NEW MILFORD — Several residents called for an investigation after a state report said a former high ranking police officer violated three town policies.

A Connecticut State Police report said former Capt. Larry Ash tipped off suspects of a felony drug investigation and accepted a gift of a cooking grill in exchange for dropping an investigation according to an article in the Waterbury Republican-American.

“This appears to be cronyism,” Mary Jane Lundgren said during public comment at Monday’s Town Council meeting. Lundgren is a Democrat running for Town Council. “Everyone knows Mr. Bass that Mr. Ash is a friend of yours.”

She said Mayor Pete Bass should not have told everyone that Ash was exonerated, when the report shows the opposite. She said this should be investigated by an outside party

Other speakers agreed.

Ash was reinstated in January after an outside investigation concluded he didn’t do anything wrong, according to a press release from Bass at the time.

He had been placed on administrative leave last summer pending the outcome of the investigation, which stemmed from a complaint filed with the police.

Ash admitted to receiving the grill, but said it was on loan and planned to buy one. He also said this grill had no value because it needed an auger, according to the Waterbury Republican-American.

He said he became involved after a mutual friend called him saying the owner of Powerhouse Appliance was upset about a police investigation concerning an allegation of forgery and larceny, according to the Waterbury Republican-American.

Bass continued to support Ash at Monday’s Town Council meeting.

“Capt. Ash served this town for 32 years with distinction and received many commendations for his service,” Bass said. “I believe he deserves better.”

He instead said he was concerned about former Chief Shawn Boyne’s relationship with “the state’s investigative authority” and the fact that the state kept investigating Ash after he had retired.

Ash retired in June, just a week or so after he was promoted to captain. That promotion did not come with a salary increase.

Bass said Ash’s trial should play out in court, not in the newspapers.

Boyne filed a lawsuit against Bass and the town in April, claiming his contract was not renewed because he reported possible criminal activity about Ash.

“What you read in the paper isn’t always true and we know that,” Bass said.

The article attributed the information regarding the investigations into Ash to the resulting reports. When asked after the meeting about what information was incorrect, Bass said the article didn’t mention that the FBI didn’t charge Ash after the investigation.

The story states “the FBI’s criminal investigation was unable to substantiate the accusations.”

Bass said residents will understand more as the information about the investigation and allegations is able to become public through the trial.

The pretrial conference for the suit is scheduled for December with the jury selection slated for May.

Some of the comments during Monday’s Town Council meeting were expressions of disgust at what Ash is said to have done, while others were directed more at Bass for saying the charges were unfounded and not being transparent.

“It’s not about Lt. Ash, it’s about you Mr. Mayor,” said Jeff Winter, who is also a Democratic Town Council candidate.

kkoerting@newstimes.com; 203-731-3345