Thanks for the Water Cooler Memories

Reporter's Notebook

Most everyone in the Harvard Police Department thought last month's trial of two University security guards was an embarassment. The guards were acquitted of what many officers said were trumped-up charges that they stole two Poland Springs water coolers from the Law School.

But the man who lost the most face in the trial sounds, at least, like he had the time of his life. Police Lt. John F. Rooney, the head of the criminal investigation division who directed the probe of what has been dubbed "Watercoolergate," seems almost sorry to see the case go.

Rooney, who testified for the prosecution, was taken apart on the stand by William P. Homans '41, the attorney for guard George Perry. Under intense cross-examination, Rooney acknowledged that information he submitted in a sworn affidavit to obtain a search warrant in the case proved to be false.

But from reading a December 28 letter from Rooney to Middlesex Country District Attorney Thomas Reilly, which was obtained by The Crimson, one would think the lieutenant had just been to the circus.

The letter was written to Reilly to commend Marc Eichler, the assistant district attorney assigned to the case.


"Mark [sic] thoroughly reviewed the entire case and diligently, professionally and enthusiastically prepared the matter for trial," Rooney wrote. "Although the defendants were ultimately acquitted after a bench trial before the Honorable Judge Gonzales [sic], it was through no lack of effort on the prosecutor's part!"

Calling Eichler enthusiastic is a stretch. The assistant district attorney, realizing that Rooney's investigation had provided him with nothing remotely resembling a case, badly wanted to settle and go on with his life. He even offered to dismiss the matter without a finding (essentially letting the guards off scot-free)--and was turned down.

"I would like to extend my sincerely [sic] thanks to Mark [sic] for the assistance, patience and perseverance he exhibited on this matter," Rooney continued. "Mark [sic] is a competent professional and an asset to your office. I look forward to working with him on future cases."

One wonders if the feeling is mutual.