on the Department and cannot be condoned.”
Turcotte, who had worked for the department for over 30 years, was put on paid leave in January before his termination in April. State payroll records show he received a $112,994 severance package this year.
“The DOC investigates every allegation of staff misconduct brought to its attention and takes appropriate administrative action up to and including termination,” a DOC spokesperson said in a statement to GBH News. “The DOC requires all personnel as part of their duties to uphold the highest standards of respect, security, care.”
The investigation found Turcotte provided his girlfriend with a total of 1,500 rounds of ammunition used in handguns and semi-automatic assault rifles. He also provided her with a police style utility belt with accessories.
According to the department’s disciplinary report, Turcotte stepped away from the office more than once to visit his girlfriend at hotels, attend doctor’s appointments and run other personal errands, all using his work vehicle and phone. He frequently left his 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. job early, showed up late and attended to personal errands during work hours, mostly using his state-issued vehicle to drive friends and family.
His disregard for policy “is even more troubling,” the department’s disciplinary report said, because he was responsible for ensuring department personnel complete the required forms for taking vehicles home.
In addition, Turcotte approved $100,000 in overtime for personnel teaching at the Bridge Academy, a law enforcement firearm training program in Randolph. The program is taught only by DOC employees via a contract with the Municipal Police Training Committee.
Turcotte and his boss, Charles Primack, both worked as instructors and allowed “a number of other DOC officers” to receive DOC overtime pay rather than hourly pay provided through the contract with the training committee, the department concluded.
Turcotte also falsified his own hours, clocking in as an instructor at the Bridge Academy while the investigation showed he was actually at a Holiday Inn and Suites in Marlborough.
At the time, Primack was the assistant deputy commissioner of field services, but he was demoted to lieutenant in April for “failing to even minimally supervise” Turcotte’s authorization of the overtime, DOC disciplinary records said. Mici wrote in the letter demoting him that Primack was aware of the mismanagement of overtime.
Neither Primack nor Turcotte responded to multiple efforts by GBH News to contact them for comment on this story.
James Keown, currently incarcerated at the state prison in Shirley, told GBH News that prisoners knew items in the armory were missing — and that Turcotte, who’s responsible for maintaining them, was involved.
“We look around, and we see the people who are supposed to be modeling the behavior we’re supposed to be following picking and choosing what regulations they want to follow,” he wrote to GBH News in an email transmitted through an inmate computer system. “These acts not only demoralize those people who are striving to improve themselves, but they also destabilize the prison making the space more unsafe for residents, staff, volunteers, and visitors.
“Nobody wants safe spaces inside the DOC more than incarcerated people,” Keown added.
State Sen. William Brownsberger said this misconduct and other “controversial issues” within the department show the need for more independent oversight. He and other legislators introduced a bill earlier this year that would establish a correctional inspector general office.
Brownsberger said that incidents in correctional facilities often generate “two very different perspectives” — one from prisoners and their advocates, and another from correctional officers. But there are “no neutral parties” that are able “to really shine a light on what’s going on.”
“I believe that we need someone who is a neutral observer who has the power to see into the system,” Brownsberger said. “This would be designed to get much more visibility into controversial issues within the correctional system.”
Lindsay Shachnow and Cassandra Dumay are Boston University student journalists and Molly Farrar is a recent graduate. This story emerged from a collaboration with GBH News, rooted in their work with BU’s Spark! Justice Media co-Lab that investigates Massachusetts courts and prisons with assistance from professor Brooke Williams.