Probation officer accused of trading handgun for sex
By Andy Rosen and John R. Ellement
Globe Staff

FRAMINGHAM — A state probation employee allegedly traded a handgun for sex with a woman who had several open cases at the courthouse where he worked, in a case that came to light after police found the weapon on a suspected drug dealer.

Paul F. Collins, 62, stood before a judge Friday to face the allegations in Framingham District Court — where until recently he had been working as an associate probation officer, a role in which his duties included recording the dispositions of court hearings.

The Revere resident, whose attorney said he has been married 38 years, is now on leave, and was ordered held on $35,000 bail after pleading not guilty to charges of carrying a firearm without a license, conspiracy, trafficking in firearms, and possession of ammunition without a license.

Collins was identified in a 2010 Boston Globe Spotlight report as one of the people who donated to House Speaker Robert DeLeo and were hired by the probation department. He donated $4,300 to the Winthrop Democrat in 2002 and 2008, state records show.

According to a police report filed in court, the 26-year-old woman said she had been seeing Collins for about a year. She allegedly told investigators that he “would try and hold her close, kiss her face, pull her shirt open, and try to look down the shirt.’’

“He would also ask her to wear shorts, not to talk to anyone else at the courthouse in front of him,’’ the documents said, adding that the woman said he was “stalking her, and would drive by her house in the morning to see if her car was there.’’

One of Collins’s colleagues allegedly told Framingham police that he believed probation department staff were aware of the relationship. That same co-worker also told police he believed Collins had spoken in court on the woman’s behalf three or four months ago, the court documents said.

Probation department spokeswoman Coria Holland said Collins has been placed on administrative leave, and that his role did not involve the direct supervision of cases.

Holland said Collins had worked for the probation department since 2008; his attorney said he worked for the state for two decades He is scheduled to earn $52,842 in 2016, according to state payroll records.

Defense attorney Justin Wing, who represented Collins in court Friday, said little links him to the case beyond the woman’s word and an alleged photo of the gun found on her phone.

“These are just allegations,’’ Wing said. “That’s all they are.’’

Collins allegedly gave the gun to the woman before the arrest last month of Carlos Santos, 25, who prosecutors said was carrying the gun illegally along with drugs.

The woman told investigators that she only had the gun for about an hour or two before she allegedly traded it for drugs, court documents said. Collins’s colleague told investigators he believed Collins gave her the gun about two weeks before Santos’s arrest.

Collins had allegedly told his colleague that he had given the woman a gun and that he was having sex with her. After the arrest, the colleague asked Collins what would happen if Santos told investigators where he had gotten the gun.

“She won’t rat on me,’’ Collins told his colleague, according to court documents.

Prosecutors say the gun was registered to Collins, and that he said it had been stolen in 1990. His license to carry expired in 1999, court documents say.

Police questioned the woman four days after her June 10 arrest on charges of operating with a suspended license. Collins’s colleague told investigators that Collins had told him that he was working with her in the case, according to the police report.

The court documents also say that the co-worker told Collins to “stay out of it,’’ but later saw Collins talking to a judge in a courtroom where the woman was awaiting a hearing.

In the interview with police, the woman allegedly told investigators that Collins said he was in love with her. She also said he had told him he would “blow off his wife’’ for her.

In court, Wing characterized Collins as “happily married,’’ noted that he had been with his wife for more than half of his life. Wing said his client has children who are employed by the court system.

The 2010 Spotlight series on the probation department triggered state and federal investigations of “systemic corruption’’ and “pervasive fraud’’ in hiring by then-Commissioner John J. O’Brien, who chose politically connected individuals using a farce hiring process.

DeLeo was not charged, but was identified by US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office as an unindicted co-conspirator during O’Brien’s trial, which led to his conviction on federal corruption charges. O’Brien is free pending an appeal.

DeLeo has vigorously denied acting improperly during the probation case.

Andy Rosen can be reached at John R. Ellement can be reached at