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Back-pay suit by former police officer nears end

Judge decides Greenfield will pay 0.34 percent interest in Menard case

GREENFIELD — The state Appeals Court has ordered the town to pay one of its former police officers interest on money it owes him in back pay, so town officials are just waiting to hear how much that will be.

Denis Menard, a former Greenfield police officer who was injured in the line of duty in 2004 when he fell from a ladder during an investigation and broke his wrist and kneecap, had asked that the court order the town pay 12 percent interest on his roll call pay, as well as 12 percent interest on his longevity and education incentive pays, but a judge instead has decided the town will pay 0.34 percent interest, in accordance with the interest rate applied to judgments against the state.

“I believe that means he will get about $40 in interest for roll call pay,” said Dennis Helmus, the town’s human resources director. “The town isn’t refusing to pay the interest. We’re just waiting for the court to calculate it and tell us how much.”

Helmus said the town will also wait to hear how much longevity and education incentive pay it owes Menard, and how much the interest will be on those amounts.

He said the town’s police officers receive a roll call incentive if they show up 10 minutes before their shift starts.

Helmus said despite Menard being out on long-term medical leave prior to his disability retirement, the court decided the town should pay him roll call pay to comply with the contract the town had with the former officer. It also decided the longevity and education incentives should be paid, because those too were in Menard’s contract.

He said the town has believed all along that Menard should not have been paid roll call, longevity or education pays, but said Greenfield will abide by the court’s decision.

Helmus said the town stopped paying roll call to Menard after he went on medical leave, because he was no longer attending roll call.

The town has to pay Menard $2,688 for back roll call pay, and the court will soon calculate how much it must pay in longevity and education incentives, as well as how much interest needs to be paid on both of those.

The court is only allowing interest to be paid Menard from Feb. 28, 2008, through May 6, 2011. Menard has always contended he should receive interest from the time he retired until now.

“This is almost over,” said Helmus.

After a lengthy medical leave, the town informed Menard by mail of his involuntary retirement in December 2007. Since then, Menard has been fighting for what he believes the town owes him, the former officer has said many times.

Menard worked 27 years on the local force and has claimed all along that he was owed about $35,000 more than he received from the town after he retired.

The former officer recently received a letter from the town’s treasurer-collector’s office saying that a check in the amount of $1,926.96 had gone back into a town account after not being cashed, and that Menard will have about a year to reclaim his money, before he forfeits all rights to it.

According to Helmus and Marjorie Lane Kelly, the town’s finance director, that check was mailed to Menard, who claims he never received it, in payment of his back roll call pay.

Kelly said it is state law that if a check from a municipality is not cashed within a certain time frame, and then is not claimed within a year of notice from the town, the money becomes the town’s.

Town officials said part of the problem is that there has been a dispute over the amount of the check it sent Menard, with the former officer claiming that he had asked that taxes not be taken out, so it should have been a larger amount.

Helmus said the town automatically takes taxes out, just like it would a paycheck, unless informed in writing to do something different.

If he disagrees with the court’s decision on the interest owed him, Menard, who does not want to talk to the press right now because of pending legal issues, could take the issue of how much interest was ordered by the Appeals Court to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

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