By Paul Leighton and Paul Tennant
BEVERLY — An observant Groveland police officer and a conscientious plant operations manager at Beverly Hospital helped bring about Tuesday’s arrest of Paul G. Galzerano on charges of receiving stolen property, investigators said.
Galzerano, 56, of Groveland pleaded not guilty in Haverhill District Court yesterday to six counts of receiving stolen property in connection with the theft of what police said was more than $200,000 worth of antiques from the hospital. The hospital said 28 paintings were missing, including the two seized Tuesday. Galzerano is due back in court Nov. 4.
Galzerano was associate vice president for support services at Beverly Hospital from 2002 to 2007. He oversaw the hospital’s multimillion dollar expansion and renovation project and often served as the public face of the project. He gave talks about the expansion to the Beverly Kiwanis Club and the Senior Supper Club and also spoke with the media about the project.
But this week he became a suspect in a dramatic case of employee theft.
Police raided Galzerano’s home Tuesday and seized three paintings, a grandfather clock, several oriental-style wooden room dividers and assorted furniture that police say he stole from Beverly Hospital four years ago during the expansion project.
Groveland police Chief Robert Kirmelewicz said he was told by private investigators hired by the hospital that one of the paintings, by Rockport artist Stanley Wingate Woodward, is valued at $200,000. But Don Mosher, the curator of the Rockport Art Association, where Woodward was a member before his death in 1970, doubted the veracity of that figure.
“Never in a million years,” Mosher said when told about the $200,000 estimate. “His paintings don’t bring in any more than $25,000. I’ve seen them go at auction for $5,000 to $8,000.”
Groveland police said the grandfather clock is worth $10,000, while the room dividers are valued at $3,000.
Documents on file in the Haverhill court show that when hospital plant operations manager Charles Higgins found out that the grandfather clock that had been at the hospital for 50 years was going to be removed, he asked Galzerano what was going to be done with it. Higgins, who has worked at the hospital for 45 years and was the clock’s caretaker, told police he saw that clock every day, until its removal.
According to a report filed by Groveland Patrolman James Morton, Galzerano told Higgins the clock was being sent out for refinishing “and not to worry about anything.” But Higgins told police the clock didn’t need refinishing. He said that day in 2003 was the last time he saw the grandfather clock.
Eventually, according to Morton’s report, the hospital “became aware” that not only the clock, but furniture and 28 paintings were missing. So the hospital formed an investigative team.
Chief Kirmelewicz said Groveland police were approached two weeks ago by an investigation team put together by Beverly Hospital. The investigators told police they suspected that stolen antiques were in Galzerano’s home at 281 Main St.
One of the private eyes, John Malone, told Morton that in 2006, Galzerano told Beverly Hospital staff members that he was refurnishing his house. Another member of the investigation team — Bud Holden, director of the off-site campus facility at the hospital — learned Galzerano’s house was posted on a Web site and was for sale, the documents said. Holden and Higgins viewed the pictures of the interior of Galzerano’s home on the Web and the clock looked familiar, the documents said. When Morton, along with Groveland Deputy police Chief Jeff Gillen, met with the group from Beverly Hospital, something clicked.
Morton had made a previous visit to Galzerano’s house, which he purchased in 1987 and which town assessment records say is valued at $663,500.
Back in August, Morton obtained a warrant to search Galzerano’s house for a gun, according to police reports. A neighbor said Galzerano had threatened her with a gun when she complained about loud music, the reports said. Morton found no gun but “was drawn” to a grandfather clock, furniture and paintings on the walls, he wrote in his report. Morton builds Shaker and country furniture for friends and he paints for a hobby.
He particularly noticed a seascape, the artist of which signed his name in red in the lower right corner of the painting. Higgins would later recognize the Woodward painting.
Morton applied for a search warrant Monday. On Tuesday afternoon, he, Gillen, Kirmelewicz and Patrolman Chris Sargent searched Galzerano’s house.
When the officers approached, Galzerano asked what was going on, according to Morton’s report. When he found out, he immediately called his lawyer, Scott Gleason of Haverhill.
When Gleason arrived a short time later, he ordered Galzerano to stop talking to the police, the police report said. Galzerano objected to the officers’ presence, saying they and Beverly Hospital were “harassing” him, according to the report.
Beverly Hospital, in the meantime, had arranged to have a truck from the Tobin moving company of Peabody go to Groveland to pick up the clock, paintings and other items. The seized items were placed in a locked evidence room at the Groveland police station. Higgins identified both the clock and Woodward’s seascape, according to Morton.
The thefts were never reported to Beverly police, department spokesman Officer John McCarthy said yesterday. He said Beverly police did not know about the incident until they were notified recently by Groveland police.
McCarthy said people are not obliged by law to report stolen property, “but we strongly encourage people to report stolen items to us so we can help them recover them.”
In a statement, hospital officials said they “recently became aware that there were some items missing from Beverly Hospital and we have been working with the Groveland Police Department in an effort to recover those items. “
“Unfortunately, it appears that this matter may involve a former employee. We are cooperating fully with the authorities and cannot comment further on an ongoing investigation,” the statement said.
Yesterday, Judge Stephen Abany set bail of $1,000 cash, which was agreed to by Assistant District Attorney John DePaulo and Gleason. The defense attorney said he expected Galzerano would be able to post the bail that day. The case has been continued until Nov. 4. The charge of assault with a dangerous weapon stemming from the alleged gun threat to the neighbor was also continued until that date.
Abany warned Galzerano that if he gets into “further trouble,” his bail will be revoked and he will he held until his hearing.