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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Nashua city employee retires after being disciplined for violations with city plow truck

NASHUA – A Public Works employee disciplined for taking a city snowplow without authorization and using it to plow his friend’s driveway has resigned and will retire next month, according to records released by the city last week.

Monte Freire, an employee with the city for nearly three decades, submitted his resignation to the Board of Public Works earlier this month and the board accepted it Tuesday. ...

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NASHUA – A Public Works employee disciplined for taking a city snowplow without authorization and using it to plow his friend’s driveway has resigned and will retire next month, according to records released by the city last week.

Monte Freire, an employee with the city for nearly three decades, submitted his resignation to the Board of Public Works earlier this month and the board accepted it Tuesday.

Two months earlier, Freire argued his two-day discipline was too harsh and other employees who had done the same thing received only written warnings.

Freire’s request for a grievance was denied, as members of the board agreed his punishment could have been more severe.

Minutes of a March 18 meeting released by the city last week indicate Freire “plowed a friend’s driveway with a city vehicle” on February 16.

Freire “took a city vehicle assigned to another employee without that employee’s knowledge … and went to an area out of his route to plow a driveway,” the minutes read.

Freire left the vehicle idling in the driveway and went inside a house, which is prohibited by city policy.

“Monte explained that he had a clean record up to this point,” the minutes read. “Monte believes other employees have done similar offenses and received written warnings.”

Freire’s request for a grievance was denied after Mayor Donnalee Lozeau advised that an offense of similar nature “had not occurred under their watch and that there is no tolerance for taking city resources,” according to the minutes.

Freire told the board he believed his discipline “had escalated due to the interest from The Telegraph.”

City officials investigated and researched the accusations of private driveway plowing against Freire, which were lodged by a neighbor of the house in question on Taylor Street, and “went so far as to measure the driveway to determine if a plow vehicle could fit.”

The minutes reveal an incorrect address where the violations were happening was initially provided to the city, and then corrected at a later date.

After looking into the situation further, city officials determined “it had to be one of a couple people,” Lozeau said Friday.

When confronted, Freire admitted it was him, Lozeau said.

“We have made it very clear that employees who abuse the system or do things they shouldn’t do will face the consequences,” Lozeau said.

“I think that reflects well on the city and sends a message to other city employees.”

City officials spent some time getting to the bottom of the complaint, since they have no way to track city plow trucks.

The Board of Public Works is now considering installing GPS systems in all DPW vehicles.

Having a GPS system would make it easier to follow up residents’ complaints and also would improve efficiency, Lozeau said.

Freire, 47, a 28-year city employee, submitted his retirement papers on May 9. His retirement is effective June 16.

“I have enjoyed my work carrier (sic) with the City of Nashua but it is time to move on and explore other opportunities,” Freire wrote.

In 2013, Freire’s salary was $47,333, but he was paid $70,493 because of overtime and other bonuses.

Freire has made headlines before.

Last summer, Freire was awarded $4.3 million by a Connecticut jury after he was attacked at a Branford, Conn., restaurant named U.S.S. Chowder Pot III.

The incident, which occurred in 2010, made national headlines because of the context of the stabbing. Freire’s assailant, John Mayor, became agitated that Freire had a Boston accent and assumed he was a Boston Red Sox fan, according to court documents.

Mayor attacked Freire after declaring Freire was not welcome in “Yankees territory” and is serving a 10-year prison sentence for his actions.