2 Mass. workers get probation in murky pool case
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — Two former Massachusetts recreation managers admitted Tuesday that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict them of reckless endangerment of a child for opening a murky state-run pool where the body of a drowned woman went unnoticed for two days.
Brian Shanahan and Jeff Carter admitted to sufficient facts in Fall River District Court on Tuesday. Their cases were continued without a finding for a year. If they are not convicted of any new crimes during that probationary period, the charges will be dropped.
The body of 36-year-old Marie Joseph was found June 28, two days after she was reported missing while swimming at the Lafayette Park pool in Fall River.
No charges were filed in her death. Shanahan and Carter were charged with reckless endangerment of a child, a misdemeanor, for allowing the shallow end of the pool to remain open for two days after Joseph's death, while her body lay undetected in the deep end and the water was too cloudy for safe operation.
Shanahan's lawyer, Thomas Drechsler, said the 60-year-old Shanahan has retired from his job as regional director of the Department of Conservation and Recreation.
"I emphasized to the judge that my client was not charged with anything to do with her death. He was charged with endangering minor children who were swimming at the pool the day after she died," Drechsler said.
Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter, said Judge Beverly Cannone rejected a request from prosecutors to find Shanahan and Carter guilty and place both men on probation for two years.
After an investigation, Sutter ruled Joseph's death accidental, but cited a "systemic failure" in the pool's operation.
"A series of poor decisions, with errors compounding errors, a disregard for regulatory requirements and a disregard for the proper standard for operating the pool pervaded multiple levels of DCR supervision and management," Sutter wrote in his report.
The report said DCR workers failed to properly manage the pool's water quality, making it impossible for Joseph, a non-swimmer, to see how deep the water was where she drowned — 12 feet.