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Sheriff Under Investigation Kills Self

Sheriff Under Investigation Kills Self

James V. DiPaola

Boston Globe via YellowBrix

November 28, 2010

WELLS, Maine — The longtime sheriff of Middlesex County, James V. DiPaola, was discovered dead yesterday from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound in a resort in this coastal town, authorities said.

DiPaola, a 57-year-old Democrat with more than 30 years in public service, had announced abruptly a week ago that he would retire in January, after being questioned by the Globe about his plans to collect a state pension while continuing to serve as sheriff. He had also acknowledged an ethics investigation into his office.

A statement released last night by the police in Wells, a southern coastal town, said DiPaola was discovered by hotel workers lying on a bed, with a gunshot wound to the head.

A hotel maid had become concerned when DiPaola failed to leave his room by checkout time and summoned the manager of the Lafayette Oceanfront Resort on Mile Road, who used a master key to open the door.

Wells police said when they entered the room, they found a note several pages long that DiPaola had left behind, along with the gun they believe he used to commit suicide.

The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office confirmed “the sudden death’’ of DiPaola, a former Malden police officer and state representative who was first elected sheriff in 1996 and reelected this month.

“We ask that the family’s privacy be respected during this difficult time,’’ the statement reads. “Operations at the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office will continue under the direction of Special Sheriff John Granara.’’

Reaction from top state officials to the news arrived swiftly.

Governor Deval Patrick described the sheriff’s death as “a shocking and tragic event.’’

“I extend my deepest condolences to the DiPaola family and to the sheriff’s staff, all of whom are certainly reeling with this news,’’ the governor’s statement said. “Sheriff DiPaola had a 30-year record of public service. Tonight we honor that service and pray for his family.’’

House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, who had served in the Legislature with DiPaola, expressed similar sentiments. “My thoughts and prayers go out to his family,’’ the speaker said in a statement.

The Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association said its members “will remember him for his strong law enforcement leadership, his longstanding commitment to effective inmate programs, and his devoted service to public safety in Middlesex County.’’

A Middlesex sheriff’s deputy was posted at the DiPaola residence in Malden last night, turning away media. The house — a tan, three-bedroom residence that sits at the end of a steep cul-de-sac — was dark. The deputy said no one was home.

DiPaola leaves his wife, Adeline, three daughters, and three grandchildren.

Friends of DiPaola said they were baffled by his apparent suicide. One, who did not want to be quoted by name, said it was completely out of character for the sheriff, who was outgoing and affable, and seemingly well-adjusted.

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