Reading Massachusetts Education

The Anonymous Letter

Since February 2000, an anonymous letter has been circulating around the Town of Reading with the stated purpose of informing "the Town Manager, The Reading School Department, the Reading School Committee and the residents of the Town of Reading about the criminal behavior of the Town Electrician, (The Electrician) and the cover-up by Dr. Harry Harrutunian." The letter, addressed to (and received by) public officials and referenced at public meetings, is public information.

Quoting from the author of the letter...

"It has been brought to my attention that (The Electrician) has been engaging in illegal and criminal behavior for the two years that he has been employed by the town of Reading and the School Department. This has included working and driving while intoxicated on numerous, numerous occasions (as observed by employees of the school department), operating a town vehicle after license suspension of O.U.I. (indicated in his driving record) and most recently purchasing supplies for a side job performed at Dr. Harry Harrutunian's personal residence in Beverly, Massachusetts. In other words, (The Electrician) used the School Departments charge account for personal use.

This unacceptable behavior has been brought to the attention of the Superintendent and Director of Facilities as recently as February 28, 2000, and on other numerous occasions by various members of the school department and fellow employees' however, (The Electrician's) actions have been covered up by Dr. Harrutunian. Perhaps this is because of lack on concrete evidence. This time the evidence speaks for itself, School Department Purchase Order Number 207-750. Dr. Harrutunian is aware of this and has chosen to do nothing."

The letter continues...

"At this time when the School Department is appealing to the Town of Reading for an increase in the school budget, (The Electrician) is out spending budget money for personal use and Dr. Harrutunian is choosing to cover it up.

Not only is this unethical behavior for a town employee, it is a criminal offense and the proper action should be taken. At the same time let us question Dr. Harrutunian's ethics. If the Reading School Department can fund additional telephone outlets and cable outlets at his house, I would like a few myself."

The allegations against (The Electrician) and Superintendent Harutunian were not discussed in public until, at a May 24, 2000 school committee meeting, Town Meeting member Bill Brown inquired as to what actions had been taken to investigate them. At this time, Chairman Pete Dahl stated that the Reading police had "investigated" the issue, the School Committee was satisfied with the outcome and the discussion was over (see partial transcript of the videotaped conversation).

This is a significant departure from what was actually recorded in the official meeting minutes. Also left out of the official minutes was Mr. Brown's statement that Superintendent Harutunian had admitted to him and Mr. MacDonald "that in fact he did have work done at his home" and "did pay for it out his own (school) services."

No proof has ever been produced to suggest that Superintendent Harutunian reimbursed the Town of Reading for the work done on his home. (The Electrician) has since "resigned."

Why has this matter NOT been further investigated?


Please right-click, "Save Target As" to download the linked files on this page.

Download the anonymous letter [.pdf, 65.5 KB]

Compare the official School Committee meeting minutes with a transcript of the same videotaped conversation. Download the May 24, 2000 school committee minutes with partial transcript [.pdf, 72.5 KB]. Do these minutes at all reflect the intent and actual outcome of the conversation? Where is the substance of Chairman Dahl's comments? Shouldn't specific information about a school employee using taxpayer money to buy parts for a "side job" at the private residence of the superintendent have been taken a little more seriously?

Audio [.mp3, 2.17 MB] from the May 24, 2000 School Committee meeting. The audio differs slightly from the transcript (in the audio, Brown also refers to how he had told Pete Dahl about the anonymous letter at Town Meeting).

03/13/00 - Police Report of Investigation.[.pdf, 266 KB] - This heavily censored police report (page 3 is still unreleased), raises the possibility that (The Electrician) is more victim than criminal, a "sacrificial lamb" who took the fall for protected Reading school administrators and employees.

Why is (The Electrician's) name not blacked-out in this report? Where are the names of the other parties involved? Who is all of this censoring really supposed to protect?

Did other school employees and officials have work done on their homes or businesses at the Town's expense?

Were school employees pressured to do as their superiors directed, even if it broke the law, to retain their jobs?

Is (The Electrician) a scapegoat who simply outlived his usefulness?

Page 15: "(The Electrician) was then asked if he had XXXXXXXX 'side job' in mind when he made the purchase order, and picked up the stock. He stated that he probably did. (The Electrician) was then asked to review purchase order (207750). He was informed that our investigation showed that the telephone wire, and coaxial cable he purchased was normally used for residential, and not commercial projects. (The Electrician) stated that category wire and the heavier telephone wire recommended by the computer techs are not really necessary for the school projects. He stated that he often uses the lower grade wire because it saves money and works well. (The Electrician) was then asked if the ivory telephone and cable boxes and plates were could have been used at XXXXXXX residence. He stated that he could have used them. (The Electrician) was then asked that if we went into the schools, and examined the interactive TV projects would we find the materials on PO#207750? (The Electrician then stated, 'boy you guys are good.' He was then asked if the stock on the purchase order was installed in XXXXXXX. (The Electrician) then answered yes, 'I'm not going to lie about it.' He then admitted that he had made out the purchase order at Standard Electric for XXXXXXXX 'side job.' He further stated that XXXXXXXXX was with him at the time, and that he did make the statement to XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX."