Thursday, June 30, 2011

28 Suspected Drug Dealers Arrested In Operation Street Sweeper II

BROCKTON—More than 100 Brockton, state and federal law enforcement personnel scoured the city’s streets and arrested 28 suspected drug dealers and distributors in Brockton, Abington, Bridgewater and Raynham in what is being called “Operation Street Sweeper II.
“(Wednesday’s) arrests mark the culmination of months of efforts to make this operation successful,” said Brockton Police Chief William Conlon in a prepared statement.
“Countless hours of surveillance and other undercover work went towards the goal of removing these defendants from Brockton’s streets,” he said.
Operation Street Sweeper II began at about 6 a.m. Wednesday, June 29 as 120 officers with the Brockton Police department, State Police Gang Unit and the FBI rounded up 28suspected drug dealers after obtaining warrants for their arrests from Brockton District Court.
Canine units and the State Police Air Wing were used in the operation.
Authorities said the undercover narcotics investigation began in April and targeted 36 individuals who allegedly sold narcotics to undercover officers.
Of the 36 people targeted, 28 were arrested and the others are still being sought by police. Two of those named in the warrants had previously been arrested.
The names of those still at large have not been released.
The 28 people caught in the sting were arraigned throughout the day Wednesday in Brockton District Court.
All face unlawful distribution of a Class A--heroin, Class D or Class B substance—crack cocaine.
In January the first Operation Street Sweeper netted 22 of 25 suspected high-level drug dealers.
Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz said the drug sweep is a step in cleaning up Brockton’s streets and allowing the community to live peaceful and productive lives free of street crime.
“(Wednesday’s) arrests send a strong message that we will not surrender our streets to drug dealers and the violence they bring,” Cruz said in a prepared statement.
“I cannot emphasize enough that the officers who investigated and carried out this operation put their own lives at risk in order to make this city a safer place for families in Brockton,” he said.
The following are those who were arrested in Wednesday’s sting:
Emmanuel Correia, 22, of 29 Faxon St., Brockton was charged with unlawful distribution of a Class D substance.
Perry Wright, 25, of 4 Sycamore Ave., Brockton was charged with unlawful distribution of a counterfeit substance.
Jason Butler, 25, of 686 Main St., Apt. 2, Brockton was charged with three counts of unlawful distribution of a Class B substance.
Michael Belle, 29, of 55 Tribou St., Brockton was charged with unlawful distribution of a Class B substance and conspiracy to violate drug laws in a school zone.
DeCourcey Belle, 22, of 25 Nelson St., Brockton was charged with subsequent offense with unlawful distribution of a Class B substance and conspiracy to violate drug laws in a school zone.
Charla Zarrella, 27, of 54 Aldridge Road, Bridgewater was charged with two counts of unlawful distribution of a Class B substance and conspiracy to violate drug laws in a school zone.
David Silva, 37, homeless, was charged with unlawful distribution of a Class B substance and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
Katelynn O’Malley, 21, of 394 Mohawk Road, Raynham was charged with unlawful distribution of a Class B substance and conspiracy to violate drug laws in a school zone.
Denita Goforth, 42, of 47 Highland St., Apt. 15, Brockton was charged with subsequent offense unlawful distribution of a Class B substance and conspiracy to violate drug laws in a school zone.
Larry Brown, 39, of 70 Oak St. Ext., Brockton was charged with subsequent offense unlawful distribution of a Class B substance and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
Christina Duff, 28, of 162 W. Chestnut St., Brockton was charged with unlawful distribution of a Class B substance and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
Stacey Connelly, 40, of 206 Thatcher St., Brockton was charged with unlawful distribution of a Class B substance and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
Stephanie Tighe, 39, of 25 North Ave., Apt. 203 Brockton was charged with unlawful distribution of a Class B substance and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
Luis Rosado, 29, of 117 Colonel Bell Dr., Brockton was charged with unlawful distribution of a Class B substance and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
Scott Galvin, 39, of 29 Louis St., Brockton was charged with unlawful distribution of a Class B substance .
Vincent Gamble, 45, of Main Spring House, Brockton was charged with unlawful distribution of a Class B substance and conspiracy to violate drug laws in a school zone.
Derek Bradley, 24, of 449 N. Main St., Apt. 7 Brockton was charged with subsequent offense unlawful distribution of a Class B substance and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
Kimberly N. Williams, 42, of 1380 S. Main St., Apt. 708B, Brockton was charged with subsequent offense unlawful distribution of a Class B substance and conspiracy to violate drug laws in a school zone.
Christopher E. Dunn, 45, of 459 Groveland St., Abington was charged with unlawful distribution of a Class B substance.
Rayshawn L. Harvey, 24, of 151 Laureston St., Brockton was charged with unlawful distribution of a Class B substance and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
Chitori Christmas, 625 North St., Bridgewater was charged with unlawful distribution of a Class B substance and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
Isis D. Cartagena, 32, of 122 N. Leyden St., Brockton was charged with unlawful distribution of a Class B substance and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
Debbie A. Allen, 38, of 117 Bellevue St., 3rd floor, Brockton was charged with unlawful distribution of a Class B substance.
Neal Sampson, 45, of 10 Walnut Ave., Brockton was charged with unlawful distribution of a Class B substance and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
Sean W. Hartsgrove, 39, of 54 N. Main St., Brockton was charged with unlawful distribution of a Class B substance and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
Julio F. Goncalves, 24, who has been held at Plymouth County House of Corrections since June 20, was charged with unlawful distribution of a Class A substance—heroin, and conspiracy to violate drug laws in a school zone.
Richard Lammey-Raymond, 19, of 25 Copeland St., Brockton was charged with unlawful distribution of a Class B substance and conspiracy to violate drug laws in a school zone.
Taleek McFadden, 22, of 30 South St., Apt. 30, Brockton was charged with unlawful distribution of a Class B substance, conspiracy to violate drug laws in a school zone, and two warrants.

Stewart, Power Plant Opponents At Odds Over Negotiations

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—Opponents of a proposed power plant in Brockton are crying betrayal following a meeting Tuesday night when Brockton City Councilor-at-large Jass Stewart voiced the idea of talking with power plant representatives about concessions and money Brockton Power might give to the city if the courts give the green light to the controversial project.
“I felt betrayed. I couldn’t believe it. I lost my breath,” said Eddie Byers, one of the leaders of the anti-power plant group that has a following of more than 500 residents from Brockton and the Bridgewaters.
Since the meeting Tuesday night held in City Council chambers, Byers and others in the group against the power plant have been angry and trying to figure out why Stewart would propose negotiating with power plant officials, especially since June 9when the state Energy and Facilities Siting Board by a 4-3 vote rejected Brockton Power’s plan to use city water to cool the proposed power plant’s turbine—a big victory for anti-power plant forces.
“He ripped my heart out,” Byers said.
Stewart said he knew bringing up the idea of negotiating with Brockton Power would be “dangerous,” but believes it is a topic that needs to be discussed as a “worst case scenario” strategy.
“I was looking at it as an opportunity to go into the conversation with more leverage—we are in a position of power because of the June EFSB decision—rather than coming from a position where we don’t have any leverage,” Stewart said.
Stewart said he brought up the idea of getting concessions from power plant officials because power plant opponents have to be ready for the possibility that the plant may receive approval from the courts, even though the EFSB decision about the water maybe a hurdle the power plant cannot overcome.
He said when he raised the issue at the Tuesday night meeting it did not go over well with the 8-12 people who attended, including city councilors Michelle DuBois and Paul Studenski.
“They wanted to burn me alive,” Stewart said of the reaction in the room.
Stewart said weeks before the meeting he polled power plant opponents like environmental lawyer Eugene Benson, who is representing opponents in hearings against the plant, and certain, unnamed city officials about the chances opponents have of winning the fight against the plant.
Stewart would not divulge what the percentage was but said it was low and that prompted his thinking that a worst case scenario strategy had to be formed.
Stewart said that ad-hoc poll was before the EFSB ruled against Brockton Power using the city’s water to cool the plant’s turbines.
Stewart said he has met with former Mayor John “Jack” Yunits several months ago and during that meeting Yunits tried to persuade Stewart to negotiate with power plant representatives a mitigation package that would include money and other needs the city might have that Brockton Power might help with.
Stewart said he was willing to listen to Yunits’ arguments, but he is still not in favor of the plant and he is only trying to cover the bases if the plant receives approvals.
“I am still 150 percent against the power plant,” Stewart said. “I am not at all changing my position and I don’t want people who value my opinion to think I’ve changed my mind. I haven’t and I don’t want people who might value my opinion to think I have and maybe change their mind,” Stewart said.
Stewart said he thought the issue would remain private among those who attended Tuesday night’s meeting and believes Byers might be using the meeting and its reaction as a political argument because Katherine “Kate” Archard, a vocal opponent of the power plant and close associate of Byers, is running for one of four city councilor-at-large seats.
Stewart, who is up for reelection to his councilor-at-large seat, has not taken out nomination papers for reelection and is considering a possible run for mayor.
Stewart said he would make a decision whether he will run for mayor or reelection to the City Council sometime before the July 29 deadline to pull nomination papers.
Bill Carpenter, a school committee member, said he is waiting for Stewart to make a decision about running for mayor or city council before he decides what seat he will run for.
“I’ll be in line right behind you on July 29,” Carpenter said to Stewart during a conversation about the election last night. “I’m waiting to see what you do,” Carpenter told Stewart.
It was Carpenter’s radio show on WXBR 1460AM Wednesday morning when Byers made public his and other power plant opponent’s belief Stewart might be changing his mind toward the power plant.
Byers said the election and Archard’s run for city council has nothing to do with his feeling that Stewart maybe betraying the power plant opposition.
“This is a war…there’s going to be winners and losers…there’s no negotiation,” Byers said.
Byers said he did not reach out to the media to make the issue public. He said he was contacted to speak on Carpenter’s show.
“I didn’t initiate the call,” Byers said.
Byers said Stewart’s presence at the Tuesday meeting was a surprise, as was the topic of conversation.
Byers said he thought the meeting was going to be similar to those held periodically by opponents when legal issues and strategies have been discussed.
Byers said the other meetings have been held at the Davis Elementary School and Stewart has not been present during those meetings.
Byers said he did not know who called the meeting, but believed it was Stewart who initiated the meeting by contacting the opponents’ lawyer Benson who sent emails about 7 to 10 days ago about Tuesday night’s meeting at City Hall.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Whitey Due In Court Tuesday For Lawyer Hearing

BROCKTON--James "Whitey" Bulger's girlfriend has hired reknowned Brockton attorney to aid in her defense and has waived her right to a court appointed attorney, federal officials said Monday afternoon.
According to a statement from the FBI, Catherine Grieg--who has been on the run with Bulger since 1995--has hired Kevin Reddington as her defense counsel and has waived her right to a court appointed lawyer.
Grieg, 60, was captured along with Bulger in Santa Monica, California last Wednesday, June 22 after 16 years on the lam with the notorious South Boston mob boss.
When Bulger and Grieg appeared in U.S. District Court in Boston last Friday both asked for a court-appointed lawyer and waived bail at that time, although both have the right to request bail at a future hearing.
Grieg, being held at Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island, was initially scheduled in court tomorrow, Tuesday, June 28 for a bail hearing.
Reddington, whose office is in Brockton, has defended office-shooter Michael McDermott and is currently defending Brockton Firefighter Jaime Barbosa on a weapons charge stemming from a melee at Joe Angelo's.
Grieg's bail hearing, as of this afternoon, has been moved to Thursday, June 30 at 2:30 p.m.
Bulger, 81, who quipped in court Friday he could pay for his own defense if the feds would give him back the $800,000 seized from the pair's apartment in Santa Monica, is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday, June 28 or a hearing to decide if Bulger, Bulger's family, or taxpayer's will foot the bill for Whitey's defense.
The hearing has been moved to 2 p.m. It was originally scheduled for 10 a.m.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Victim's Family Lash Out At Bulger, FBI

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—One of the son’s of Michael Donahue, a murdered innocent bystander of accused mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger, warned all who follow the case not to be fooled by the captured fugitive’s meek and respectful demeanor in U.S. Federal District Court in Boston.
“He’s a scumbag...he’s a mass murderer and a destroyer of families,” said Tommy Donahue, the youngest of Michael Donahue’s children who was 8-years-old in 1982 when his father was gunned down in a hail of machine gun bullets on Northern Avenue all because Donahue happened to be in a car with Bulger associate Edward “Brian” Halloran who Bulger wanted dead.
The site of the shooting--Northern Avenue--was just a few hundred yards from the federal courthouse where Bulger began the first of what will be many court hearings after being captured in Santa Monica, California after 16 years on the run.
Tommy Donahue and his mother Patricia, who had kept quiet about Michael Donahue’s death, released 16 years of anger and frustration following a brief court appearance by Bulger, 81, and longtime girlfriend Catherine Grieg, Friday, June 24 at the John Joseph Moakley Court House in Boston.
Bulger faces life in prison and possibly the death penalty in two of 19 murders. Grieg could face up to five years behind bars for harboring a fugitive.
Tommy Donahue, with his arm lightly on his mother’s back, respectfully disagreed with his mother’s opinion that Bulger should be imprisoned and not get the death penalty in Oklahoma and Florida where Bulger is wanted for murder.
“I hope he gets the chair,” Donahue said. “Whether you’re 21 or 81 the electric chair is the same. I know, I’m an electrician,” he said.
Tommy Donahue said he didn’t want Bulger to have any sort of life in prison even if he is 81-years-old and might not have long to live.
His mother Patricia believes the opposite and called the electric chair “the easy way out.”
“I want him to rot in prison and be miserable just like we’ve been for the last 16 years,” she said.
Emotions ran high outside the courthouse, but inside silence pervaded Courtroom 10 when Bulger first appeared in court minutes before 4 p.m.. with his hands cuffed behind his back and surrounded by federal and court police.
Sitting in the crowd just behind Whitey Bulger was his brother Billy—the longest-sitting State Senate President and Grieg’s twin sister Margaret McCusker.
Part of the team prosecuting the case are U.S. Assistant Attorney’s Fred Wyshak Jr. and Brian Kelly—who are credited with spear-heading the dismantling of Whitey’s Winter Hill Gang and sent Bulger henchmen Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, Joseph Matarano and Kevin Weeks to prison.
More than 200 members of the press, family of victims, the general public and courthouse lawyers, staff and college interns waited in line—some for several hours--to gain a seat in Courtroom 10.
Court officials allowed a percentage of each of the spectators and those who could not get into Courtroom 10 watched the proceedings on television screens in two other courtrooms.
Because of judicial process, Bulger was brought in and out of the courtroom for two separate hearings. The first was before Judge Mark Wolf and the second in front of Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler.
Judge Wolf, who presided over the recent trial of convicted House Speaker Sal DiMasi, addressed Bulger and asked him if he understood the charges against him.
Bulger, with fingers of both hands pressed flat on the table in front of him, answered quietly, “Yes.”
During the hearing in front of Wolf, Bulger—wearing a white shirt, blue jeans and sneakers-- appeared meek and respectful—like a dawdling old man who answered questions softly or nodded.
During the second hearing in front of Bowler when the question of paying for his defense was again discussed, Bulger seemed to regain the confident form that made him the king of Boston’s underworld and manipulator of Boston’s FBI Bureau.
U.S. Assistant Attorney Brian Kelly rejected Bulger’s assertion through temporary-court appointed attorney Peter Krupp that Bulger should have a permanent attorney assigned to him and paid for by taxpayers because when he was arrested at his Santa Monica apartment authorities found $800,000 in cash and almost 30 valuable guns and weapons.
“We certainly don’t think this was his last stash,” Kelly said.
Kelly said officials are still seeking more Bulger assets and affirmed the government would seize everything it finds.
Kelly also pointed to co-defendant Catherine Grieg’s submission of pre-trial court financial documents for her defense indicate Whitey’s brother Billy is willing to help pay for bail and possibly use "family assets" for trial expenses.
When Bowler asked Bulger if he could pay for his defense or needed a court-appointed lawyer, Bulger quipped, “I could if you give me my money back,”which gained chuckles fand groans from many in the courtroom.
Bowler said: “You’ll have to talk to Mr. Kelly about that.”
During both hearings Kelly requested Bulger—a fugitive from justice for 16 years and on the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted list—not be allowed bail.
“He is a danger to the community and quite obviously a risk of flight,” Kelly said.
Kelly also added Bulger is a risk to obstruct justice and could threaten potential witnesses if allowed to be released.
When the question of Whitey’s possible release was first discussed in front of Judge Wolf, the crowd in one of the spillover courtrooms—mostly silent through the proceedings—let out quick laughs and scoffs that the question of Whitey's release even has to be asked.
Temporary defense attorney Peter Krupp said Bulger would not argue the point at that moment, but requested and was granted Bulger’s right to revisit the bail question at a future hearing.
Until the matter of bail is decided Bulger will be held at Plymouth County House of Corrections where he was taken by a motorcade of Boston and State Police and U.S. Marshal's.
After Bulger’s two hearings, which lasted about 15 minutes each, Grieg was brought into the courtroom at about 4:45 p.m. to face charges of harboring a fugitive.
Grieg turned to look over her left shoulder to make eye contact with her sister McCusker as court officers took off the handcuffs that pinned Grieg’s arms behind her back.
After being released and seated at a table, Grieg, wearing a white top, white pants and white sneakers, again looked over her shoulder to look at her sister.
Similar to Bulger’s hearings, Grieg was held without bail until a future hearing and the question of her court-appointed or paid attorney and possible bail, is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, June 28 at 2:30 p.m.
Grieg’s hearing took about 10 minutes.
Back outside crowds of reporters and cameras awaited comments from Bulger’s temporary lawyer Krupp and family members of victims.
Krupp came out first and quickly addressed the throng of press and onlookers.
“We look forward to facing these charges in court,” Krupp said.
After Krupp, the Donahues let out their hearts.
Patricia told reporters she thought Bulger seemed meek and frail. She said the court hearing was an anticlimax after 16 years.
“He looked like an old man,” she said.
Tommy Donahue then warned Bulger’s appearance as a meek, old man should not be believed.
Both mother and son lambasted the FBI for their handling of the investigation and said they believe nothing about reports that the FBI is crediting a public-information campaign begun Monday, June 20 in 14 media markets, including San Francisco and San Diego, but not Los Angeles—as the break that finally netted the tip that led to Bulger’s arrest Wednesday.
“If the FBI did its job they could have had him 16 years ago,” Tommy Donahue said.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

$20,500 Gift Helps Makeover Norfolk Cancer Care "Kemo Living Room"

Submitted by Jennifer Kovalich, communications manager, Good Samaritan Medical Center
BROCKTON--Encircling the ring finger on Bill Nichols’right hand is a gold band set with two sparkling diamonds.
The ring was a gift from his wife, Ellen, and made from jewelry that had belonged to his late sister, Carol Nichols of Braintree.
On June 7, Bill Nichols, his mother, Mary, other family members and friends gathered at the Norfolk Cancer Care Center at 1073 Pleasant St. bringing with them another precious gift: a check for more than $20,500 for Dr. Satinder Dhillon, an oncologist and hematologist who had treated Carol Nichols after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004.
“They were like kids together, laughing all the time,” Bill Nichols, of Holbrook, said of his sister and her physician. “Dr. Dhillon kept my sister alive for a very long time.”
Carol Nichols’ bequest to her physician, who is affiliated with Good Samaritan Medical Center, will benefit other cancer patients.
“Her generous donation to the clinic came as a very big surprise,” Dr. Dhillon said at the check presentation.
Dr. Dhillon plans to renovate the clinic’s chemotherapy infusion room to add a living room and create a home-like environment where patients can be more comfortable during their hours-long treatment.
She plans to call it a “Kemo Living Room” and envisions a place where patients can sit and relax, play cards, socialize with other patients “and have a few laughs.”
“That would make it a fitting way to seal Carol’s memory in our hearts and in our clinic forever,” Dr. Dhillion said.
When she met Carol Nichols, Dr. Dhillon says she was struck by the calm demeanor in which Nichols received her diagnosis and four years later, the grace with which she faced the possibility of an unfavorable outcome with her disease after a relapse. But, she said, Nichols never lost her zest for life, her sense of humor or her will to fight to the end.
“She made me realize that we are born to celebrate life both in sickness and in health, and that every day we live is not just another day; it’s another day we get to celebrate life,” Dr. Dhillon said.
In that spirit, Dr. Dhillon’s practice looks for the opportunities to celebrate life’s moments with patients.
Earlier this year they held a Mardi Gras party and had an Easter bonnet parade. This month the center also threw a surprise 50th wedding anniversary party for another patient, transporting her vicariously to Paris through decorations, song and food, including cookies decorated like the Eiffel Tower.
During her lifetime, Carol Nichols worked as an administrative assistant and traveled the world for her job, oftentimes meeting foreign presidents and premiers.
“She was the right-hand man to every person she worked for,” her mother, Mary Nichols, of Braintree, said. “She was a smart girl. She could do anything,” she said.
Other family and friends at the check presentation, including her godmother, Mary DiRado, of Rockland, described a woman who sparkled and was “a sweetheart.”
Karen Martinson, of Rockland, met Carol Nichols at the Norfolk Center for Cancer Care when she, too, was undergoing cancer treatment.
The women bonded quickly and together with another patient, became known as the “Chemolicious Trio” drawing support and encouragement from each other.
“I miss her terribly,” Martinson said.
Other family who joined in the check presentation were Carol’s aunt, Regina Giordani, of Norwell, and John and Mufalda Ventresca, of Quincy.
Carol Nichols was a 1972 graduate of Braintree High School and an alumna of Aquinas College. She died on her 55th birthday, Dec. 20, 2009.
During her illness, Carol and her brother began talking about her plans to leave a lasting gift to Dr. Dhillon and her practice.
“Everybody here is just ecstatic that Carol thought so much of Dr. Dhillon and what she’s trying to do,” Bill Nichols said. “She’s trying to show people that it’s not about coming in here for chemo treatments. It’s about life.”
PHOTO ABOVE: Pictured from left to right are: Regina Giordani, Mary Nichols, Dr. Satinder Dhillon, Bill Nichols, Muffy Ventresca, John Ventresca, Mary DiRado and Karen Martinson.
Photo courtesy Phil Saviano

Whitey Bulger Captured In California

LOS ANGELES--After 16 years on the run, accused murderer and Winter Hill Gang James "Whitey" Bulger has been arrested in Santa Monica, California by Santa Monica Police and agents with the FBI.
According to a statement from the FBI, Bulger and his longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig were arrested after a tip Wednesday night June 22 led police to a 28-unit apartment complex where the pair lived on the top floor.
The FBI said a "ruse" was used to bring Bulger out of the apartment and when he was identifed was arrested without incident.
Grieg was then arrested and an FBI evidence team scoured the apartment and found weapons and a large stash of money.
A press conference and arraignment was expected in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California, Los Angeles around 10:30 this morning.
Bulger, the brother of former longtime Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives William Bulger, (Correction: Senate President) has been on the run since 1995 when he escaped custoday a day before he was to be arrested on murder charges.
Now imprisoned FBI agent John Connolly used Bulger as an informant and protected Bulger from prosecution for numerous crimes including murder.
It was Connolly who tipped Bulger that federal officials were moving in to arrest him.
Bulger has been on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List since 1999.
The FBI last week (Correction: earlier this week) began a publicity campaign that concentrated on Greig and FBI officials said it was the campaign that produced a tip which led agents to Santa Monica, California, where they located both Bulger and Greig at the apartment which is about three blocks from the ocean.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Water Dept. Audit Shows Changes Needed

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—After a presentation of findngs and recommendations by independent auditing firms, several City Councilors and Mayor Linda Balzotti believe the first next step is to resolve some of the unusually high water bills that prompted scrutiny of water department systems last summer.
“Now, that we have the auditor’s recommendations the first thing we need to do is deal with residents who have high bills,” said Mayor Linda Balzotti following Monday night’s City Council Finance Committee meeting.
Balzotti said a so-called “look-back” policy could be a first step in resolving residents’ issues and is expected to form a committee to draft a policy—possibly by City Council’s finance committee meeting expected July 18.
“We’re going to have to look back at those bills and figure out if equipment failed or if they were tampered with or if there is something else and develop a policy,” Balzotti said.
During Monday’s meeting, representatives of The Abrahams Group and Woodard & Curran, outlined a more than 6-month process during which the firms reviewed water and sewer department policies, procedures, billing and adjustments processes.
Monday’s meeting is expected to be the first in many as city officials and residents wade through more than 800 pages of documents associated with the review.
The next meeting is expected in July when the City Council Finance Committee meets.
While some things were not entirely clear after Monday night’s nearly 3-hour presentation, what was clear is that changes must be made within the water and sewer departments—including employee training on billing software programs, policies to outline proper adjustments and abatements and how many years back the city will look to charge residents for water use when they have received estimated water bills.
The so-called “look-back” policy which would limit how many years back the city will go to recover water costs is likely to be a linchpin in whether or not residents like Robert Ford will have to pay an already adjusted $12,000 water bill and Ayanna Cato who has been fighting a $17,000 bill that has been lowered from $100,000.
“We have some work ahead of us,” said Councilor-at-large Thomas Brophy, who noted the city wants to treat everyone fairly.
The review outlines several circumstances that will be difficult for city officials to reconcile—most notably whether residents will be charged for estimated water use over a specific period of time.
City officials have said they can charge back as far as the current homeowner has lived on the property—which in some cases as many as 10, 12 or 18 years.
Residents like Ford and Cato have refused to pay their bills because they believe they have not used the water calculated.
The pair were two of six individual residents who had their bills reviewed during the audit and in Ford’s case the audit concluded his water usage was miscalculated.
Balzotti said some recommendations are going to be difficult to implement right away because they will require negotiations with union members over job descriptions and responsibilities.
During the presentation, Mark Abrahams, head of the Abrahams Group, said city officials will have to decide if one of several situations are involved in the unusually high bills, including malfunctioning city equipment and denial of access to homes and meters to take accurate readings by homeowners.
Abrahams said it seemed only fair not to charge homeowners if the city’s equipment has failed.
Ward 6 Councilor Michelle DuBois after the meeting said she agreed with fellow councilors that residents’ bills need to be adjusted and came out strong in favor of resolving six individual home owners whose bills were reviewed during the audit, including Bob Ford’s—who auditors said his meter readings were miscalculated.
DuBois said the water department is fraught with “mismanagement,” “negligence,” and “incompetence” and leading the way are Public Works Director Michael Thoreson and Water Systems Manager Brian Creedon.
“Mr. Ford is a more than 60-year-old retired man who shouldn’t have to deal with an (unusually large) water bill, especially when he didn’t use the water,” DuBois said.
“Thoreson makes over $100,000—for his more than $100,000 salary (Thoreson) should have been able to resolve Bob Ford’s problem…Bob Ford shouldn’t have to pay because Brian Creedon didn’t do his job,” she said.
Thoreson and Creedon could not immediately be reached for comment.
Thoreson and Creedon are expected to face questions from city councilors during the July 18 meeting. Because of the lengthy meeting questions directed at water department officials were postponed until the next meeting.
Marianne Silva, one of dozens of residents who have been fighting the water department over their bills since last summer, said the audit results in many ways show residents have been right all along and now city officials will have to act.
“I’m happy,” Silva said. “They are going to have to make changes--many changes,” she said.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

WBC Head Sulaiman Commits To Rocky Statue Money

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—There will be no confusion between a statue in Philadelphia portraying fictional movie character Rocky Balboa and a statue in Brockton depicting “The Punch” by real-life legend and undefeated heavyweight boxing World Champion Rocky Marciano—Brockton’s hometown boy.
During a whirlwind 2-day tour of Brockton, World Boxing Council President Jose Sulaiman gave his personal stamp that a more than 3-year-old proposal to construct a 20-foot or taller statue in memory of Rocky Marciano that has been slowed and almost stalled will be completed and paid for by the WBC and, if all goes well, be ready for a Sept. 1, 2012 dedication on what would have been Marciano’s 89th birthday had he not died in a plane crash in 1969.
“Sept. 1 of next year—god willing,” Sulaiman told a crowd at Brockton City Hall Tuesday afternoon after wrapping up a 48-hour visit in Brockton that included parties and receptions, a 10th anniversary celebration of Brockton’s Mary Cruise Kennedy Senior Center, a Tuesday trolley tour of Brockton's historical sites,a visit to the house and neighborhood where the grit and determination that shaped Marciano was formed, and a Monday night gala at George’s Café on Belmont Street where Sulaiman will forever be remembered in Brockton after owner Charlie Tartaglia unveiled a pizza named in Sulaiman’s honor.

“It’s the Jose Sulaiman. It’s a ham and cheese. He said he likes ham and cheese. We have the Kenneth Feinberg—that has everything on it,” said Tartaglia, who is also a member of a committee that invited Sulaiman for the Brockton visit so a relationship that began about 3-years ago via telephone calls and email between Sulaiman in Mexico and Brockton supporters in the U.S. could be solidified by a face-to-face meeting to show the city's pride in Marciano's accomplishments and its desire to have the statue in its midst. (Sulaiman in photo second from top at left with baseball hat and in photo above, at left)
And while it was a happy holiday and love-filled tour, the trip was not just a big party in memory of “Brockton Blockbuster” Rocky Marciano.
It also included a business meeting with Sulaiman and WBC officials over, in large part, who is going to pay for the statue—including its construction, transportation and installation in Brockton and a redesign of the statue's pose--another of numerous hitches and changes during the statue's planning process.
Initially the WBC proposed installing the statue in Boston, but after Brockton officials and residents, many with close connections to the Marciano family, campaigned through emails, telephone calls, and the media to Sulaiman and WBC’s headquarters in Mexico City that the statue’s true home should be Marciano’s true home—Brockton.
Sulaiman, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and the WBC agreed to construct the statue in Brockton and with the location battle won, Rocky’s statue faced other problems.
There was a second location disagreement within the city itself. Some wanted it on a spot near City Hall Plaza. Others wanted it at Brockton High School where thousands of people visit and ties into the high school’s Rocky Marciano Stadium.
Eventually it was decided the statue would be located near Brockton High and with that problem resolved, a small contingent from Chicago had begun what became a possibly harassing and threatening email campaign to WBC officials, Brockton officials and supporters, and the media that demanded the statue be installed in Chicago where Marciano knocked out “Jersey Joe” Walcott to retain his world heavyweight title a year after Marciano won the title for the first-time with “The Punch.”
Local officials said federal officials and law enforcement were called in to help with what has been loosely dubbed "the Chicago problem."
The Chicago problem has since subsided, but then the WBC fell into financial hard times and there was concern the boxing organization would back out of the project.
Oversees negotiations began again, and in Brockton a group of Marciano friends, family, supporters and boxing enthusiasts organized to raise money and enlist volunteer architects to help with plans, engineering and transportation of the statue to Brockton from Mexico where it will be sculpted by reknowned Mexican artist Mario Rendon.
The committee decided they had to meet Sulaiman and WBC officials face-to-face to talk about the statue.
An invitation was sent. Sulaiman accepted and was treated to a festival of Marciano and Brockton.
Even after the 2-day visit, Brockton committee members said it is still unclear how much it will cost for the statue to be shipped and installed in Brockton.
Sulaiman and Brockton officials said there is agreement the WBC would pay for the statue’s cost to sculpt and the rest will be decided.
Officials said it is also unclear if the WBC or Brockton supporters will pay for its installation once it is complete.
The statue itself has been estimated at $300,000, but that was when it was to be made of bronze and stand a few inches taller.
During the 2-day visit it was decided the statue would not be made of bronze because the metal is too heavy and that the height would be about 20 to 22 feet tall. Officials estimated the new design would be at least $250,000.
What is clear, is a decision to redesign how Marciano is displayed.
Originally, Marciano’s arms were to be raised above his head in victory—a pose similar to one of Sylvester Stallone portraying boxing film hero Rocky Balbao--partially based on Marciano's career-- that until 2006 stood atop the east entrance steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Brockton officials said the statue’s pose had to be changed because they didn’t want any confusion or similarity to the fictitious Rocky and the real Rocky Marciano—a true life, ain't-gonna-happen-but-it-did story and the pose had to be “The Punch.” (Pictured at right with statue model)
“The Punch,” took place in Philadelphia’s Municipal Stadium Sept. 23, 1952 during the 13th round between Marciano and Jersey Joe Walcott, the then-title holder and heavyweight champion who, by all historical accounts was winning easily on points during a hard-fought bout.
Opening the 13th with left eye closed, bloodied and having been knocked down, Marciano moved in and let loose his famous right, “a thunderous punch” that dropped Walcott to his knees and nearly unconscious.
Marciano was crowned the new heavyweight champion and went on to defeat all-comers for the title and retired 49-0—a record that still has not been beat.
During Monday night’s packed gala at George’s Café, a few of the area’s boxing greats like World Welterweight Champion Tony DeMarco (Pictured above, at left "punching" Richard Hand, center, with promoter Doug Pendarvis) filled the café with stories of Marciano’s boxing glory, tales of good restaurants and dishes, inquiries about family and friends, and sparring days in Brockton, East Boston and Providence.
Rhode Island native and former lightweight and middleweight champion Vinnie Pazienza (Pictured below) said he was happy for Brockton and Marciano’s family and that the statue is a tribute to Rocky—one of a very short list Pazienza said were truly great boxers.
Pazienza included Sugar Ray Robinson and Willy Pep as two of the greatest in the ring.
He added Roberto Duran who Pazienza fought and beat twice by decision when Pazienza said Duran was “in his 80s or 90s.”
“He hit me so hard. I can’t even imagine what he must of been like when he was in his prime. I would have been all done,” Pazienza said of Duran who was over 40-years-old when they fought in the early 1990s.
Pazienza said Marciano holds a special place in boxing history, not only for his famous right-hand, but also his heart.
“He was a great boxer, but he was also a great man. He did everything for his family, his community. He is one of the truly great boxers. He was the cream of the crop,” Pazienza said.
Peter Marciano, Rocky's brother, (pictured in top photo) said Sulaiman's visit was a great time and that Sulaiman is a great guy who has now seen first hand why the statue not only should be in Brockton, but why it has to be built as a final victory in Rocky's 49-0 undefeated career.
"Maybe we can make Rocky's record, instead of 49-0, we'll make it 50-0," Marciano said. "This is another one of those great victories for Rocky...his final victory," he said.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Brockton Man Held Without Bail, Faces Murder Charge

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—A 19-year-old Brockton man was held without bail on a murder charge after witnesses told police he was “shooting wildly” near the Mount Moriah Baptist Church near Main and Court Streets where Jennifer Rodriques Teixeira, 51, was found by police shot in the back with a .45 cabliber handgun.
Frank Webb, 19, of Brockton was charged with murdering Teixeira, a regular parishioner at the Mount Moriah Church and who was going home from the church when shots rang out unexpectedly, and needlessly took her life.
Her daughter Melissa, who tearfully told reporters today, Monday, June 13, is her 28th birthday, that there is no reason for her mother not to share in her birthday.
“My mother did not deserve this,” Teixeira said. “She was an innocent by-stander. This community has come to trash,” she said.
Teixera said her mother has no connection to Webb and said Webb was “pitiful” as he tried to remain behind an enclosure instead of showing his face in front of her family and the media.
“My mother’s my best friend…I just hope justice is served,” Teixeira said. “You take a life—you deserve your life taken,” she said.
Teixeira said her mother was a church-going woman who would help anyone.
"She was a loving lady," she said.
Plymouth County District Timothy Cruz said Teixeira’s shooting has little motive and makes little sense.
“It was the wrong place at the wrong time,” Cruz said.
During Webb’s arraignment in Brockton District Court this morning Assistant District Attorney Peter Maguire said Webb, and another suspect, Antoine Hamilton, of Brockton became involved in an argument at an area store that escalated into punching and then gunfire.
Maguire said witnesses identified Webb as wearing a red-hooded jacket and “shooting wildly with a handgun in the middle of Main Street” at about 1:45 p.m. Saturday, June 11.
Maguire said police were alerted to the shooting at about 1:45 p.m. Saturday by “shot-spotter,” a device installed at various locations across the city designed to hear gun shots.
Police arrived on the scene to find Teixeira on the sidewalk in a pool of blood near the church. She was taken to Brockton Hospital where she was pronounced dead a short time later.
Another witness observed Webb take the red-hooded sweatshirt off and hide a gun behind shrubs near the crime scene.
Maguire said police have four witnesses who have identified Webb and Hamilton as suspects in Saturday’s shooting and that police found two .45 caliber casings in the street near the shooting and another bullet in a wall on the Pleasant Street side of 1 Main Street.
Maguire said the Medical Examiner has concluded Teixeira died from a gunshot to the back.
Maguire asked Judge Richard Savignano to impound, or make confidential, police reports and any information that would identify witnesses in the case because they are in jeopardy. Maguire also asked for no bail because Webb is facing charges in two pending cocaine distribution cases.
James Murphy, Webb’s lawyer said the case is a matter of identification and sometimes witness observations are subject to mistakes and inaccuracies.
Murphy asked the judge to allow $100,000 bail and to keep police reports and witness information public.
Murphy said Webb has not been convicted of a crime and is in a GED program at Massasoit Community College. Murphy said Webb has lived in Brockton for seven years with his father, mother and four siblings.
Savignano rejected Murphy’s request and Webb was ordered held without bail. Police reports and witness information will remain confidential.
Webb is expected back in court for a probable cause hearing July 8.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Bernardi Auto Grand Opening June 16

BROCKTON--Bernardi Auto Group will host a grand opening and ribbon cutting Thursday June 16 at 6 p.m. The event will celebrate the opening of two new showrooms at 300 Manley St.
The new Hyundai auto dealership has been open for about a month and the Honda showroom is just about ready to open.
The public is invited to the June 16 grand opening. There will be appetizers and beverages. A private event will be held June 15.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Brockton Walk-A-Thon Highlights Domestic Violence Issues

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—Brockton resident Lovern Augustine and her mother Jennifer walked side-by-side from D.W. Field to the Raymond School as a statement against the continuation of a cycle that saw both mother and daughter become victims of domestic violence—a cycle both want to end with them.
“It has to stop,” Augustine said, holding the hand of her 9-year-old daughter Lailah. “It has to stop for her,” Augustine said.
Augustine and her 59-year-old mother Jenifer—who bears the scars of brutal machete attacks from her ex-husband-- joined about 30 other women, men and children for a 5K walk-a-thon Sunday, June 5 that began at Raymond Elementary School to increase awareness of domestic violence—called the “deadly and silent killer” by those who deal with the beatings, stabbings, shootings and other violence that plague relationships—both heterosexual and homosexual--across the country.
The walk, led by Councilor-at-large Jass Stewart, raised $1,250 for Penelope’s Place—a confidential shelter for women fleeing violent relationships—and Family and Community Resources of Brockton which oversees Penelope’s Place with Health Imperatives and offers a range of services for women, children and families who have faced a number of traumatic experiences, including domestic violence.
Several of the women who took part in the walk from Raymond Elementary School to D.W. Field Park and back are survivors of domestic violence, including Sylvia Leary,(Pictured above, right with Lovern Augustine) who has launched One-Way Treatment, a non-profit that helps women improve their appearance and self-esteem after suffering domestic violence.
Several of the organizers and contestants from the Mrs. Ethnic World pageant--a crown Augustine has held in New England and the world--joined the walk as did Al DeGirolamo with State Rep. Michael Brady's office.
Lovern Augustine, 32, since winning the title of Mrs Ethnic World 2011 and a Brockton Commission on Women "Woman of the Year," award, is on a mission to raise awareness about domestic violence--a subject she and her mother Jenifer know all too well.
Lovern and her five siblings witnessed for nearly 20 years in her native Trinidad their father brutalizing, and in Loverne’s opinion, torturing her mother over and over again—dragging her mother by the hair, punching her in the face and stomach, kicking and often slicing Jenifer (Pictured at right)with a machete—often in the view of neighbors and police.
“Yes, I said machete. In Trinidad the weapons of choice were hands or a machete. Everyone knew it was wrong. I knew it was wrong. My brothers and sisters knew it was wrong. The police knew it was wrong. We all knew it was wrong, but everyone looked the other way,” Augustine said. “A man was the king of his castle,” she said.
Augustine said there is no way for her to count how many times her father beat her mother—what stands out are incidents when her mother was taken to the hospital.
One of the worst, Augustine said was a beating when Jenifer (Pictured at right) was beaten so badly doctors would not allow the children to see her and she had to stay at the hospital for several days to recover.
The reasons for the attacks ranged from not satisfactorily performing some domestic task like ironing or doing the dishes to his just having a bad day at work.
Lovern said she and her siblings didn’t like it when her father came home. Everyone was always anxious and waiting for the violence to begin.
After decades of abuse, in 1998 Jenifer left Lovern’s father, but still bears the scars on her face, legs and arms where she received slices from a machete.
Jenifer got out, but her daughter Lovern fell into the cycle when she came to the U.S. and met a man she loved, but who slowly grew from a jealous lover to a violent and malevolent man who used Lovern as a punching bag kicking and pummeling her during the last of many violent brawls and face slaps that prompted Loverne to get out.
“I was in that cycle—my family, my friends could tell me he was a bad guy, but until I made the decision to leave it didn’t matter what anyone else said about him. I loved him. He was there for me in many ways. Relationships are the worst,” she said.
One thing is clear to Lovern—she doesn’t want her daughter Lailah to go through what she did.
“It has to stop. It has to stop with me—for her,” Lovern said.
While Trinidad has taken steps to curb its domestic violence problems, here in the U.S. many believe laisez faire or entitlement attitudes toward domestic violence have been imported with large populations of men and women coming to the U.S. from islands such as Trinidad, Cape Verde and Haiti and an influx of immigrants and expatriates from African nations such as Senegal, Congo and Angola.
However, those who work with abused women—data from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence show 73 percent of women are victims of domestic violence—say domestic violence crosses all racial, social and economic bounds and attacks occur every day as evidenced by calls to police departments across the South Shore and Brockton for assaults, attacks and other acts between family members and intimate partners.
“It’s astounding,” said Karen Slaby, director of development at Family and Community Resources, or FCR.
Slaby said educated and successful women have found themselves in the cycle of domestic violence, much like Diane Patrick, wife of Gov. Deval Patrick who told a crowd during FCR’s March 31 that until she met Deval and after her first husband died, she had been in a violent and abusive relationship.
“She’s educated…middle class. She’s a professional woman. She's a successful lawyer and she was abused,” Slaby said.
“It can happen to anyone,” she said.
The number one way to get a woman to leave a violent relationship is not to tell her to leave, advocates say.
“We don’t tell anyone they should leave,” Slaby said. “Women have to make that decision themselves. We give them the tools to make the decision to leave safely,” she said.
One of the main attitude shifts in the battle against domestic violence has been in law enforcement.
Twenty or more years ago a husband beating his wife to within an inch of her life was the business of no one but the husband and wife.
Since, through advocacy and legal action domestic violence is no longer swept under the rug.
“It was a personal matter,” Slaby said. “Now, it’s a crime and people can and do go to jail for it,” she said.
Because many incidents are witnessed by children, Brockton Police have implemented a program, “Child Witness To Violence,” that counsels and helps children in domestic situations because much like Lovern and her mom, children who see domestic violence often fall into the same cycle--even if they know better.
One of the latest movements in the fight against domestic violence is to change attitudes among boys and men toward intimate partners.
Craig Norberg-Bohm, coordinator of Jane Doe Inc.’s men’s initiative, said advocates are hosting programs at schools and with coaches on the practice field to show boys and men that beating up a girlfriend or a wife is not something that is accepted.
“Our social norms say that the best men are big and bad and being big and bad makes them strong, We’re trying to redefine manhood and masculinity,” Norberg-Bohm said.
“We’re trying to show that that perception is a contradiction. We want boys to know that it’s OK to be soft and nurturing—that a father can be kind,” he said.
One activity toward that end is the White Ribbon Campaign that kicked-off its fourth year in March with Gov. Patrick heading a rally on the steps of the State House in Brockton.
Patrick told a large group of men carrying signs reading, “Men for Change,” who pledged not to physically or verbally abuse their partners, that manhood and masculinity needs a new definition.
“Being a man has nothing to do with exerting power over other people. Being a man is about wisdom, about kindness, about understanding, about the courage of showing your own vulnerability, and nothing at all to do with mistreating or hurting or demeaning another person,” Patrick said.
Part of the new parenting, fathering and coaching programs include advocating that men not be “bystanders” to intimate partner violence.
Shunning men who beat their wives or girlfriends or contacting police when witnessing an episode is one way to not be a bystander, Norberg-Bohm said.
Norberg-Bohm said the culture and attitude change among men of all races and colors will not happen overnight, but the more advocates reach more people, slowly, hopefully the menace of domestic violence will decrease and eventually disappear.
“Women can’t change the violence—men can,” Norberg-Bohm said.

Brockton Parents Mag Offers Tips, Advice

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—Beginning last Thursday afternoon, dozens of volunteers for Community Connections of Brockton began emptying the trunks of cars and backs of minivans at all Walgreens locations and placing the first of Community Connection’s Brockton Parents magazine—a free quarterly magazine offering advice and tips for parents with youngsters of all ages.
“It’s really exciting to give parents a voice in the community,” said Juliana Langille, the new executive director of Community Connections of Brockton--a non-profit that brings together parents, residents and others to better the community. (Pictured, front with student volunteers, left to right: Ashley O'Donnell; Kelley Correia, Janine DiLorenzo, and Christophanie Julien)
Langille said volunteers have delivered more than 4,500 of the free magazines to Walgreens pharmacies at all points across the city.
There are 500 more for any businesses who would like to have the new magazine on their counter or magazine racks.
Not only have volunteers delivered the magazines, Langille said all the information, articles, stories and pictures have been written or submitted by parents.
The first edition began to hit Walgreens’ stands Thursday afternoon after volunteers loaded the slick and newly printed magazines at Community Connections new office at 18 Perkins St.
Deliveries continued through the weekend, until nearly all of the first 5,000 were dropped off at each of Brockton’s Walgreens’ stores.
Now that the first issue for summer is on the streets, Langille and her volunteers are looking forward to the next issue set to be completed in the early fall.
Langille is always looking for more writers and contributors. She is also looking for businesses and organizations who want to help by advertising in the magazine or letting Community Connection place the magazine on a counter in their store or business.
Anyone wishing to volunteer or help out in any way can visit Community Connection's website at