Tracking MA jail deaths in the hands of bean counters

The ACLU’s FOIA request yielded emails between the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) and the Office of the State Auditor, which in 2018 conducted a performance audit that noted the BCSO’s (1) failure to reimburse the state $350K until it was caught; (2) failure to update its per-diem custody and care rate for ICE; (3) failure to file inmate total cost reports; and (4) failure to properly document travel records.

The Auditor was asked to look into suicide rates at the jail and her field auditors did. But they looked at only two years of suicide data — 2016 and 2017. It would have been better if the Auditor had used more thorough, accurate and statistically meaningful data, such as that collected by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, which looked at Massachusetts jail suicides from 2006 to 2016.

The BCSO, in fact, had 20 years of data and offered auditors numbers for 2013 forward, but it would have been extra work to compare it to other counties in the state because there is no formal mechanism in Massachusetts government (other than a FOIA request or an audit) to collect mortality data from state correctional facilities. Neither the Massachusetts Department of Correction nor the Massachusetts Sheriff’s Association collects, much less publishes, such data for public or research. So, for the first time ever by an agency of the state, it was up to bean counters to look at jail suicides while doing a financial audit. Let that sink in for a minute.

In citing Bureau of Justice (BJS) statistics to Auditor James Moriarty, Jonathan Darling compared BCSO suicides with national averages. According to the BJS report which Darling cited, “the suicide rate in local jails in 2014 was 50 per 100,000 local jail inmates. This is the highest suicide rate observed in local jails since 2000 (table 4).

Having chosen the highest national rate to compare with his jail’s suicides, Darling wrote:

“As you can see, even when we had a spike in 2016, we were still well below the national average. The narrative in the media is how evil Sheriff Hodgson is, when it really should be how great Massachusetts Sheriffs are.”

But many of the families whose loved ones committed suicide on Hodgson’s watch didn’t think he was such a great sheriff. They have filed wrongful death lawsuits.

If you want to verify the BJS data Darling cited, it can’t be done. Bureau of Justice Statistics “Deaths in Custody Reporting Program” (DCRP) data is collected by RTI International, a research group originally founded by USAID. OpenSecrets shows 80% of RTI’s corporate principals are connected with a lobbying firm, Cornerstone Government Affairs, otherwise known as the Pentagon’s lobbyist. The data — even “sanitized” and stripped of personal identification — may simply not be accessed by the public:

Due to the sensitive nature of the data and to protect respondent confidentiality, the data are restricted from general dissemination. These data are enclave-only and may only be accessed at ICPSR’s location in Ann Arbor, MI. Users wishing to view these data must first contact NACJD, complete an Application for use of the ICPSR Data Enclave (available as part of the documentation for this study), and receive permission to analyze the files before traveling to Ann Arbor.

But it doesn’t matter now. DCRP data has not been updated since 2014 and it appears that the Justice Deparment under Trump has stopped collecting it.

Sheriffs love accountability — for everyone but themselves. But because of the secretive and undependable availability of federal jail death statistics and a lack of public reporting by the Massachusetts Sheriff’s Association and the state Department of Correction, the only way to get the data is for Massachusetts legislators to mandate the monthly collection and publication of detailed mortality statistics from DOC prisons and county jails.

Flattery will get you…

… in to see Stephen Miller

On October 6, 2017 Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson still wanted his White House tour and a private meeting with Stephen Miller. His email launches a long chain that ends with Hodgson standing at the Old Executive Office Building waiting for Miller’s designate to pick him up.

Stephen, Excellent article highlighting your unique talents, intellect, and political savvy. The President is truly fortunate to have someone who is in sync with his mindset and able to drive his agenda. Congratulations! On another matter, I hate to even bother you with all you have going on but I will be in Washington, D.C. for a wedding from the 11th to the 16th. About one month ago, I had asked if you could direct me to someone that could help me arrange a White House tour for the former President of UMASS Dartmouth, the former Owner of Acushnet Rubber, their spouses and my wife and me. Although I have been trying to connect with John Zadrony, we have not been able to speak. He had hoped to speak with me on two previous occasions about the tour and some thoughts I have for strengthening our immigration front to avoid the recent court decisions in Massachusetts and elsewhere, but I am sure he must have had some conflicting issues. Anything you could do to direct me to someone who could make this possible, I really and truly would appreciate it. I would even be willing to meet with John to discuss the thoughts and ideas while the others did the tour if that is possible. It would mean a lot to me if this tour could be possible for Oct. 12th or 13th as those are the days that are open. I am sorry to be even asking you for your support on this request as I know you are incredibly busy. Thanks for your consideration and for any effort you are willing to offer to support this request. Stay well and keep up the good work. Hope you enjoy your weekend!

Miller replied:

Thanks for the kind words. Adding Carlos** in my office.

** “Carlos” was Carlos Diaz-Rosillo, a Cuban-American conservative and hardliner on Cuba. He taught a popular course, “The Road to the White House” at Harvard, resigning to join the Trump transition team in 2016. By 2017 Diaz-Rosillo was running errands for Miller. By 2018 Diaz-Rosillo had become disillusioned and participated in an “exodus” of Latinos from the Trump administration because of its lack of communication with the Hispanic community.

But back to 2017. Hodgson knows he’ll be speaking with Diaz-Rosillo and not Miller. His meeting agenda sounds vague:

Carlos, thanks so much for your prompt response and for your efforts to schedule the tour. I will be happy and look forward to meeting and discussing some ideas and thoughts as to how we can strengthen our Federal state and local partnerships, in light of recent court decisions and legislative attempts to prevent our collaboration and enforcement of our federal immigration laws. I look forward to seeing you and once again, so appreciate your efforts and support of my request. I have received the form and will submit the information today. Stay well and enjoy your weekend.

But now Hodgson needs to contact Miller’s high-priced helper because he’s incorrectly entered the birthplace of the spouse of James DeMello on the tour form:

Carlos, when submitting the registration information for the party of six, I incorrectly listed the “country of birth” for Natalia Carreiro Bento as USA when in fact it should be Azores Islands. The link would not allow me to make the correction and indicated that I should notify my point of contact. Sorry for the error. Thanks again for your help. Look forward to meeting with you.

But Hodgson still needs to thank the real object of his affections, so he emails Miller to see if he can pop in for a “quick hello.”

Stephen, thank you so much for your support and for making it possible for the tour. Carlos reached out to me this morning and has been most accommodating and helpful. We will be visiting on Thursday at 10:30 am and I will be meeting with Carlos to discuss some thoughts and ideas on moving our immigration enforcement beyond recent court decisions and politically motivated attempts to obstruct. Would love to say a quick hello if you have a moment but certainly understand the demands on your schedule if it’s not possible. Thanks again for making the tour possible.enjoy your weekend!

Miller replies:

sounds great! Carlos is fabulous.

Diaz-Rosillo now has to tell the Secret Service Hodgson is visiting Miller:

sounds good. I’ll let the Secret Service know. Also, for our meeting following the tour, would it be just you? I need to send you another link, since you need to exit and then enter again.

Hodgson:

Carlos, thanks for taking care of the mistake. Also, I will be the only one attending the meeting. Looking forward to seeing you.

Hodgson again:

Carlos, do we need to check in at 9:30 am for the 10:00 am tour tomorrow? Also, you mentioned I may need to check out and check back in following the tour, for our meeting. I haven’t received a request for pre screening, so if it is required for our meeting please let me know. Look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

Hodgson’s travel agent replies:

This is the link for our meeting after the tour: https://events.whitehouse.gov
Please fill it out as soon as you can and let me know when you have filled it out so that you can get additional information. Here is also some information for your tour.

Hodgson:

Carlos, I submitted my information for the meeting

Diaz-Rosillo:

Great! You should exit after your tour and enter again from the 17th Street and State Street entrance. Email me when you are in and I will pick you up.

Later that afternoon Hodgson shows up:

carlos, I am here at the old Executive office bldg not sure what room

Bzzz-bzzz

In August 2017 Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson was still a fly buzzing in Stephen Miller’s ear.

Brock Cordeiro was still watching Google Alerts for articles on Hodgson, which Hodgson would then send to Miller.

Miller was still forwarding them to Zadrozny, who finally emailed Hodgson on September 12th asking the sheriff if he was calling about another White House tour or if it was something “of substance” and offering him five or ten minutes of his time.

I can probably talk tomorrow for 5-10 minutes, depending on when. (This is going to be a crappy week for us.) ls this about setting up tours or substance?

Hodgson wrote back to Zadrozny singing Hosannas to the President, saying he had some thoughts on DACA:

Actually, quick thoughts on DACA enforcement, launching issue 287g initiative and just one tour. Won’t take more than 7 minutes of your time. I will make myself available to call at a time that is best for you. Keep up your good work! The efforts of our President and Administration is clearly working and making a REAL difference!

Two weeks later Hodgson again contacted Miller — again singing Trump’s praises, again promising to send Miller another puff piece about himself, and again badmouthing another New Bedford institution, the Immigrants Assistance Center:

Just two quick tidbits to share. The number one selling professional football jersey as of today, is worn by the Pittsburgh Steelers player and veteran who left his team in the locker room and stood on the field to respect and honor our flag and National Anthem. “Making America Great Again”. Thanks to President Trump and his team, it is working. Also, the lmmigrants Assistance Center in New Bedford was advertising that they would be holding a session to help DACA designees reapply for their status. They were apparently getting a great deal of calls, motivating them to provide the assistance. Nobody showed up! Hope all is well. Will forward the Boston Globe’s Sunday Feature about my support of the President and his agenda, which is entitled “Trumpachusetts”. Who would have thought The Globe would acknowledge that the President’s agenda is alive and well in the liberal bookend of America! Keep up the good work!

Miller responded as he usually did to Hodgson’s buzzing in his ear — with two syllables and no punctuation.

Quid pro quo… et quidam alii

On August 8, 2017 Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson wrote Stephen Miller to ask for a favor — a special White House tour for a crony who does Hodgson a lot of favors.

Stephen, I know how busy you are but was hoping you could assist or guide me to someone who may be able grant a White House tour. I will be in Washington, D.C. arriving the morning of October 11, 2017 to attend a wedding on the 14th. 1 will be accompanied by my wife, the former owner of Acushnet Rubber Company (O rings for shuttle, Titleist golf balls, etc.) current owner of DeMello Portuguese lnternational Center, (New Bedford) and his wife as well as one other couple who are partners in the center. All of course, are huge fans of our President. The 12th and 13th are wide open and obviously we will arrange everything around whatever time and date is possible. I am sorry to bother you with this but it sure would mean a great deal to me and them if a tour could be scheduled. Thanks in advance for any guidance or support in making this a possibility. Will keep you posted on the ongoing matters on the immigration front.

Hodgson, who must have figured he had groveled and saluted and flattered Miller enough by now, was asking for a special White House tour for his good friend, former Acushnet Co. CEO James Demello, who rents Hodgson a home on Hathaway Ave. in Dartmouth for ridiculously low rent and who is a co-owner of the DeMello International Center, whose website feature a photo of Hodgson and Demello for some reason.

Miller responded to Hodgson’s request with a characteristic minimum of syllables:

Adding John

by which Miller was referring to former Federation for American Immigration Reform employee John Zadrozny.

Hodgson rats out his church after mass

On August 7, 2017 Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson sent an email to Stephen Miller that has received more attention than any other — he ratted out his own church right after attending mass.

Stephen, thought you might like to see samples of cards I discovered in a holder at the back of St. Julie’s church in Dartmouth,MA. While attending mass last sunday, I noticed a holder on atable near the entrance marked, “ICE-Immigration” and noticed the three stacks of colored cards. Trying to determine if this is an isolated situation or a common occurrence in other parish churches. Will be appearing on Neil Cavuto’ s show this afternoon to take on the Mayor of chicago’ s suit against DOJ. At least he is consistent in his expectations that he does not want to be held accountable to the criteria for being awarded Byrne Grant monies much like he doesn’ t want illegal immigrants to be held accountable for following our immigration laws. The law is the law and the rules are the rules!

Hodgson attached a photo:

This act — while demonstrating contempt for his own church and his faith’s teachings of compassion for the stranger — is hardly the worst thing he’s done. It was also not in violation of any laws.

But Hodgson, who writes above “The law is the law and the rules are the rules!” isn’t really all that much of a rule-follower. Hodgson has violated everything from campaign finance laws, Massachusetts public meeting law, state records laws, to the State Judicial Court’s Lunn Ruling. And he’s pretty much gotten away with it.

Historical revisionism

On August 3, 2017 Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson wrote White House white supremacist Stephen Miller to congratulate him on fighting with CNN reporter Jim Acosta about the inscription on the base of the Statue of Liberty.

The email was one more example of Hodgson playing the toady, unctuous approval-seeker. It also demonstrated Hodgson’s adoption of historical revisionism, a common tactic of lying about history that white supremacists like Miller employ.

Stephen, I couldn’t have been more proud of you as I watched you dress down the CNN reporter and school him on immigration law and the origin and meaning behind the Statue of Liberty. I have to believe President Trump must be equally as proud you stood squarely in the face of yet another attempt, undermine the President’s agenda to protect the interests of all Americans and our legal residents. Congratulations on your continued good work for the President and our nation. Many are singing your praises here on local radio and around the water coolers. Still working to counter the SJC ruling that encroached into the singular authority of the Federal Government to create laws and regulate immigration matters. We will persevere!

New York Daily News reporter Leonard Greene tore into Miller’s historical revisionism with a piece entitled “Trump flack Stephen Miller fights with CNN reporter over Statue of Liberty poem’s true meaning.”

Give me your skilled, your self-sufficient, your English-speaking masses yearning to grow the American economy.

A White House aide and a CNN reporter argued during a nationally televised news briefing over the meaning of the Emma Lazarus poem at the foot of the Statue of Liberty.

After Senior Policy Adviser Stephen Miller suggested the poem’s open-door sentiment was not the original message behind the statue, CNN’s White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta — the son of Cuban immigrants — countered with a history lesson on the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

“That sounds like some national park revisionism,” Acosta said. “The Statue of Liberty has always been a beacon of hope to the world for people to send their people to this country and they’re not always going to speak English. They’re not always going to be highly-skilled.”

Miller’s own family hardly recognizes the Jewish kid who apparently forgot that his grandparents immigrated to the United States with no money, no English, and nobody particularly fond of having Jews arrive. One them, David Glosser, penned an article in Politico entitled “Stephen Miller Is an Immigration Hypocrite. I Know Because I’m His Uncle.”

I have watched with dismay and increasing horror as my nephew, an educated man who is well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family’s life in this country.

For those who may have forgotten, the inscription by Emma Lazarus at the base of the Statue of Liberty is from “The New Colossus” and still brings tears to the eyes of anyone whose family passed through New York harbor — or anyone with an ounce of human compassion.

Hodgson: punish police departments

On July 25, 2017 Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson wrote to Stephen Miller about denying Department of Justice grants to cities who won’t play ball with ICE. In this email Hodgson didn’t propose anything Jeff Sessions hadn’t already thought of. He’s just showing Miller that he’s a good little soldier.

By serving as federal ICE agents, municipal police departments (and Hodgson’s state-funded 287(g) program) pay for federal policing. Hodgson actually acknowledges this, reasoning that if police departments don’t serve this function “they are forcing the federal government to expend more money to have additional ICE agents” and, therefore, it “stands to reason” that the DOJ ought to take grant money away from them.

Once again: If police departments won’t play ball with Trump’s anti-immigration policies, Hodgson wants to punish them.

Stephen, Want to offer a thought regarding the criticisms about holding back DOJ grants to Sanctuary Cities/States. lf these elected officials refuse to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement, then they are forcing the federal government to expend more money to have additional ICE agents enforce the laws in those communities. Stands to reason, that the monies that otherwise would have been granted to the Sanctuary community, should be utilized by the Federal Government to offset the additional expense of adding more ICE agents to keep the communities safe. We have forwarded the draft legislation to the ICE Office of Congressional Affairs, at their request. I am guessing you probably know this because I figure you probably had something to do with their request. Press conference tomorrow at the State House. Will keep you posted.

Hodgson doesn’t care that the Department of Justice is not the Department of Homeland Security.

Nor does Hodgson care that DOJ grant money is not intended for immigration control but for: modernizing, training and staffing police departments; acquiring body cameras and other technology; investigating human trafficking; fighting opioid abuse; reducing crime; conducting investigations related to intellectual property; justice and mental health; gun crime intelligence; reduction of sexual assaults; safe neighborhoods; and reducing school violence, among others.

While DOJ grants can contribute to keeping communities safe, immigration trumps everything else in Hodgson’s one-track mind. And Hodgson is willing to take it all away, showing how little he really cares for the community safety he constantly claims he works so hard for.

“We are on the side of the angels”

In May 2017 the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office again began sending letters to Stephen Miller designed to grab his attention. One sequence especially shows Hodgson desperately selling himself as a loyal soldier, a team player, and a True Believer.

First. Hodgson’s aide Brock Cordeiro found a Lawyers for Civil Rights press release announcing that the civil rights organization would hold Hodgson accountable for failing to respond to their FOIA request. Cordeiro sent it to Hodgson, Hodgson sent it to Miller, and Miller sent it back to Cordeiro, cc’ing Zadrozny with a terse reply:

Adding John

Cordeiro then received more Google Alerts of Hodgson towing the Trump immigration line at the Massachusetts State House, the first from WCVB Boston in which Hodgson flogged the idea of using slave prison labor to build Trump’s wall. Another from the New Boston Post was deeply critical of New Bedford state representative Tony Cabral. Cordeiro sent both links to Hodgson, who proudly forwarded them to Miller, John Zadrozny, and Zina Bash at the White House with the note:

FYI These misguided and uninformed representatives continue to help galvanize our citizens and legal residents to support the President’s call for safer communities through immigration enforcement. We will persevere! Let me know if any one of you has a couple of minutes to chat or if a meeting is possible. I would love to get you up to speed and offer some insight as to some potential strategy going forward.

Zadrozny ultimately returns Cordeiro’s first email, but he seemed to think he was talking to Sheriff Sam Page’s assistant, not Hodgson’s:

Brock, thanks as always for keeping us in the loop. Please let Sheriff Page know l’m happy to talk to him next week about this (and anything else he needs to discuss).

Meanwhile, Hodgson has again contacted Miller:

Testimony went well at the State House in opposition to the Sanctuary State bills. Needless to say, it was a lively event and I will forward the media coverage when it is available. I will be debating the bill’s sponsor, Senator Eldridge on NECN at 7:00pm tonight.

Miller’s reply, again, is light on syllables:

Many thanks

In June 2017 Hodgson was again seeking approval, sending an editorial he had written to Miller and Zadrozny:

As promised, sending along summary of my testimony before the Joint Committees on Homeland Security and Public Safety. Will send along follow up articles to let you see some of the opposition positions. The public is clearly on our side. Yes, even in Massachusetts! Let me know if you will have any time to meet when I am in Washington, D.C. (June 27th – 30th) Stay well!
http://www.southcoasttoday.com/opinion/20170611/your-view-thomas-hodgson—-making-massachusetts-sanctuary-state-puts-public-at-risk

But the public was not on Hodgson’s side. Citizen groups formed to fight him, bills were filed to thwart him, investigations were launched on abuses in his jails, and Hodgson was savaged everywhere but on FOX News and Talk Radio.

After Zadrozny thanks him, Hodgson does some grade-A groveling, offering to make himself available whenever the Boss calls and to do “whatever you decide” — except where it conflicts with his taypayer-funded advocacy for the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s annual hate-fest.

John, I am scheduled for a 9:40 am radio interview at the radio row event on the 29th and could likely meet at 10:30 am if that works. I arrive on the 27th and could meet anytime after 10:00 am as I do not begin radio row until the 28th and continue on the 29th. I am also not leaving until the evening of the 30th and would be available all day at your convenience. lf the 29th is the only day, I will certainly be happy to meet. If it is possible however to meet on the 27th or 30th, I will be able to satisfy additional interview requests that are anticipated on the 28th and 29th. Please advise and I will confirm whatever you decide.

After considerable back-and-forth Hodgson and Zadrozny settle on a date and time. Zadrozny wants to accommodate Hodgson’s participation in FAIR’s Hold their Feet to the Fire event:

Let’s do Friday 6/30 at 11:00 a.m. I want to free you up for Radio Row!

and Hodgson, ever the good soldier, is all set to report for duty:

That will be perfect! Thanks for understanding. Should I report to the same gate and what time for screening?

Meanwhile, Brock Cordeiro is still monitoring Google Alerts and up pops a Boston Globe op-ed entitled “Bristol County deserves a better sheriff than Hodgson.” Cordeiro forwards it to Hodgson, who sends it proudly to Miller and Zadrozny:

Proud to stand with the President and the majority of the American people on the rule of law and accountability. Particularly happy with the free advertising in the Sunday Globe.

Hooray! They hate me!

Miller doles out his praise in a single syllable:

thanks

In July 2017 Hodgson emails Miller and Zadrozny:

We will be filing a bill tomorrow that will authorize State and Local law enforcement as well as court officers, to make arrests/hold on ICE detainers. Will forward verbiage before the end of the day!

As it turns out, this is not an accurate description of the bill that is filed by Massachusetts Republicans. Not even close.

Miller:

Many thanks

Hodgson:

We are on the side of the angels!

Miller:

Yes

Hodgson and other Massachusetts Republicans had been frustrated by cities instructing their police departments to stay in their lane and leave ICE to the feds. They were also unhappy about the State Judicial Court’s Lunn decision, which forbade certain types of collusion with ICE. H.1107 was sponsored by Massachusetts Republican representatives James Lyons, Marc Lombardo, and Shaunna O’Connell to fight Lunn.

But rather than overturning municipal police policies or mandating police actions on ICE detainers, the bill simply punished any city that enacted municipal ordinances prohibiting collusion with ICE:

SECTION 1. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, any city or town which fails to enforce federal immigration laws shall not receive unrestricted general government aid, as prescribed by the general appropriations act; provided, quarterly payments of unrestricted general government aid to be disbursed to the city or town shall cease upon verification of the failure of the city or town to comply with federal immigration laws. Failure to comply with federal immigration laws shall include, but is not limited to, a declaration of “sanctuary city” status by the chief executive or executive board or legislative branch of the city or town.

Elisha Machado from WWLP News described the reaction the bill received:

But the bill was met with opposition. Several immigrant rights activists chanted “keep hate out of out state” as the bill’s sponsors held a press conference Wednesday.

In June of 2018 the Republican bill was sent to House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s shelves “for study,” where it was subject to standard bureaucratic asphyxiation. By January 2019 the bill was dead.

And what ever happened to Hodgson’s tale of overwhelming public support — and that thing about angels?

Self delusion from a True Believer.

Cheating the Commonwealth

On March 2, 2017 Jonathan Darling, Sheriff Thomas Hodgson’s Public Information Officer, sent him a couple of links of Hodgson performing in front of the cameras. Darling cc’d Brock Cordeiro, the former head of the Bristol County Tea Party who now works for Hodgson as an administrative aide and legislative liaison. Hodgson then forwarded the links to Stephen Miller, John Zadrozny, and Zina G. Bash at the White House.

One link was a video of NECN’s Sue O’Connell interviewing Hodgson about a speech Trump had given before both houses of Congress. In the video Hodgson praised Trump’s agenda, including Trump’s announcement of the construction of a great big beautiful wall. The second link was a NECN summary of the same.

This was apparently so important and pressing that it required the attention of three people from the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office and three people from the White House. But it was simply another instance of Hodgson marketing his brand to his betters.

We have previously met Stephen Miller and John Zadrozny, but not Zina Bash.

Bash is best known as the woman sitting behind Brett Kavanaugh at his 2018 confirmation hearings making distressed expressions and mouthing unintelligible phrases. She is a White House lawyer and a former law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Kavanaugh himself, and she worked on Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign. Bash is a “ridiculously rich” heiress and her father, Richard Gelman, released a film in 2017 called The Hoax of Man-Made Global Warming in which he called climate activists “hucksters” who “perpetrate a convenient lie.”

In other words, she had perfect credentials for working for Donald Trump.

At the White House, Bash worked on the Domestic Policy Council, the same anti-immigration office as Zadrozny. But, like many a Trump advisor, Bash has now moved on from her days reading self-congratulatory emails from local sheriffs.

But the email exchange was not yet finished. Hodgson then followed up to ask Zadrozny to find some “creative way” of paying Hodgson directly for 287(g) and IGSA participation so he could avoid having to reimburse the state for the costs of housing ICE detainees:

John, I have also spoken with and forward my thoughts about a secure account for the detention monies that Sheriffs generate through the immigration detention facilities. The legislator that has filed the bill in Massachusetts to restrict our involvement in 287G, is asking the Speaker to put it on a fast track. Please let me know if this option I have proposed is a possibility. If not, I will have to look for some other creative way of securing the federal revenue, so we can utilize it for the immigration initiatives. I will be in Washington, D.C. on March 26th through the 28th, so if you have availability, I would love to meet with you to discuss current situations and any strategies for advancing the agenda. Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office here in Mass will be meeting with ICE soon to discuss joining the 287G program. Slowly but surely we will bring them on!

With a sheriff like this, always looking for “creative ways” of securing funding, the Massachusetts legislature really ought to conduct a forensic audit of his department to determine how “creative” he really is.

Who is John Zadrozny?

More than four dozen of Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson’s White House letters were either to, from, or copied to Justice and Homeland Security Domestic Policy Council advisor John A. Zadrozny. In future posts we will be publishing Hodgson’s communications with Zadrozny, but in order to understand exactly who Hodgson knew he was dealing with, let’s look at Zadrozny’s background.

John Zadrozny was a former New York City Assistant District Attorney from 2003-2007 who then went to work for the Department of State. Zadrozny worked as deputy director of the State Department’s public liaison office and in the Bush White House’s office of National Drug Control Policy. He then served in the White House Domestic Policy Council, an office “that had appropriated from both the State Department and the National Security Council some authority over refugee admissions policy.” Zadrozny left the White House in 2009 to work as legislative counsel for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a group established by white supremacist John Tanton.

The revolving door opened again for Zadrozny as a lobbyist and then in a series of House and Senate positions culminating with a job as counsel for Ted Cruz from 2015-2017. Zadrozny’s white supremacist bona fides thus established, Donald Trump hired him to work under Stephen Miller with people like Tom Hodgson.

According to a profile of Zadrozny in Foreign Policy:

Zadrozny worked in the White House shop that reported to Miller, Trump’s virulently anti-immigration advisor who is considered the chief architect behind some of the administration’s most controversial policies. Miller advised Trump on his travel ban executive order and policy of separating parents and children trying to cross into the United States.

Zadrozny is also close to Andrew Veprek, the deputy assistant secretary of state for the embattled refugee bureau, according to former officials. Veprek has most recently come under fire for pushing to soften language on a United Nations resolution condemning racism, first reported by CNN.

Zadrozny and FAIR’s issue is not so much with illegal immigration as it is with any immigration by non-Europeans. The New York Times describes Zadrozny’s central role in blocking all refugee settlement:

John Zadrozny, a top official at United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, made the argument for simply lowering the ceiling to zero, a stance that was first reported by Politico.

In August 2019 Zadrozny went to work for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where together with USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli, he became responsible for weaponizing legal immigration.

Besides FAIR, Zadrozny has numerous links to other anti-immigrant groups and individuals. The Western States Center has constructed a network map of his primary connections (click on the image below for detail):

“My undercover units”

On February 22, 2017 Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson sent White House immigration advisor Stephen Miller an article that Robert Najmulski, a Law Enforcement liaison from the hate group FAIR, sent him.

The article concerned a Washington State Patrol officer who violated his agency’s policies:

“The Washington State Patrol has a policy to not stop, detain or interrogate or place an immigration hold on any person solely for the purpose of ascertaining immigration status or in any other way attempt to enforce federal immigration laws.”

Hodgson wrote to Miller complaining about state laws and police policies:

“So now we have police officers being threatened with discipline if they won’t violate our federal immigration laws as ordered by these defiant elected officials. So basically it boils down to a choice for our law enforcement officers, either commit a felony under federal law by harboring or concealing someone who the feds have told you is in the country illegally, or uphold the law and face disciplinary action, up to and including termination.”

Hodgson then boasted:

“My undercover units are poised and ready for whatever we can do to identify and expedite the arrest and removal of criminal illegal aliens. Our discussion regarding a hotline is clearly relevant.”

Despite the boast, Hodgson’s ICE officers are only authorized to perform 287(g) functions within his jail, and no BCSO officers are legally permitted to perform policing functions on any street in the Commonwealth. It is unclear whether Hodgson was referring to shutting down hotlines that warn immigrants, or whether this referred to establishing an ICE hotline to sheriffs.

In violation of the limitation on street patrols, eyewitnesses reported the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office participating in at least one ICE arrest in July 2019 on Brownell Avenue at Buttonwood Park in New Bedford. This should be investigated.

ACA inspections

On February 22, 2017 Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson wrote to White House immigration advisor Stephen Miller. Hodgson suggested that ICE rely on American Correctional Association (ACA) certifications instead of contracting out independent inspections of county ICE facilities with Intergovernmental Governmental Service Agreements (IGSA) like those in Bristol County.

For Hodgson this was a completely self-serving proposal because it would eliminate federal inspections of the Bristol County House of Corrections. It was also another (of many) efforts by the sheriff to curry favor from the Trump administration’s senior white supremacist.

But using ACA certifications would be a huge mistake. In 2001 the Boston Globe reported that “a closer look at the accreditation program of the American Correctional Association […] shows that it has routinely accredited facilities beset by charges of abuse or poor conditions. The facilities include one that was put into receivership following a federal lawsuit, and another set to close this year, and others found by courts to be operating in violation of the constitution.” Little has changed since then.

As a result, the ACA has a poor reputation in many states, and its 102nd president, Christopher Epps, was indicted on corruption charges for receiving kickbacks on contracts worth over $800 million. Epps is spending two decades in one of the facilities he ran — and audited.

Vanity photos

The nation’s right-wing sheriffs flock to the White House for vanity photos of themselves, often captured in embarrassing thrall to the President.

Among the many White House emails returned from the ACLU FOIA request to the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office, there are at least fifty that include photos of Tom Hodgson in rapt attention to the stirring insights of Donald Trump, who is naturally pictured in one holding a photo of his border wall.

These taxpayer-funded photo-ops are meat for the President and manna for the sheriffs. But sometimes even the dozens of photos offered by the White House are not enough to satisfy the vanity of the Stetson-costumed supplicants. Here Hodgson’s media assistant Jonathan Darling is found begging for even more photos:

Unreported in-kind campaign donations from WBSM

Emails were not the only product of the ACLU’s FOIA request to the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO). Eventually, the BCSO had to cough up travel documents and Tweets as well.

When the ACLU asked for Twitter records from accounts @Sheriff_Hodgson and @BCSO1, the Sheriff’s Office initially tried to avoid producing the documents by changing the account handles to @SheriffHodgson and @BristolSheriff. But ACLU counsel threatened to sue. So the BCSO responded like a child with grainy, low-quality screenshots of a surprisingly small number of private communications.

But rather than discussing programs for rehabilitating his prisoners — surprise! — Hodgson’s private Tweets were almost all about scheduling media appearances to spread his anti-immigrant gospel and to market his own “brand.” And the many free media opportunities Hodgson was (and is) given to develop his “brand” represent nothing more than unreported “in-kind” campaign contributions.

The majority of Hodgson’s Tweets were to and from local radio station WBSM 1420, which features mainly right-wing bloviators like Barry Richard, Ken Pittman, Howie Carr, and Chris McCarthy. And they were all from radio host Chris McCarthy — whose job it is to feed Hodgson stories to comment on:

Tom should see this ASAP (23 Jan 2017)

McCarthy strokes Hodgson’s ego by comparing him to the president:

The Sheriff and you as his media person changed the national conversation in the way only a President can usually move an issue. Tremendous job. (28 Mar 2017)

McCarthy passes along an article by Howie Carr lambasting acting U.S. Atty. William Weinreb for Hodgson to read:

Jonathan- Howie wanted to make sure TH saw this column (4 May 2017)

McCarthy then directs Hodgson to an interview he did with Michele McPhee, who has just been a guest on his show — before he discusses it with Hodgson:

J – I interviewed Michele McPhee about her book on the Marathon Bombing yesterday. She discusses UMass Dartmouth and the bombing and I hope you can share this with Tom. She names a UMD professor. (15 May 2017)

We learn that, besides Jonathan Darling, BCSO legislative liaison Brock Cordeiro also handles Hodgson’s media work. Hodgson does not simply do radio interviews, he has a radio schedule:

Hi Chris, I’m out of the office this week. Brock is handling this stuff and has his radio schedule for the next few days. Give him a hollar at brockcordeiro@bcso-ma.org or send him a facebook message. Good luck — Jonathan (23 Jun 2017)

At Hodgson’s request, Darling suggests to McCarthy that he give Hodgson a regular spot on his show:

Hi Chris, Congrats on the new show. Sheriff asked me to get in touch. He mentioned you wanted him to come on sometime. Right now, our best bet is a call in tomorrow or an in-studio on Tuesday or Wednesday. Also, if you want to set something regular up, say every Friday or every other Wednesday or the first Thursday of the month or whatever, we’re open to that as well. — Jonathan (3 Jan 2018)

McCarthy acknowledges the amount of work they do together:

Jonathan – we do enough together to have you call or text me – my number is 781-308-5662 – send me a text when you have a moment so we can communicate rapidly when needed. Thanks

Remember those unreported “in-kind” campaign contributions.

Sometimes McCarthy tries to elicit information or get Hodgson to speculate on local politics:

Thanks – I’m hearing the same thing. I understand the Commies at the Coalition for Social Justice are going to run SEIU organizer Lisa Lemieux in the special. (2 Feb 2017)

and

Off the record: Have you heard anything about Jill Ussach running for the open NB Ward 3 CC seat? (2 Feb 2017)

Darling replies:

Hi Chris, Consensus of some of the clued-in folks around here is she’s no doubt interested, but if she actually pulls the papers and runs is another story.

In another Tweet Darling refers McCarthy to an order form for a t-shirt a local group produced for its visit to the governor to lobby for an investigation into Hodgson’s abuses:

Hey Chris. Tom wanted me to send this to you: He can’t wait to get a t-shirt: bccjustice.wordpress.com/2018/09/29/baker-is-the-new-orange (1 Oct 2018)

But Hodgson is a self-anointed “expert” on everything from Iran to MS-13. So Darling offers Hodgson as an anti-marijuana spokesman:

Hi Chris. Sheriff was interviewed by the herald today about that stoned kid who hit the school bus in Gloucester. Just wanted to let you and the other radio guys know he’s available to take the anti-weed side if anyone’s interested. Thanks, and merry Christmas. — Jonathan (21 Dec 2016)

At one point McCarthy sends Hodgson a private text about New Bedford City Councilman Hugh Dunn’s letter to the state legislature on marijuana dispensaries — to feed Hodgson answers for a forthcoming interview:

I sent TH a text with the letter NB CC Hugh Dunn sent to the state legislature asking them to change the law on local control. This story is going to be big and I wanted Tom to have all the information in advance of the media. (1 Jun 2017)

Darling replies:

Awesome. Thx Chris. We will be ready for it when it hits. (1 Jun 2017)

Darling sends sheriff A. J. Louderback a photo of himself with Trump — possibly under the assumption Louderback loves vanity photos as much as Hodgson:

Sheriff, I thought this was a nice picture. It’s from the Associated Press from Friday’s meeting. Catch up soon — Jonathan. (14 Jan)

Darling sends McCarthy a Tweet thanking him for Hodgson’s chance to vent on his favorite topics:

Hi Chris, just wanted to follow up and say thanks for having the Sheriff on this morning. Trump, immigration, Elizabeth Warren … he was in heaven. Anytime you want to chat again on Herald of BSM, just drop us a line …. thanks, Jonathan (1 Dec 2016)

McCarthy returns the compliment, sending Hodgson a link to a press release from Hamilton Strategies:

Jonathan, I just spoke with the Sheriff and scheduled him to call in to Boston Herald radio this Friday morning at 7:20am to discuss this press release: hamiltonstrategies.com/news/open-letter… (14 Dec 2016)

A word on Hamilton Strategies.

Hamilton Strategies advertises itself as a “mission-driven, full-service communications firm serving Christian non-profit organizations” which exists to: “connect ministries with media, engage Christians in the culture and inspire all to share the miracle of Jesus Christ throughout the world.”

Hamilton Strategies is also a propaganda center for Islamophobia and Homophobia.

McCarthy’s item for discussion is the interfaith celebration of an “Anti-Hate” event at the Islamic Society of Boston. Hamilton Strategies has issued a press release blasting liberal Jews and Christians who attended the event, including Marty Walsh and Elizabeth Warren, and has accused the Islamic Center of being a “terror-linked, Saudi-funded radical mega-mosque.”

McCarthy also wants to link the Islamic Center with a terror attack [that never happened] on a mall in Attleboro. Once again McCarthy feeds an article to Hodgson like somebody fed SAT answers to Felicity Huffman’s daughter:

There is a section in the press release that mentions a planned machine gun attack on a “mall in Attleboro, MA” which we will be asking about. counterjihad.com/terror-experts… (14 Dec 2016)

The author of the article for discussion is Paul Sperry, part of a “Counter-Jihad” network with connections to every Islamophobic organization in America.

Thanks, ACLU. Keep the FOIA requests coming.

Taxpayer-funded racism

If you spent most of your time at work on the computer working for a hate group, you’d find yourself unemployed in a heartbeat. But not Tom Hodgson.

This long sequence of email shows Hodgson not only organizing anti-immigrant work on company time and coordinating it with Stephen Miller, but also working within the Massachusetts Sheriff’s Association — a state-funded group — with MSA Executive Director James Walsh to fight enforcement of the SCJ Lunn decision and to oppose the Attorney General’s civil rights initiatives. Hodgson is also shown coordinating anti-immigrant work with Jonathan Thompson of the National Sheriff’s Association — another right-wing lobbying group whose conventions taxpayers pay MA sheriffs to attend.

Together with Walsh and Hodgson, the Plymouth County sheriff is also one of the co-authors of a “Dear Representative” letter advocating unspecified changes to HB.4011 — 89 pages of criminal justice changes submitted to the MA House Ways & Means Committee on November 6, 2017. In another email Hodgson suggests making the RMV into a refugee-sniffing agency.

Hodgson forwards all of this — for extra-credit, apparently — to Stephen Miller, noting “Doing Fox business 6:20pm regarding Sheriffs speaking out strongly in support of President Trump. Will of course be wearing my ‘Sheriffs for Trump Hat'”

In another email of October 18, 2017 Hodgson organizes (on county letterhead) sheriffs to attend “a major event in Washington D.C. to show the public, and Congress, that the Sheriffs are here and we mean business.”

“I am proposing that Sheriffs from across our great country meet in Washington D.C. as a unified, united group of trusted public safety officials to meet with Congressional leaders on immigration reform. We will hold a press conference on the steps ofthe U.S. Capital and meet with lawmakers to express our concerns, the concerns of our citizens and legal residents.”

Hodgson has an inflated view of his popularity:

“We are the most trusted elected officials in the United States of America, and it is our duty to use that trust to orchestrate positive and effective change.”

Hodgson dutifully follows up with the White House on November 13, 2017:

“First let me tell you that we are in a holding pattern on the Sheriffs initiative to Washington, D. C. as our Major County Sheriff’s ongoing work with the Attorney General’s Office is pending and there was a concern that we not create any distraction while waiting for the final decision from DOJ on the changes for holding on ICE detainers. The enclosed information I am sending is something I believe will enhance our efforts to support the President’s agenda to more quickly and comprehensively remove criminal illegal aliens. The beauty of these new and recently proven techniques shifts the argument of immigration enforcement to enforcement of felony crimes relating to fraudulent identifications.”

Hodgson describes an “imposter detection” protocol he has come up with, apparently developed in concert with Attleboro police data and Saugus police officer James Scott. Hodgson’s brainstorm is accompanied by PowerPoints that he, no doubt, developed after-hours in his Dartmouth home office after all his demanding work rehabilitating prisoners was complete.

One wishes. All this was done on the taxpayers’ dime.

Finally, Hodgson just can’t help groveling before his white supremacist leaders:

“Great Victory for our President on the passage of the Tax reform initiative and a masterful performance in reclaiming America’s respect around the world during his Asian visit. Keep up the great work. You could certainly qualify as a top notch architect in your next life! Hope to hear from you soon.”

ACLU sues Hodgson

In March 2019, ACLUM submitted a public records request to the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO). Among other things, the request sought information about a recent state audit of the BCSO, various financial records, social media records and policies, and communications between the BCSO and the White House and Secret Service. After BCSO did not provide a timely response, ACLUM engaged the law firm Foley Hoag LLP to seek the records on its behalf. The BCSO ultimately produced records between May and September 2019, including correspondence between Sheriff Hodgson and White House advisor Stephen Miller.

On December 4, 2019, Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham published a piece examining what these email records reveal about the relationship between Bristol County Sheriff Hodgson and the White House.