CHICOPEE, Mass. (AP) — The superintendent of schools in a Massachusetts city was charged Wednesday with lying to federal agents investigating threats made by text messages to a candidate for police chief, who eventually withdrew from consideration.
Lynn Clark, the superintendent of Chicopee schools, was arrested on a charge of making false statements, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston. She was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday. No defense attorney was listed in court records and a message seeking comment was sent to her work email.
Chicopee, a city of about 55,000 residents roughly 80 miles (129 kilometers) west of Boston, was in the process of hiring a new police chief late last year when law enforcement received a report that a candidate for the position had received texts from unknown numbers that seemed intended to force them to withdraw their application, federal authorities said.
The texts threatened to expose information that would cause the candidate reputational harm, and as a result, that person withdrew their candidacy, authorities said. They did not disclose any information about the candidate’s identity or any other information about the alleged threats.
According to FBI affidavit in the case, Clark sent 99 messages “that were threatening in nature” to the candidate, the candidate’s spouse and to herself, using an app that allowed her to hide her cellphone number.
Clark, who lives in Belchertown, eventually admitted she sent the messages, but not before pointing the finger at others, authorities said.
The affidavit said Clark believed that if the candidate was named chief, it would “negatively impact” her position as superintendent and she wanted the candidate to get “knocked down a peg.”
Chicopee Mayor John Vieau in a statement called the allegations disheartening.
“The mayor’s office is aware of the situation and we are working to ensure that school department operations continue smoothly through this transition as the education of children remains paramount,” the statement said.
The school committee has scheduled a meeting for Wednesday night to discuss Clark’s future.