Boston police officer made phony report to help bus driver keep his job

A Boston bus driver who feared he would lose his job because he overslept came up with what he thought was a better excuse: He got a police officer to falsely state that he had been arrested.

The scheme was made public Wednesday when the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission released a letter stating that the police officer had violated the state’s conflict-of-interest law by creating a phony criminal complaint for his best friend’s brother.

The letter was part of the ongoing disciplinary proceedings against Officer James Clark, a 25-year veteran of the Boston force.

When he created the phony report in July 2016, he was a patrol officer in Brighton, and his friend’s brother — the letter uses the pseudonym “John Smith” — was a driver for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

Because of a history of absences, Smith was under a “Last Chance Agreement,” meaning he could be fired for missing a shift without an excuse.

On July 4, 2016, he overslept and missed his shift. He sought out Clark and asked for a police report stating he had been arrested.

He then gave his supervisors the falsified “application for criminal complaint” in the name of a fictitious police officer that stated Smith was suspected of assault on a former girlfriend, whose name it listed.

Clark admitted to completing the false document — which was never entered into police records — but told the commission he didn’t know the driver intended to use it to explain a work absence. Instead, he said, Smith had told him that he needed the document as an alibi to explain to his girlfriend why he had been out all night.

Smith won a temporary abeyance of discipline from his supervisors, but after MBTA officials learned that no criminal charges had actually been filed the bus driver admitted he had missed work because he overslept. He resigned from his job.

The ethics commission’s letter to Clark says: “You knowingly used your position as a BPD police officer to secure for Smith an unwarranted privilege of substantial value that was not properly available to similarly situated individuals.”

It elaborates: “Even if you were unaware of Smith’s true intent, and even if you believed, as you testified, that Smith was going to use the Application to deceive his girlfriend regarding his whereabouts and thereby avoid or solve a domestic problem, you had reason to know, given the urgency and persistence with which he requested it, that the Application was of substantial value to Smith.”

An internal affairs investigation sustained an allegation against Clark of “conduct unbecoming; charges of “untruthfulness” and “conformance to laws” were not sustained. A Boston police spokesman said the discipline process remains ongoing.