Fired Corrections Officer Claims Retaliation, Files Ethics Complaint Against Helen Hanks

Print More

Facebook photo

Eileen Meaney, DOC’s human resources director, stirred controversy posting this selfie on her Facebook page.


CONCORD – Department of Corrections Commissioner Helen Hanks is under new scrutiny for allegedly retaliating against an officer who reported misconduct, setting off a chain of events that would ultimately end in his firing based on trumped up evidence, according to documents.

Thomas Macholl’s complaint to the Executive Branch Ethics Committee claims Hanks initiated an internal investigation the same day he reported Eileen Meaney, DOC’s human resources director, for violating department policy with a selfie she took at a memorial service for a dead officer.

“This internal investigation is clearly in retaliation for reporting a director violating two separate policies and procedures. The catalyst for this investigation was the sending of that email reporting those violations, arguably in violation of the whistleblower statutes. It is highly unethical for the commissioner to initiate this internal affairs investigation against me,” Macholl wrote in his complaint.

Macholl is still waiting to get his job back after he was fired last year in a separate investigation alleging he used excessive force on an inmate. That allegation was found lacking when investigated by the Public Integrity Unit for the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office. The PIU investigation instead uncovered serious misdeeds by DOC leaders, including hiding evidence that cleared Macholl.

The DOC did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

Macholl, a veteran corrections officer and law enforcement professional, told he got along well with Hanks and other leaders inside DOC until he reported Meaney’s Facebook post. As a union steward, Macholl worked with DOC leaders on recruitment, helping other officers bring their ideas to craft new recruitment efforts, he said.

“I got to know the commissioner pretty well,” Macholl said. “I had the commissioner in my office and I was making her cappuccinos.”

But that friendly relationship changed when he reported Meaney, he said. Meaney, who is a civilian, posted a photo of herself wearing a Corrections Officer uniform hat in a comical manner in January of last year. That photo was still on her Facebook page as of Monday morning.

The problem for correction officers inside DOC is the seeming disrespect Meaney was showing in the photo. Worse, the members told Macholl, it appears the photo was taken at the hotel in Manchester where the memorial service of Officer Lawrence Prather. Prather died alone while on duty in January of last year after suffering an apparent heart attack.

Officers were unhappy with Meaney’s selfie, and went to Macholl as their union representative. Macholl sent an email to Hanks, Assistant Commissioner Paul Raymond, and others on Feb. 9, 2023, complaining about the photo. 

“In my over 30 years of law enforcement I have never seen a more unprofessional act by a high ranking administrator,” Macholl wrote in his Feb. 9 email.

Aside from the distasteful setting of the silly photo, Meaney violated the rules against civilians wearing uniforms in public, according to Macholl. She also broke the rule against identifying herself as a DOC employee on her personal social media page. Meaney’s Facebook account still lists her employment with DOC as of Monday.

“The Director of personnel should be well aware of the uniform regulations of the agency that employed her,” Macholl wrote in the Feb. 9 email. 

Hours after sending that email, Hanks responded by informing Macholl he was under investigation for various alleged violations.

“I was put under investigation for every computer policy the department has,” Macholl said.

Hanks also filed a union grievance against Macholl with SEA President Rich Gull, though her grievance was denied based on the facts.

“The grievance was denied based on the facts that I was acting in my capacity as a union steward/executive officer and reporting a violation and concerns,” Macholl wrote in his complaint. 

The investigation into the computer policy violations was never resolved, Macholl writes in his ethics complaint. Under DOC policy, the investigation has to be done in 45 days, or an extension has to be authorized. When he was fired 65 days later in the excessive force investigation, Macholl writes there was no notice about an extension in the computer case. 

Macholl was cleared in the excessive force case, and the Personnel Appeals Board ordered him back to work in March. The DOC is appealing that decision. Macholl wrote in his ethics complaint the excessive force investigation never would have happened without his complaint about Meaney’s social media. Macholl included the PIU report, and the PAB ruling in his ethics complaint, noting it demonstrates the unethical behavior of DOC leadership.

The complaint was heard last week by the committee, though no decision has yet been issued. 

Comments are closed.