HINGHAM— On Wednesday, Nov. 14, Edward and Christine Savage, of Plympton, came before Judge Heather Bradley in Hingham District Court for a hearing on a shoplifting case stemming from an incident at Kohl’s Department Store, 100 Derby St., Hingham in April 2017.
The Savages reached an agreement with Assistant District Attorney Frances Cannone, and Judge Bradley agreed to it, continuing the matter without a finding for six months with the condition that the Savages stay out of criminal trouble and stay away from Kohl’s at the Derby Street Shops.
The Savages were represented by Daniel Webster, a Pembroke-based attorney and former state representative.
A court official said the sentence is typical for a shoplifting case, but this case was hardly typical, as it was both lengthy for its type and at least one of the defendants is well-known to area residents.
Edward Savage was formerly the Hanson Police Chief who resigned in 2012 after an extensive outside investigation revealed he was reporting false and inflated crime statistics to the town for its annual town report for a period of seven to eight years, leaving an appearance that the department was struggling to keep up with the amount of work at its staffing levels at the time– among other substantiated allegations, according to the investigatory report by Alfred Donovan of APD Management, Inc. in 2012.
Several media outlets questioned whether the Savages received lighter treatment than other defendants because of Savage’s former position with the police, including WCVB-TV and The Boston Globe. A court official familiar with the matter strongly denied that the two received special treatment at any time.
According to the Hingham police report, “Edward took clothing off of the racks and tables and removed the hangers from them and then carefully folded them into the bottom of the carriage. He then brought the cloths [sic] to Christine who had an empty Kohl’s bag with her. She then brought the carriage with her into the woman’s [sic] dressing room. When she came out, she had the clothes tucked under the empty Kohl’s bag. The two of them then headed for the front door.”
They were apprehended by two Kohl’s loss prevention employees, who contacted police. The Savages were not cooperative according to the report.
The Savages were summonsed before now-retired Hingham District Court Clerk-Magistrate Joseph Ligotti, June 19, 2017, in a closed-door show of cause hearing, the audio of which was later released to media. Ligotti did not find probable cause to issue charges, which, said a court official at the time, is typical for minor cases where defendants do not have criminal records.
But Ligotti made it clear that he did not believe the two had made a mistake. “You want me to believe that two people have to go back to a car to get one wallet … I don’t believe either one of them,” he said in the recording.
He also questioned why the two were not arrested after being argumentative to Kohls employees and the Hingham police.
“I don’t know,” says the Hingham police prosecutor, Sgt. Steven Dearth.
Ligotti agreed to dismiss the charges, with the agreement of the police, if the Savages stayed out of legal trouble for eight months and wrote letters of apology to Kohl’s and to the Hingham Police Department.
In January, 2018, Ligotti retired and Andrew Quigley became the acting clerk-magistrate for Hingham District Court. Hingham police notified Quigley after the eight-month period that the Savages had never written a letter of apology to the police, so Quigley issued the charges, this time before a judge. An outside prosecutor, Frances Cannone, of Essex County, was brought in.
The Savages were arraigned April 2, 2018, on the criminal charges for not complying with the conditions of Ligotti’s dismissal. They later filed a motion to dismiss those charges Sept. 13, 2018.
At that hearing, the Savages’ attorney argued that the acting clerk magistrate, Quigley, should not have issued the criminal charges, and that he had “violated the integrity of the Magistrate’s hearing” by doing so, because the Savages thought they had until the very last day before the charges were dismissed to write their letters of apology. Webster said they wrote the letters. But it was only after criminal charges were being filed against them, according to Cannone.
During the hearing on the motion to dismiss, held before Judge John Stapleton, Webster read a quote from the original show of cause hearing:
“Okay, I am getting two letters written, signed by both people. I’m going to continue this matter until 2/28 of ’18 for dismissal. It will automatically dismiss on that date, no need to be back. Should you be dumb enough to do anything else illegal, this will automatically kick in and will automatically come back … and it will be issued,” Clerk-Magistrate Ligotti said.
Stapleton denied the motion to dismiss the charges noting that the court found that the acting clerk-magistrate, Quigley, had not violated the integrity of the clerk-magistrate hearing.
Finally, the Savages struck a deal with Cannone, this time with no requirement to write any letters, and Bradley approved the deal. Should the Savages follow its conditions by staying out of legal trouble and staying away from Kohl’s at Derby Street Shops, this may be the end of this legal matter for them. If they break those conditions, according to Bradley, they will be back before the court.