Updated, 2:39 p.m.: Comment from Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik.
NORWALK, Conn. — A pair of Norwalk Police officers who were arrested Tuesday have a child together, according to a police affidavit. The infant was in the female officer’s car, along with an adult who is not in the department, early during the officer’s Oct. 9 shift.
The officers had been drinking before their shift and continued while on duty, the affidavit states. They failed to respond to calls as midnight approached and were found in a hotel early Oct. 10.
Officers Michael DiMeglio, 38, and Sara Laudano, 31, surrendered themselves Tuesday evening at Norwalk Police Headquarters and were served with arrest warrants stemming from the incident, a press release said. Both were charged with larceny second degree and reckless endangerment second degree. Laudano was also charged with risk of injury to a child. Both had bail of $75,000 each, the affidavit states.
NancyOnNorwalk has made two attempts to contact a lawyer said to represent DiMeglio but has not been successful. NoN has not been told who represents Laudano.
Lt. Dave O’Connor, police union president, said he has not had the chance to review the affidavits and could not comment. “They’re entitled to presumption of innocence, and they’re entitled to due process,” he said.
Sgt. Stefanos Kalmanides reports in his Dec. 30 affidavit that Laudano was on duty Oct. 9 for her regular shift from 4 p.m. to midnight. DiMeglio was working 4 p.m. to midnight on overtime, filling in because of manpower shortages. Both had agreed two days earlier to also work overtime from midnight to 4 a.m. Oct. 10 to fill in because of staffing shortages.
Investigators identified the female friend from video surveillance footage and Facebook posts, Kalmanides explains in the affidavit. Much of the testimony in the affidavit is from the friend, with video footage, DNA tests and fingerprints offered as confirming evidence, along with accounts of testimony from restaurant personnel and store managers.
Investigators learned that before coming to work, Laudano met the friend for lunch at Donavan’s on Washington Street, according to Kalmanides. The friend told them that Laudano “just had a baby and was not in a very good place in her home life.” The baby was with them in the restaurant, and DiMeglio, the baby’s father, arrived at about 3:30 p.m., “20-30 minutes prior to the start of their shift,” the friend told police.
Laudano had two beers during the visit and DiMeglio consumed one, the friend reported according to Kalmanides. The bartender treated the trio to Peanut Butter shots, and restaurant staff also drank shots. DiMeglio and Laudano left 10-15 minutes before the start of their shift, and the friend walked down the road to police headquarters at about 4:15 p.m., with the baby in a stroller, meeting the officers in the side parking lot.
They “all had a beer” while sitting in the side lot, after the officers’ shift began, Kalmanides reports the friend saying. DiMeglio “had poured a beer into a coffee cup and drank from it,” the affidavit states. “Laudano drank a beer from a can while seated in the open trunk area ·of her patrol SUV.”
The friend also said Laudano took a hit from a vaping device while in the police headquarters parking lot, inhaling THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), Kalmanides said.
DiMeglio signed out one Ford Crown Victoria patrol vehicle but switched to a different Crown Vic before leaving headquarters at 5:42 p.m. He responded to a 5:38 p.m. report of a burglary alarm, arriving there at 5:57 p.m. As part of that call, DiMeglio had his service pistol out and “at the ready.”
The affidavit describes the use of the gun as not unusual, except that DiMeglio had been drinking.
Laudano and the friend left the department’s side parking lot in the black Ford Explorer at 5:37 p.m., after DiMeglio had helped secure the baby in a child seat in the back of the patrol car, and at 5:42 p.m. Laudano stopped near Budget Liquor Store at 542 West Ave., the affidavit states. The friend went in and bought a six-pack of Blue Point Mother Pumpkin Ale beer and four-pack of Ithaca Flower Power cans, using Laudano’s credit card. Laudano had said she’d drink it after her shift, Kalmanides reports the friend as saying.
From there, Laudano did a U-Turn and went to Sedona Taphouse, in the Waypointe complex, where the friend got out with the baby and had dinner with Laudano’s wife, according to the affidavit. The wife took custody of the baby and returned the friend to her car at police headquarters. The friend then met Laudano in the parking lot behind High Road School, at 17 North Ave.
When the friend arrived, DiMeglio and Laudano were there having a beer in the patrol SUV, the affidavit reports the friend as saying. DiMeglio left for a meal break then came back about an hour later and had another beer. Laudano had two beers.
The affidavit says the SUV’s Automatic Vehicle Locating system (AVL) shows Laudano in the High Road lot from approximately 6:34 to 10:26 p.m.
While there, she claimed to be responding to a noise complaint, a report of an SUV parked in front of a home playing loud music with people yelling and screaming, the affidavit states. She later informed the dispatcher that it could be cleared with a “GOA” code, signifying that the people causing the noise were “gone on arrival.” This does not require a police report.
At 10:04 p.m. she was given a property damage complaint to investigate, Kalmanides reports. Laudano cleared that with dispatch at 11:30 p.m., after leaving High Road at 10:26 p.m. and spending $25.12 on hair products in a Main Avenue CVS at 11:02 p.m.
The friend reported that she believed Laudano was also expected to work later that morning, after her overtime shift ended at 4 a.m., according to Kalmanides. The time between her assignments was short and Laudano didn’t want to go home to her wife, so DiMeglio used points to book at room at the Even Hotel at 426 Main Ave. DiMeglio made the reservation online at 10:15 p.m., and checked in at 11:11 p.m. Laudano met him outside.
Laudano laid down on the bed for a couple of minutes, fell asleep and woke up when two sergeants banged on the door, realizing that she’d missed a phone call, the friend said, according to Kalmanides.
Dispatchers had attempted to send her to a loitering complaint that appeared to be unfounded, a report that cars and motorcycles were racing in a Connecticut Avenue parking lot, Kalmanides wrote. Not able to reach her, police used AVL to track Laudano’s SUV; at 1 a.m. Oct. 10, Sgt. Jeffrey Proudfoot and Sgt. Garrett Kruger found it in the hotel’s front lot, Kalmanides wrote. A six-pack cardboard container of “Blue Point Mother Pumpkin Ale” beer and a black plastic four pack holder, commonly used to hold four packs of IPA beers, was plainly visible in the car’s front seat. Also visible were Laudano’s bulletproof vest carrier and body camera.
DiMeglio’s patrol car, not equipped with AVL, was also parked at the hotel. A hotel manager directed Proudfoot and Kruger to room 302, the affidavit states. When DiMeglio opened the door, his uniform shirt was untucked, he was barefoot and not wearing his duty belt. He asked, “Did I miss a call?”
He said Laudano was in the bathroom, according to Kalmanides. They were told to get dressed and return to police headquarters.
Norwalk Police Deputy Chief James Walsh subsequently reviewed the AVL data and on the evening of Oct. 14, found beer containers in the lot behind High Road, consistent with the six-packs found in her car, the affidavit states. The next morning, in daylight, Lt. Thomas Mattera and Detective Daniel Serio found more: “another empty bottle of Blue Point Mother Pumpkin Ale beer and two separate broken bottles of Blue Point Mother Pumpkin Ale beer, as well as labels from Blue Point Mother Pumpkin Ale.” DNA tests link the officers to the beer cans and DiMeglio’s fingerprint was found on one, according to Kalmanides.
DiMeglio’s radio transmissions from Oct. 9 indicate that he responded to three other calls during his shift, but there’s no evidence to support this, the affidavit states. There’s no AVL data and the complainants for each of the three calls “indicated they did not have personal contact with a responding officer,” the affidavit states. “They were also unable to confirm or deny whether a patrol car responded to the call.”
One was a noise complaint, the second is listed as “other investigation” and the third was a parking violation.
Laudano was paid $41.07 an hour for her regular shift and $66.1227 for the overtime shift, receiving compensation for services not rendered, the affidavit states. DiMeglio was also paid $66.1227 an hour for his overtime, not performing his job.
Previous problem, extra duty assigments
DiMeglio had been found sleeping on-duty March 14 during a midnight shift, the affidavit states. This was discovered when DiMeglio didn’t answer a radio call dispatching him to a report of a suspicious person. He was driving the Crown Vic without AVL, which officers found 20 minutes later, parked at his Norwalk home, not in his assigned patrol area.
“Officer Dimeglio stated he had gone home to get something to eat and fell asleep. Officer Dimeglio was taken off the overtime payroll and relieved of his duties,” the affidavit states.
DiMeglio earned $222,136.78 in 2019 as a Norwalk Police officer, $83,716.59 was from his regular salary and the rest earned through overtime and extra duty assignments. Laudano earned $176,492.74.
Officers doing extra duty work are paid by the private contractors and utility companies that hire them, police have said. The city takes a 15 percent administrative fee for these extra-work contracts.
Laudano and DiMeglio “gave up a lot of their free time to work and made a pretty fair living to do that,” O’Connor said. They did it standing on their feet on a road, putting in hard hours.
“The Police Union Contract allows officers to work a maximum of 16 hours in each 24 hour period. There is ample off duty time for officers to take care of personal business,” Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik said Friday.
Will others face discipline because of the incident?
“An Internal Investigation will be conducted regarding the incident and I will review those findings,” Kulhawik said.
DiMeglio and Laudano have been on administrative leave, unable to earn overtime hours, and will “shortly” go on unpaid leave while the arrests work through the system, O’Connor said.
“That’s what the contract is. That’s what it allows us to do, and also what it allows management to do,” he said. “I feel badly that they went from making so much money” to unpaid leave. “The families that depend on them are now going to be the ones who are suffering the most for their alleged indiscretions.”