Guard charged with threats

December 15, 2006
By

JOHN RUCH

A Jamaica Plain security guard, who was also a Suffolk County deputy sheriff, has been charged by the FBI with sending letters threatening the life of his boss at Tufts-New England Medical Center.

Patrick K. O’Neil, 55, of 15 Arcola St., allegedly threatened violence unless the medical center’s security director, Thomas Atkinson Jr., was fired.

O’Neil was named a deputy sheriff in 2003 to give him arrest powers only while at the medical center, a title and authority that have been revoked since his own arrest, according to Steve Tompkins of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department.

Some of the letters included a news clipping about a restaurant worker who stabbed a manager to death, and one commented, “Little does he [Atkinson] know how close he is to an ice pick in his lung or kidney,” according to an FBI complaint. Another letter suggested a plan to pay a “homeless drug attic [sic]” to stab Atkinson.

According to the FBI complaint, O’Neil allegedly confessed to sending the series of letters in October, and also allegedly acknowledged he quit his medical center job to avoid the FBI investigation. That was only after he had denied involvement in a previous FBI interview at his Arcola Street apartment, the complaint says.

But after O’Neil’s alleged confession, the complaint says, another letter was sent on Dec. 4 to Atkinson’s house. The letter was written on the back of one of Atkinson’s pay stubs and described how the anonymous author and two friends had made two visits to Atkinson’s house. “Ain’t no lock made that I can’t open,” the letter allegedly says.

O’Neil has been charged with sending that letter. The FBI is attempting to identify the other two suspects mentioned in the last letter. The complaint says the FBI fears the other two suspects may carry out some sort of physical violence.

The main theme of the letters was that Atkinson was supposedly attempting to replace all medical center security guards with a private security firm, according to the complaint.

O’Neil was being held pending a bail hearing this week, according to US Attorney Michael Sullivan’s office. O’Neil’s attorney of record, Charles McGinty of the federal public defender’s office, did not return a Gazette phone call for this article.

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