False claims / RICO action against members of the Stoughton Police Department and Peter Dowd for the improper disposition of guns held by the police department in a way that defrauds the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

United States District Court — District of Massachusetts (Boston)

Filed: June 27, 2018

Status:  Discovery and Litigation 

Discovery uncovered information that implicates many other Massachusetts police departments in this guns for ‘credit’ scheme.  As of 17 August 2020, the Third Amendment Complaint lists fifteen cities and towns as defendants.

Commonwealth (Ex. Rel. Powell) v. Holmes is a four-count civil complaint against officers of the Stoughton Police Department, Village Gun Shop, Inc. d/b/a Village Vault and Peter Dowd for the improper disposition of certain firearms in the police department’s possession. While trying to assist a former Stoughton resident in recovering firearms surrendered to the Stoughton police in 2015, Comm2A was able to document a pattern of illegal practices by certain members of the department and Village Vault.

Like its federal counterpart, the Massachusetts False Claims Act encourages private citizens to report fraud against the government and to bring civil actions on the government’s behalf. It also imposes significant penalties on individuals and companies that defraud the state.

The federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute provides a civil cause of action for activities that are part of a criminal enterprise. While originally intended to fight organized crime, the RICO statute has been successfully applied in other cases where it can be shown that an enterprise has engaged in a pattern of ‘racketeering’ activity over time in violation of federal law.

Count one alleges that by depriving plaintiff Mykel Powell of his property without providing him due process of law, members of the Stoughton Police Department violated his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.

The second count alleges that members of the Stoughton Police Department and Village Vault defrauded the Commonwealth of Massachusetts when the department exchanged firearms for dollar denominated ‘credits’ and allowed Village Vault to retain the proceeds from the sale of those firearms rather than remitting them to the State Treasurer.

The third count alleges that members of the Stoughton PD and Village Vault conspired with each other to evade the statutory requirement that the Colonel of the Massachusetts State Police auction guns held by police departments for more than one year and remit the proceeds to the State Treasurer.

The final count alleges that Peter Down and Village Vault engaged in a pattern of activity over time that constitutes a violation of the federal RICO Act.

Plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Margarita Smirnova and David  D. Jensen.

History/Schedule:

    • 08/17/2020 — Third Amended Complaint
    • 04/10/2020 — Status Conference
    • 04/09/2020 — Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Discovery
    • 3/05/2020 — Status Conference
    • 10/23/2019 — Scheduling Conference
    • 08/01/2019 — Answer to Amended Complaint by Village Vault
    • 07/22/2019 — Answer to Amended Complaint by members of the Stoughton Police Department
    • 02/27/2019 — Amended Complaint
    • 07/27/2018 — Complaint
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