Even before he was accused of secretly recording his ex-girlfriend naked with another man, Richard Pimental faced criminal charges that could have disqualified him from working as a Plymouth firefighter.

Pimental, 31, was placed on paid administrative leave in November after Fire Chief Neil Foley told Plymouth police that two co-workers, one of whom was his ex-girlfriend, alleged they were secretly videorecorded by Pimental.

He allegedly shared a short graphic video with at least one co-worker, the police report says.

Pimental, hired as a firefighter in January 2018, pleaded not guilty on Jan. 16, and appeared at Plymouth District Court Wednesday, Feb. 21, for a pre-trial hearing. The judge scheduled another hearing for April 16.  

Neither he nor his lawyer, Peter Maguire, responded to requests for comment.

But the January arraignment was not the first time Pimental appeared before a judge.

In 2010, he was accused of stealing assorted merchandise, including condoms, knives, and DVDs, from the Plymouth Walmart in Colony Place by blocking out bar codes with duct tape. (He had a juvenile accomplice, who is now also a Plymouth firefighter.)

In 2016, he was charged with speeding, and driving without insurance and a suspended license.

Those relatively minor charges were dismissed.

But 10 months into his year-long probationary employment period, Pimental was arrested on a drunk driving charge.

That could have ended his career as a firefighter before it really began, according to a legal expert and civil service rulings. But it didn’t.

On Oct. 7, 2018, at 2:50 a.m. a Bourne state trooper found Pimental asleep at the wheel in the breakdown lane of Route 3 North in Plymouth — with the motor running and the lights on. The car was still moving and struck a cement barricade, according to the police report.

Shouting “sir” to wake him, the trooper ordered Pimental to put the vehicle in park. Instead, he turned on the heat. When the trooper repeated the instruction, the report said, Pimental turned up the radio volume.  

He agreed to take breathalyzer tests, which registered readings of .107 percent and .114 percent – both over the Massachusetts legal limit of .08 percent.

After automatically losing his license for 30 days, Pimental was facing likely termination from his firefighting job. Instead, he resigned, according to former Fire Chief Ed Bradley.

This is where the story gets more complicated.

Pimental, a US Army veteran, was able to invoke a state law, called the Brave Act, which allows veterans accused of certain crimes, including driving under the influence, to have charges against them dismissed.

Under the law, the veteran must have a “clinically diagnosed traumatic brain injury, mental illness, or substance abuse disorder” directly linked to his military service.

At a court hearing, Pimental was described as being classified 50 percent disabled by the Veterans Administration and thus eligible for Brave Act relief. His lawyer did not describe his disability.

Eligible veterans are required to follow a treatment plan or the charges against them will be reinstated.

A month after Pimental was arrested, the case was dismissed, and he got his driver’s license back.

But he was no longer a Plymouth firefighter.

Pimental took another civil service test, however, and as with any disabled veteran, his name automatically shot to the top of the list.  

Even though the town could have chosen to hire someone else, Bradley said there was no discussion of bypassing him for another candidate. He was re-hired on August 5, 2019.  

“He had graduated from the fire academy and was certified. He was all set to go to work,” said Bradley. Pimental was a good firefighter, he added.

Plymouth Fire Chief Neil Foley says that the town is not allowed to ask applicants about a criminal case that didn’t result in a conviction. Credit: (Plymouth Fire Dept.)

According to current fire chief Neil Foley, the town checks job applicants’ criminal histories, but is not permitted to ask about any case that didn’t result in a conviction. All charges against Pimental were ultimately dismissed.

Foley also said that a veteran classified as 50 percent disabled can work as a full-time firefighter as long as he or she can pass medical and physical ability tests.

Even so, the town could have declined to hire him back, according to Brian E. Simoneau, a Marlborough-based lawyer experienced in drunk driving and civil service cases.

“The dismissal of the charges doesn’t un-ring the bell or mean that it didn’t happen,” he said. “The arrest and breath test failure would have been sufficient grounds to bypass him.”  

Several state Civil Service Commission decisions have upheld a community’s right to bypass an applicant based on a previous OUI, especially if the employee is a public safety officer, who, the Commission has written, should be held to a high standard.

Now, Pimental – who made $100,984 in fiscal year 2023 – is charged with two counts of disseminating photos of an unsuspecting person in the nude and two counts of illegal wiretapping.  He faces the possibility of up to 10 years in prison and tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

He also faces an outside probe by an investigation firm hired by the town.

The firm, Matthews & Matthews — led by two former state police officials — will review the allegations and determine whether Pimental should be disciplined or terminated, according to town manager Derek Brindisi.

The case began when one of the victims, who lived with Pimental until they broke up in February 2023, discovered a camera hidden in a new alarm clock on her bedside table in early October.

She searched other rooms and found a new “plug wall charger with USB options” that also appeared to have a camera in the face of the charger, police wrote in their report.  

The woman, who is not identified in court documents, also found a “suspicious device” on a dresser in a basement bedroom.

On Nov. 21, 2023, Chief Foley alerted Plymouth police that he was investigating “a situation” that he believed could implicate a firefighter in criminal conduct.  

A Plymouth Police detective responded to the Manomet fire station, where the two alleged victims reported being secretly videotaped by Pimental.

The detective asked Pimental to turn over his cellphone. At first, he refused, but complied after being threatened with arrest, according to the police report.  

On the phone, police found an explicit 12-second video showing a naked man bending over to pick up a pair of underwear while a naked woman slaps him on the butt.

A forensic examination of Pimental’s cell phone later turned up incriminating texts between Pimental and another emergency responder, police wrote in their report.

Those texts indicated that even after the victim found a camera in early October and confronted Pimental, there was at least one other camera still in the house.

In one text thread from Oct. 18, 2023, according to police, a paramedic friend of Pimental’s texted, “Do you still have the cameras up” to which Pimental allegedly replied, “Oh yeah and she doesn’t suspect it.”

Town officials would not comment on the charges against Pimental, citing their ongoing investigation.

 Andrea Estes can be reached at andrea@plymouthindependent.org.

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