June 29, 2011

Man Charged with 23 Year Old Murder of West Roxbury Woman

Michael Coker, 48, was arraigned this afternoon on Massachusetts Murder Charges in connection with the death of Janet A. Phinney, whose body was found in a wooded section of West Roxbury 23 years ago.

Coker was indicted by a Suffolk County Grand Jury and brought before the Suffolk Superior Court this afternoon for his arraignment on the charge of First Degree Murder.

According to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office and Boston Police Department, Janet A. Phinney was reported missing on March 18, 1988, after last being seen by her sister in her family's West Roxbury home. Her body was discovered three days later, partially clothed, by a neighbor.

At the time, the Massachusetts Medical Examiner's Office concluded that Phinney had been strangled to death, but Boston Police did not have enough evidence to charge anyone.

The Boston Police Department reviewing the case used advances in DNA technology to allegedly link biological evidence to Michael Coker. Coker was reportedly Phinney's ex-boyfriend.

It's unclear, however, what 'biological evidence' was relied upon to believe that Michael Coker was responsible for this murder. Even if such biological evidence was found on Phinney's body linking her to Coker, that still does not necessarily demonstrate that he was responsible for her death. It could very well be that she may have had contact with him a short time prior to her disappearance, as some members of her family also did.

Consequently, the DNA link to Coker may be nothing more than circumstance, falling well short of the 'proof beyond a reasonable doubt' for a conviction of First Degree Murder.

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June 28, 2011

Weymouth Man Charged with Stealing Church Donations

Wilbert Nickerson, 76, of Weymouth, was arrested this past Sunday on Massachusetts Theft Crimes Charges for allegedly stealing several hundred dollars in church donations from the St. Jerome Parish in Weymouth.

Nickerson was arraigned Monday morning in Quincy District Court on three counts of Larceny Over $250, a felony.

According to the Weymouth Police Department and the Norfolk County District Attorney's Office, Wilbert Nickerson was one of a handful of volunteers who was responsible for counting donations from the collections after church services. Church officials had reportedly suspected Nickerson of stealing from the collections, and this past Sunday, along with the Weymouth Police Department, allegedly used hidden cameras for surveillance while he counted the money.

The Weymouth Police Department had also reportedly included in the donations some money that were previous-recorded, and the hidden cameras allegedly captured Wilbert Nickerson pocketing money into his pocket six times.

According to Weymouth Police, Nickerson is suspected of pocketing church donations on at least 2 prior occasions.

The Massachusetts Theft Crime of Larceny Over $250 is a felony, which is punishable by incarceration to the House of Corrections for up to 2.5 years, or up to 5 years in state prison. In order to prove someone guilty of the crime of Larceny, the prosecutor would have to prove:

  1. That the person took and carried away property;

  2. That property was owned by someone other than the defendant;

  3. That the defendant did so with the intent to deprive that person of the property permanently.
Following his arraignment in Quincy District Court, Wilbert Nickerson was released on his own personal recognizance.

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June 25, 2011

James "Whitey" Bulger Back in Boston

whitey.jpgAfter 16 years of 'pursuit' and listed as one of America's Most Wanted, James "Whitey" Bulger was back in Boston Federal Court in South Boston yesterday to answer to the several indictments which charge him with Racketeering, Extortion, Money Laundering, Loan Sharking, Witness Tampering, Gun Crimes Charges and Murder.

In the courtroom, along with members of his alleged victims' families, and members of his own family, including former Massachusetts Senate President William M. Bulger, the 81 year old James Bulger reportedly sat calmly and collected throughout the initial proceedings.

To the surprise of many, James Bulger asked to be given a court-appointed lawyer despite the government having seized approximately $800,000 in cash from his apartment at the time of his arrest. In the alternative, he asked the Judge Magistrate to return that money so he could hire his own attorney.

Although this may have frustrated many, the reality is that, in order for the government to seize those funds, they would have to show that those monies were derived from his dealings of a criminal enterprise. This is the government's burder - and not Mr. Bulger's to demonstrate that those funds were obtained lawfully. This issue, of course, will be the subject of future court proceedings...

So how did the FBI get James "Whitey" Bulger back in custody? ...it seems there is more to this story than the FBI is reporting.

According to the FBI in Boston, they received a tip from a woman in Iceland who had reportedly crossed paths with both Whitey Bulger and Catherine Greig in Santa Monica. The woman reportedly saw a CNN report that reported a story about the FBI's television ad about Catherine Greig.

I'm not so sure I really believe that James Bulger and Catherine Greig were apprehended after 16 years; after being on America's Most Wanted List for so long, and after a tip following a CNN special from a woman from Iceland of all places.

Additionally, several questions still remain: if Bulger and Greig were in fact living in that same apartment complex in Santa Monica for the last 16 years, how were they able to leave and re-enter the country during that time, especially after 9/11? With the technology available to the government today and will the thousands of tips, how were they able to live in a large city undetected for so long?

Many critics still question whether the FBI actually knew of their whereabouts and simply did nothing because, perhaps, they did not want him found. After all, imagine how many more people James Bulger can bring down and how much more damage he can do to the already tarnished reputation of the FBI if he begins talking...

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June 24, 2011

Lowell Police Officer Indicted for Rape of Two Prostitutes

s-PROSTITUTION-large.jpgLowell Police Officer Aravanh Lakmany was indicted this past week by the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office for Massachusetts Sex Crimes Charges alleging he raped two prostitutes while on duty.

Aravanh Lakmany was indicted on sex crimes charges of Rape and Soliciting Prostitution.

According to the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office, Aravanh Lakmany allegedly solicited several prostitutes from 2009 going forward while he was working the overnight shift for the Lowell Police Department. He is alleged to have asked the purported prostitutes to get into the back seat of his police cruiser, driven them to a remote area, and then alleged rape them or engage in other sexual acts with them.

The Massachusetts Sex Crime of Rape involves the sexual intercourse with another person by force and against that person's will; or by conduct that compels that person to submit to sexual acts by the threat of bodily force or violence.

The Crime of Rape in Massachusetts is punishable by imprisonment for up to 20 years for a first-time offender, and up to life for a subsequent offense.

In addition to the charges against the police officer, the City of Lowell may also be facing a potential Civil Rights Violations lawsuit by the purported victims against the city. If the allegations prove true, that these women were raped by a Lowell Police Officer while on duty and in his capacity as a police officer, the women may very likely seek monetary damages from the city.

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June 23, 2011

James "Whitey" Bulger Arrested, Agrees to Return to Boston

whitey new.jpgJames "Whitey" Bulger, the purported Boston mobster who has been on the run for 16 years, was arrested last night in Santa Monica, CA, where he had reportedly been living in a rent-controlled apartment complex with his long-time girlfriend, Catherine Greig, 60.

Whitey Bulger, now 81, wanted for 19 murders and who had been on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List, was brought into Federal court this afternoon where he executed the paperwork waiving any contest to extradition and agreed to return to Massachusetts. When asked, Bulger admitted his true name was James J. Bulger; and also stated that he was pretty familiar with the charges against him.

Catherine Greig also agreed to return to Massachusetts without contest to face her own criminal charges.

Most people who know the name Whitey Bulger know the story. Bulger had been working as a confidential informant for former FBI agent John Connolly. Over the course of their relationship, many believe that Bulger was able to influence Connolly, who eventually became so loyal and fascinated with the underworld lifestyle of Whitey Bulger, that it was Connolly who was really working for Bulger - accepting bribes and tipping off Bulger from criminal investigations against him and his other associates.

...notably, John Connolly wasn't the only one who was complicit in providing Bulger information.

Former FBI Agent John Connolly proved his worth to Bulger 16 years ago when he provided him his biggest tip - the 19 count federal indictment charging him with Murder, racketeering and other criminal charges.

whitey old.jpgSince Whitey Bulger had been on the run, the corruption involving former agent John Connolly and the Boston FBI office was uncovered. Connolly was ultimately criminally charged and convicted of racketeering in Boston federal court. Following the completion of his 10 year sentence on that charge, he will then begin serving a 40 year sentence after having been convicted of 2nd Degree Murder in Florida. He was convicted on those murder charges after he leaked information about a potential witness to Bulger, who then arranged for someone to kill him.

The irony in all of this is that, almost immediately upon Whitey Bulger's arrest, the FBI issued a statement praising their diligence and resolve, but also extending their sympathy to all the children and other family members of the 19+ murder victims who suffered their fate at the hands and will of Bulger. ...but who is the bigger monster in this story: Whitey Bulger or the FBI who gave him the license, essentially sanctioned him, to commit these and other heinous crimes?

Boston Criminal Lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis is available 24/7 for a Free Consultation on all Massachusetts Criminal Charges.

June 21, 2011

Wakefield Couple Charged With Armed Robbery

A Wakefield couple was charged with several Massachusetts Crimes of Violence Charges in connection with the robbery of Wakefield gas station.

Eugene Bertini has been charged with three counts of Armed Robbery, Armed Assault with Intent to Rob, Assault & Battery with a Dangerous Weapon, Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, and Larceny Over $250.

According to the Wakefield Police Department, Eugene Bertini allegedly pistol-whipped a teenage cashier in the head at a Wakefield gas station before robbing it of an undisclosed amount of cash on April 25. He was arrested in his hotel room in Saugus following the alleged incident.

Wakefield Police also allege that Eugene Bertini's wife, Leslie Bertini, knew of the planned robbery, and that she was allegedly a Joint Venturer in the robbery.

Following Eugene Bertini's arraignment on these Armed Robbery Charges, he was held without a bail pending a Dangerousness Hearing.

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June 15, 2011

Boston Man Arrested in Stolen Car After Police Chase

Misael Fuentes, 23, was arrested by Boston Police Officers Monday morning following a stolen car chase in Roxbury. He was charged with several Massachusetts Theft Crimes Charges, as well as Crimes of Violence Charges. Fuentes has been charged with Assault & Battery with a Dangerous Weapon, Failure to Stop for Police, Receiving Stolen Motor Vehicle, Leaving the Scene of an Accident After Causing Property Damage, and Unlawful Possession of Burglarious Tools.

According to the Boston Police Department, officers were conducting surveillance of a stolen car that was, at the time, not occupied. Sometime later, police allegedly observed someone get into that stolen car and drive off. Boston Police initially lost sight of the car, but were then able to locate it, but it was again unattended. A short while later, however, officers observed a person get into that car and drive off. At that time, Boston Police reportedly tried to stop the car, but the Fuentes allegedly sped up and led police on a chase in Roxbury.

During the chase, Boston Police allege that Fuentes "bumped" an officers' car, and also allegedly struck two other cars. The person driving the car was reportedly able to evade police, and when the car was again relocated, it was unoccupied.

A Boston Police canine officers responded to the area and the dog purportedly located Misael Fuentes allegedly hiding underneath a porch on Dean Street in Roxbury.

Certainly one of the issues in Misael Fuentes' defense in this case is going to rise and fall on the ability of the Boston Police Officers to adequately identify him as the suspect that got into that car. In cases where the Defense of Identification is a live issue, such as this, prosecutors would have to prove to a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Misael Fuentes was the person driving that car - particularly where Boston Police lost sight of the car on at least two occasions; may not have gotten a good look at him entering the car and/or driving it; and not seeing him park or exit the car.

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June 14, 2011

Brockton Man Charged with Murder of Woman Leaving Church

Frank James Webb, III, of Brockton, was arraigned yesterday morning in Brockton District Court on Massachusetts Murder Charges in connection with the death of Jennifer Teixeira, 51, who was shot in the back as she was leaving church.

Webb has been charged with 1st Degree Murder and Gun Crimes Charges.

According to the Plymouth County District Attorney's Office, Frank J. Webb, III, got into an argument with another man this past Saturday inside a Boost Mobile store in Brockton. At some point, the argument became physical, at which time a man wearing a red hooded sweatshirt went outside the store and and from the street, started firing from a handgun. One of those shots, however, struck Jennifer Texeira, who had just left the Mount Moriah Baptist Church.

According to Plymouth County prosecutor, four witnesses have allegedly identified Frank J. Webb, III, as the shooter wearing the red hooded sweatshirt. They also allege that he, along with another man wearing a grey sweatshirt, ran down the street after the shooting. Several witnesses, however, reportedly followed the men and allegedly observed Webb remove a handgun from his waist area and attempt to hide it in nearby bushes.

Following his arraignment on 1st Degree Murder Charges in Brockton District Court, Frank J. Webb, III, was held without bail. Additionally, his bail on a separate criminal case was revoked where he had previously twice been arrested for the Drug Crime of Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance.

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June 1, 2011

Alleged Serial Rapist Arraigned in Boston Court for 7 Chelsea Rapes

Jose S. Castillo, 35, was arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston yesterday in connection several Massachusetts Sex Crimes that took place in Chelsea between September and October 2010. Castillo was formally indicted on various sex crimes including seven counts of Aggravated Rape, four charges of Indecent Assault & Battery.

According to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, the alleged victims were all prostitutes who were picked up by a man, taken to a remote area, and threatened with a knife before they were attacked or even raped. One of the woman, however, reportedly took the license number of the man's car, which then led them to Jose Castillo.

Aggravated Rape:
The Massachusetts Sex Crime of Aggravated Rape is defined as the act of Rape with the additional element that the crime either resulted in serious bodily injury or was committed during the commission or attempted commission of another felony.

As with most Massachusetts Sex Crimes, a conviction for the crime of Aggravated Rape will subject the person to Sex Offender Registration and could also subject him/her to community parole supervision for life or even civil commitment as a "sexually dangerous person".

The Suffolk District Attorney's Office will certainly face some difficulty in proving these Sex Crimes against Jose Castillo. Not only will the defense undoubtedly seek to challenge the credibility of the alleged victims/prostitutes, but there may also certainly be Identification Issues. Simply because the vehicle in which the women were lured does not necessarily mean that Jose Castillo was the perpetrator...

Following his arraignment in Suffolk Superior Court on these Massachusetts Sex Crimes, Jose Castillo was held in custody on $100,000 cash bail.

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May 31, 2011

Boston Court Rejects Charges for JetBlue Passenger Who Slapped Flight Attendant

jetblue.jpgMassachusetts State Police arrested a man on Assault & Battery Charges this morning at Boston's Logan Airport for having allegedly slapped a flight attendant on a JetBlue flight from Florida to Boston. The Clerk-Magistrate of the East Boston Division of the Boston Municipal Court, however, declined to issue charges against the man for lack of jurisdiction.

Bryan Garnett, the passenger on the JetBlue flight to Boston, allegedly slapped a flight attendant who ordered that he move his carryon luggage beneath his seat. The incident allegedly occurred before the flight took off and while the plane was still in Florida. Upon the flight's arrival Boston, Massachusetts State Police arrested Bryan Garnett for Assault & Battery.

Following his arrest, Massachusetts State Police sought an application for a criminal complaint to be issued against Bryan Garnet for Assault & Battery, but the Clerk-Magistrate declined the application for "jurisdictional reasons" - i.e., that the alleged incident did not occur in Massachusetts.

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May 28, 2011

Massachusetts Woman Charged with Motor Vehicle Homicide in Death of Elderly Dennis Woman

Inez Digiovanni, 29, of Harwich, was arrested yesterday on several Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Charges after allegedly running a stop sign and striking and Dorothy Kuczinski, 91, of Dennis. Inez Digiovanni is reported to be charged with Motor Vehicle Homicide, Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle, and Driving to Endanger.

According to the Yarmouth Police Department, Inez Digiovanni was allegedly driving her husbands truck at 11:30 a.m. Friday morning and did not come to stop prior to going through an intersection. The truck then allegedly struck Kuczinski's car. Dorothy Kuczinski was eventually flown to Boston Medical Center, where she later died from her injuries.

According to police, Inez Digiovanni reportedly did not have a valid Massachusetts Driver's License, and for that reason, her husband, Charles Digiovanni, will also be charged with Permitting an Unlicensed Person to Operate his vehicle.

The Massachusetts Crime of Motor Vehicle Homicide punishes those that operate a vehicle in a negligent or reckless manner so that the lives or safety of the public might be endangered, and which causes the death of another person. The penalty upon conviction for Vehicular Homicide is imprisonment for 2.5 to 15 years in state prison; or 1 to 2.5 years in the House of Corrections.

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May 26, 2011

Haverhill Teen Charged with Motor Vehicle Homicide for Texting While Driving

Aaron Deveau, 17, of Haverhill, was arraigned on several Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Charges yesterday in connection with the February 20th accident that killed another driver. Deveau was arraigned in Haverhill District Court on several driving charges including Motor Vehicle Homicide, Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle and Texting While Driving.

According to the Haverhill Police Department and the Essex County District Attorney's Office, Aaron Deveau was allegedly texting when his car cross the double-yellow line and struck another car. Both persons in that car, Donald Bowley, Jr., and Luz Selena Roman, were both flown to Massachusetts General Hospital to be treated for their injuries. Donald Bowley, Jr., later succumbed to his injuries on March 10.

Following his arraigned in Haverhill District Court, Aaron Deveau was released on his own personal recognizance, but he has been ordered not to drive while the car remains open.

The Massachusetts Driving Crime of Operation of a Mobile Telephone or Handheld Device While Driving went into effect on September 30, 2010, and this is believed to be the first prosecution of vehicular homicide under this new law.

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May 24, 2011

Teenager Charged for East Boston Murder

Marco Tulio Flores, 17, was arraigned on Massachusetts Murder Charges this morning in East Boston District Court in connection with the death of Jaime Galdamez, 28, who was found dead lying in bed in the basement of an East Boston home Monday morning.

According to Boston Police and the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, the body of Jaime Galdamez was discovered Monday morning when the Boston Fire Department responded to 877 Saratoga Street for a fire in the basement. A search of the basement revealed the body of Jaime Galdamez, who was lying in his bed. Because he was bound with duct tape, Boston Police Homicide investigators were called to initiate a murder investigation.

Today, however, prosecutors reported that Marco Tulio Flores went to the Boston Police allegedly admitted that he was the person responsible for the death of Jaime Galdamez. In his statement, Flores allegedly explained that the two had a verbal argument, which then became physical and led to Flores allegedly strangling Galdamez. He had bound Galdamez with duct tape and then set him on fire.

At this time, the Massachusetts Office of the Medical Examiner has not yet pronounced a cause of death.

In the meantime, Marco Tulio Flores has been held without bail on First Degree Murder Charges.

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May 21, 2011

Revere Couple Charged in $4M MBTA Fraud Scheme

Andres Townes and Gloria Escobar, both of Revere, were arrested on Massachusetts Theft Crimes Charges in connection with fraudulent fare-evasion scheme that police allege bilked the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority of $4 million. Both were arraigned in Salem District Court earlier this week on charges including Larceny and Conspiracy to Commit Larceny.

According to police, Andres Townes and Gloria Escobar allegedly conspired in the production and sale of discounted MBTA passes to thousands of people in the greater Boston area and across Massachusetts. The alleged scheme was reportedly initiated from a single ad on Craigslist, and grew to a conglomerate involving a entire network of distributors serving customers making orders of the passes to a post office address.

The scheme was reportedly discovered by an MBTA conductor who noticed that a customer's pass was faded. Further investigation led to authorities to question that rider, who informed the inspector that he had purchased the pass on Craigslist, which then revealed that the MBTA had no record of its serial number.

According to the Essex County District Attorney's Office in Salem, currently on administrative leave, Andres Townes was employed by Cubic Transportation Systems, the california company that processes approximately $135 million in MBTA passes distributed annually, dating back to as early as 2007. Townes was reportedly responsible for overseeing the sale and service of all MBTA passes that were not purchases at MBTA stations, and therefore allegedly had access to MBTA machines that printed and encoded the 'CharlieTickets' and MBTA monthly passes.

Although the MBTA had implemented a system whereby the MBTA would receive notification of all new passes created, Andres Townes had allegedly discovered a way to bypass or disable those transmissions, which allegedly enabled him to create and distribute thousands of the fake passes. Once used, these fake passes were virtually undetectable by the electronic system and unable to be determined whether they came from legitimate accounts.

Andres Townes is believed to have profited in over $800,000 from the fake MBTA passes, while Escobar was allegedly paid approximately $25,000 per month for her involvement.

Following their arraignments in Salem District Court on these Massachusetts Theft Crimes Charges, Andres Townes was held on $250,000 cash bail, while Gloria Escobar was held on $100,000 cash bail.

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May 20, 2011

Boston Man Charged with Kidnapping 15 Year Old Girl in Quincy

Norman Barnes, 28, of Dorchester, was arrested on Massachusetts Kidnapping Charges following allegations that he kidnapped a 15 year old girl at the Adams Inn in North Quincy.

According to the Massachusetts State Police, a trooper working a detail in the area of the Neponset River Bridge was told that there was a fight at the Best Western Adams Inn in North Quincy. The Trooper responded to the area and began chasing a man who allegedly began to run away. The man, Norman Bates, was apprehended and arrested.

At the same time, police officers discovered the 15 year old girl a few blocks down from the hotel. The girl alleged that Barnes had held her against her will at the hotel. She was taken to a Boston hospital for evaluation and treatment.

Norman Barnes is scheduled to be arraigned this morning in Quincy District Court on charges including Kidnapping.

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