Memorial Wall:

Remembering those loved ones lost to the disease of addiction. . . .

View Memorial Wall Here

2007 Press Release Archive

May 9, 2012

District Attorney, Police Chief Disappointed in Parole Decision

December 4, 2007

Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. expressed disappointment today that the Massachusetts Parole Board granted parole December 4, 2007 to Edgar Bowser, convicted of second-degree murder for the 1975 shooting murder of Shrewsbury Police Officer James Lonchiadis.

District Attorney Early appeared personally before the Parole Board to argue against parole. This was Bowser’s sixth attempt at release.

“My thoughts go out to the Lonchiadis family and the Shrewsbury police family, who have had to keep reliving this nightmare,” District Attorney Early said.

Shrewsbury Police Chief James J. Hester also expressed disappointment.

“It is the consensus of the members of the police department that Edgar Bowser should remain incarcerated due to the extreme violent nature of the crime he committed. Our thoughts and support are with the entire Lonchiadis family at this time,” Chief Hester said.

DA Will Not Charge After Harvard Probe

October 4, 2007

WORCESTER — Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. has concluded that no criminal charges will be brought after completing an investigation into the allocation of special education funds by the Harvard School Committee.

Any violation of state law that may have occurred would fall under the purview of the state Ethics Commission, Mr. Early said.

The District Attorney’s Office was first contacted by a Harvard resident alleging criminal wrongdoing with special education funds about six months ago. The Financial Crimes Unit of the District Attorney’s Office and State Police Detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office investigated.

Fitchburg Man Arraigned on Gun Charges

September 19, 2007

FITCHBURG — Alberto Ortiz was arrested at his home this morning and arraigned this afternoon in Fitchburg District Court on several gun charges.

Ortiz, 39, of 7 Green St., Apartment 7B was charged with possession of a handgun without a firearm identification card or license to carry by a person previously convicted of violent crimes or serious drug offenses; possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card license to carry; possession of a dangerous weapon, a stun gun; and unsecured loaded firearm with children under 18.

“We are committed to the identification and prosecution of those who illegally possess firearms,” said Joseph D. early Jr. “Working with our law enforcement partners, we are striving to take the guns off the streets and making our communities safer.”

Acting with a search warrant State Police Detectives assigned to the Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early’s office, Fitchburg Police and members of the North Worcester County Drug Task Force entered Ortiz’s home at about 7:45 a.m. Several family members, including four young children, were home.

The search yielded a loaded 9 mm Beretta handgun with the safety off and one round in the chamber and a fully loaded magazine in the weapon; one Taurus pistol case with gun cleaning gear; a Glock speed loader and two spent casings; a Security Plus Taser gun; a plastic bag containing several live 9mm rounds of ammunition and one Tanita digital scale.

Ortiz was ordered held on $10,000 cash bail and his case was continued to Oct. 18.

Suspect Sought in Winchendon Assault

September 7, 2007

WINCHENDON – A former Winchendon resident wanted for questioning in the home invasion and sexual assault of a woman on North Central Street, is featured on a Most Wanted poster circulated throughout the country, Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said today.

Michael T. Bresnahan, 35, a white man who is 5-foot-9 and weighs about 160 pounds, is believed to have left Massachusetts. He has brown hair and blue eyes several tattoos: a woman’s head on his chest; music note on a wrist; a panther on his upper right arm; a rose/heart on his right forearm and an eagle on his left forearm.

The suspect allegedly assaulted a woman in the early morning hours of August 30, according to Winchendon Police Chief Scott Livingston. The suspect gained access to the home by cutting through a screened window. The victim was assaulted before the suspect fled.

The assault is under investigation by the State Police Detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office and the Winchendon Police. Anyone with information about the Bresnahan’s whereabouts is urged to call 1-800-527-8873 or the Winchendon Police Department at 978-297-1212.

Skeletal Remains of Missing Woman Found in Rutland

September 4, 2007

RUTLAND – Human bones found in the woods off Route 122 have been identified through dental records as belonging to a Worcester woman who had been reported missing in February, Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said yesterday.

Linieda O. Gonzalez also known as Linieda Olivera or Rosa Gomez, 35, whose last known address was 36 Lakeside Ave, Worcester was identified by using dental records. She was reported missing in February.

A hunter checking on the condition of his tree blind for the upcoming deer hunting (bow and arrow) season spotted the human remains in

the woods about 200 yards off Route 122 late Monday afternoon. The thickly wooded area is controlled by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation and is near Rutland State Park.

State Police Detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office, Rutland Police and Worcester Police are working together on the investigation.

Police Investigate Break-in Assault in Winchendon

August, 31, 2007

WINCHENDON – State and local police are searching for a man who broke into a home on North Central Street and sexually assaulted a woman early Thursday morning, according to Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.

The man, described as being in his mid-30s, allegedly cut through a screened window late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning. The victim was assaulted several times before the suspect fled. The victim called police at about 4:00 a.m. Thursday.

The assault is under investigation by the State Police Detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office and the Winchendon Police. Anyone with information about the case is urged to call the Winchendon Police Department at 978-297-1212.

Boy’s Death Ruled Accidental Drowning

August 30, 2007

STURBRIDGE – The death of a 4-year-old boy at a town day camp on Cedar Lake last month has been ruled an accidental drowning by the state Medical Examiner’s Office, according to Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.

The autopsy report of Christian E. Frechette, 4, of 14 Lauren Lane determined that the cause of death was drowning and the manner of death was accidental. State Police Detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office led a thorough investigation that concluded there was no foul play involved.

“No criminal charges will be brought,” said Mr. Early. “This was truly a tragic death, but we are satisfied that no crime was committed. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Frechette family.”

The boy had been found in about four feet of water near the dock on the afternoon of July 13. Rescuers tried to revive him without success and he was transported by         

Sturbridge Fire Department Ambulance to Harrington Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

State Police Detective Unit and the Sturbridge Police Department were assisted in its investigation by the Massachusetts State Police Crime Scene Services Section, Dive Team, Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Sections

Man Arraigned on Weapons Charges in Leominster District Court

July 19, 2007

LEOMINSTER — Two men were arraigned on weapons charges today in Leominster District Court following a joint investigation by Massachusetts State Police Detectives assigned to the Office of the District Attorney, members of the Leominster, Gardner, and Westminster Police departments, and uniformed state police troopers assigned to the Leominster barracks.

James Bergeron, age 46, whose last known address is 104 Granite Street, Fitchburg, MA, and Damon Wuth, age 25, whose last known address is 27 Mill Creek Road, Ashby, MA, each face charges of Carrying a Firearm without a license (four counts); Possession of Ammunition without FID card; Possession of a Sawed-off Shotgun; and Possession of a Firearm with Defaced Serial Numbers. Mr. Bergeron was held on $75,000.00 cash bail and Mr. Wuth was held on $30,000.00 cash bail and their cases were continued to August 20, 2007 for a Pre-Trial hearing.

The investigation began when authorities learned that Mr. Bergeron and Mr. Wuth were in possession of firearms in the Leominster area. After surveillance, Mr. Bergeron was stopped while operating a motor vehicle with Mr. Wuth as a passenger, resulting in the discovery of the firearms.

“We will continue to work aggressively with all of our law enforcement partners to ensure public safety,” District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr. stated. “Good police work like this goes a long way toward keeping illegal firearms and those who carry them off the street.”

Man Arrested in Connection With Series of Alleged 2003 Sexual Assaults, Home Invasions, in Hopinkton and Westboro

July 16, 2007

HOPKINTON – A New Jersey man, formerly from Framingham, was arrested this weekend in New Jersey and will be charged in connection with a series of alleged sexual assaults and home invasions in Westboro and Hopkinton in 2003, Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. and Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone announced today.

Marcelo Mota, 28, was arrested by New Jersey police on Saturday on a warrant obtained Friday evening by Hopkinton Police in connection with an August 14, 2003 armed home invasion and assault in Hopkinton.

Upon questioning by New Jersey Police, it is now alleged that, in addition to the Hopkinton home invasion and assault, Mota is responsible for two home invasions and rapes in Westboro that occurred on August 6 and August 13, 2003. Mota will also be charged in connection with similar incidents that have occurred in New Jersey.

“We allege that this defendant preyed on these unsuspecting women and, in the process, caused many residents of these MetroWest communities to live in fear that they might be next,” District Attorney Leone said. “This arrest is also further proof that, with advances in DNA and fingerprint analysis, people who commit serious violent crimes may try to run, but eventually we will catch up with them and hold them accountable to the greatest extent of the law. I want to commend the Hopkinton and Westboro Police, as well as New Jersey Police, for their determination to stay with this case until they finally caught this dangerous predator.”

“Soon after taking office I had a conversation with Chief (Alan) Gordon in Westboro about these crimes,” District Attorney Early said. “I told him then we would do everything possible to solve them. It appears that some good police work here and in New Jersey, along with some luck, will allow us to bring some peace to the victims and to all the communities affected by these crimes.”
“We are grateful that the cooperative efforts of our officers, the officers from several other agencies, the crime technicians and the District Attorneys of their respective jurisdictions, resulted in an arrest that we hope will bring some closure for the victims of these attacks and the communities where they were committed,” Hopkinton Police Chief Irvin said.

“This was a frustrating case for the Westboro PD,” Westboro Police Chief Gordon said. “But any time you take a cold case and move it into the solved column, it’s good. I speak for the entire department in hoping that the arrest is of some comfort to the victims and the community as a whole.”

The three alleged incidents occurred in August of 2003 in Westborough and Hopkinton.
On August 6, 2003, Westboro Police responded the University of Massachusetts Medical Center University Campus to interview a 24-year-old female rape victim. The investigation led to the Windsor Ridge Apartments where the woman lived. The     

suspect is alleged to have broken into her townhouse, woken her up and raped her at gunpoint.

One week later, on August 13, 2003, Westboro Police responded to The Village at Walker Meadow and, upon investigation, learned that a suspect broke into an apartment there, woke up a 58-year-old female, threatened her with a knife and a gun and raped her.

The next night, on August 14, 2003, Hopkinton Police responded to the Indian Brook Townhomes on Doyle Lane and, upon investigation, it was alleged that the suspect, wielding a knife, broke into an apartment and assaulted a 41-year-old female victim.

Despite extensive investigation by law enforcement, including the use of billboards seeking information to solve the crimes, no arrests were made at the time.

In early July 2007, the Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab was contacted by the Burlington County Sheriff’s office in New Jersey and provided with a ten print fingerprint card of Mota, listing an address in Delran, New Jersey. The fingerprints were compared with the prints found at the crime scene of the 2003 incident in Hopkinton and determined to be a match.

Upon further investigation by Hopkinton Police, it was determined that the description provided by the Hopkinton victim generally matched that of the defendant.
On Friday, July 13, Hopkinton Police applied for and was granted a warrant for the arrest of Mota in connection with the Hopkinton home invasion and assault. On Saturday, July 14, Mota was arrested by New Jersey police.

Upon questioning by New Jersey police, Mota allegedly admitted responsibility for the incidents in Hopkinton and Westboro. He also allegedly admitted to similar, more recent, incidents in New Jersey.

Following his arrest, Mota is scheduled to be arraigned in New Jersey for charges associated with those crimes. It is not yet determined when Mota will be brought to Massachusetts to be charged in connection with the Hopkinton and Westboro incidents.

Mota is expected to be charged with the following crimes when he returns to Massachusetts:

August 6, 2003, Westboro incident: aggravated rape, burglary and assault on occupant.

August 13, 2003, Westboro incident: aggravated rape, burglary and assault on occupant.

August 14, 2003, Hopkinton incident: Home invasion while armed, armed burglary, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (knife), threats.

The investigation continues into possible additional charges in relation to these or other incidents.

These charges are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Two Men Arraigned in Double Murder in Dudley…Worcester Man Turns Himself in to Worcester Police

July 10, 2007

DUDLEY – Two men, charged in connection with the shooting deaths of two people and the wounding of a third person, were arraigned on murder charges today in Dudley District Court.

Christian Muller, 26, of 8 Crystal St., Webster, and Marc S. Letang, 19, 501 Plantation St., Worcester both pled not guilty in separate arraignments before Judge Neil G. Snider. Each man is charged with two counts of murder and one count of armed assault to commit murder. Both defendants were held without bail.

Judge Snider ordered that Muller undergo a 20-day psychiatric evaluation at Bridgewater State Hospital.
Judge Snider set Aug. 16 for pre-trial conferences in both cases in Dudley District Court.
District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said Aaron Bash, 31, and Denise Johnston, 26, died from gunshot wounds to the head. The shooting happened sometime before 12:42 a.m. yesterday in their home, a         

third floor apartment at 25 West Main St., Dudley. A third victim, also suffering a gunshot wound to the head, survived and was treated at the University Campus of the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester, according to Mr. Early.

Mr. Muller was arrested at 1 p.m. yesterday at 22 Granite St., Webster. Mr. Letang, who had been sought by police for questioning, was arrested today after he turned himself in at the Webster Police Department.

Arrest Made in Double Slaying in Dudley

July 9, 2007

DUDLEY – A Webster man, wanted in connection with the shooting deaths of two people in Dudley early this morning, was arrested today as part of an ongoing investigation by State Police detectives and the Dudley and Webster police departments, according to Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.

Christian Muller, 26, of 8 Crystal St., Webster, was arrested at 22 Granite St., Webster at about 1 p.m. and charged with two counts of murder and one count of armed assault to commit murder. He is being held at the Dudley Police Department and will be arraigned tomorrow in Dudley District Court.

“I want to commend the Dudley and Webster Police Departments and the State Police Detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office for their great coordinated effort to make this arrest,” Mr. Early said. “However, the investigation is continuing. We are developing information

now that we hope will lead us to the murder weapon.”

The shooting, at 25 West Main St., Dudley, left a man and a woman dead and another woman hospitalized. All three victims were shot in the head. The incident was reported to Dudley Police at 12:42 a.m. in a 911 call. The man, in his 30s, was pronounced dead at the scene. Both women, in their 20s, were transported to the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester. One woman died at 3:10 a.m. The other woman, still hospitalized, is expected to survive her injuries.

The names of the victims will not be made public until their relatives are notified by police

Milford Mother Indicted in Death of Baby

June 19, 2007

MILFORD – The mother of a newborn baby that was discovered in a garbage truck in January was indicted today in connection with the baby’s death by a Worcester Grand Jury, according to Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.

Allissa Pugh, 28, of 263 Purchase St., Milford was indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter and improper disposal of a body. The body of the infant was found on January 6 as workers were collecting garbage in Ms. Pugh’s neighborhood.

The medical examiner’s report says that the infant died of injuries sustained around the time of birth.

“This has been a challenging case from the very beginning,” Mr. Early said. “However, after dozens of interviews and an extensive investigation by the Medical Examiner’s Office and a neonatal pathologist from Massachusetts General Hospital, we presented the case to the grand jury.”

Mr. Early thanked Assistant District Attorney Blake J. Rubin, the State Police Detectives assigned to his office under the direction of

Detective Lt. Richard McKeon, Chief Thomas J. O’Loughlin and the Milford Detectives, Dr. Henry Nields of the Medical Examiner’s Office and Dr. Drucilla Roberts of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Pathology Department.

“It has been a long investigation,” said Chief O’Loughlin. “But I know the investigators never forgot the victim in this case and did a very professional job.”

The indictments allege that Ms. Pugh delivered a full-term boy in her home and placed the baby in a trash bag. That bag, along with others, was collected by workers for an independent trash hauler that is under contract with the town.

Ms. Pugh was arrested today and will be held in jail overnight. She will be arraigned tomorrow in Worcester Superior Court. If she is found guilty, Ms. Pugh could be sentenced to up to 20 years on the manslaughter charge and up to 3 years on the improper disposal of a body charge

Body of Missing Spencer Woman Found

June 9, 2007

SPENCER — The body of Cheri O. Robinson was found today at the end of a thorough search in the woods behind the abandoned Pleasant Street School.

The body was found 345 yards from the school in a shallow grave in the thick woods.

The cause of death will be determined by the office of the state medical examiner. An autopsy has been scheduled for tomorrow.

Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. praised the efforts of the searchers from the Spencer Police Department, police from surrounding towns, state police Search and Emergency Response Team, state Environmental Police, Worcester County Sheriff Guy W. Glodis’ Rapid Response Team, Central Mass Search and Rescue, and Berkshire Mountain Search and Rescue.
The search began in the rain at 8 a.m. and ended a little more than nine hours later.

Mrs. Robinson was first reported missing May 15 when co-workers at Allegro MicroSystems in Worcester requested that Spencer Police conduct a wellness check at her home at 9 School St., Spencer. After a long standoff   

with police, her husband Paul W. Robinson shot and killed himself. Before the suicide, Mr. Robinson told police he had killed his wife and buried her body in the woods behind the boarded-up Pleasant Street School.

“We really appreciate the work of the searchers,” Mr. Early said. “This was the final chapter in a terrible tragedy. We hope this provides some solace for the family.”

The body was found in dense woods 235 yards from the home of Mr. Robinson’s parents. More than 80 searchers were in the woods today.

“We are thankful to all the groups that worked through some tough conditions today,” said Spencer Police Chief David Darrin. “We are pleased to offer some closure to the family.”

Detective Lt. Richard McKeon, head of the state police detective unit assigned to the district attorney’s office, coordinated the search. State Police Sgt. James Nan of led the Search and Emergency Response Team. 

Coordinated Search Planned for Missing Spencer Woman

June 7, 2007

Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. announced today that officers from Spencer Police Department, state police Search and Emergency Response Team, K-9 teams, state Environmental Police and Worcester County Sheriff Guy W. Glodis’ Rapid Response Team among other groups will conduct a systematic and thorough search for the body of Cheri O. Robinson in several wooded areas of Spencer on Saturday.

Mrs. Robinson was first reported missing May 15 when co-workers at Allegro MicroSystems in Worcester requested that Spencer Police conduct a wellness check at her home at 9 School St., Spencer. After a long standoff with police, her husband Paul W. Robinson shot and killed himself. Before the suicide, Mr. Robinson told police he had killed his wife and buried her body in the woods behind the boarded-up Pleasant Street School.

“Both law enforcement searchers and volunteers have spent many hours in the woods looking for the victim,” Mr. Early said. “This concerted effort is an attempt to bring some closure to the family and friends of Mrs. Robinson.”

Several areas of Spencer have been searched for the body.

“We hope that the coordinated search with many public safety personnel from the state and local jurisdictions will prove successful,” said Spencer Police Chief David Darrin. “This has been a horrible tragedy for the family and friends of Cheri Robinson and the whole town of Spencer.”

Detective Lt. Richard McKeon, head of the state police detective unit assigned to the district attorney’s office, is coordinating the search. State Police Sgt. James Nanof will lead the Search and Emergency Response Team.

DA Early Meets on Interstate Issues With Rhode Island Attorney General

June 1, 2007

Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. joined his counterparts from the Norfolk and Bristol districts and the attorney generals from Massachusetts and Rhode Island to discuss joint investigations this week.

“Crime doesn’t stop at the border and neither should we,” said Mr. Early, summing up the sentiments of the officials at the meeting. “When crimes are committed on both sides of the border, it’s to everyone’s advantage to share information and work together.”

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch attended the meeting Thursday in Lynch’s Providence office. Norfolk District Attorney William R. Keating and Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter also participated in the meeting, which laid the

groundwork for efficient use of resources when needed.

Among the issues discussed were communications among offices when handling crimes that cross borders; major case protocol; avoiding duplication of efforts; and the ongoing MySpace investigation by the National Association of the Attorney Generals. The officials also began discussions of how to best to track and deal with sex offenders who cross state lines.

Mr. Lynch said the meeting reinforced the idea that when something bad happens, the various law enforcement offices “will fly in the same formation.”

Mother Arrested in Death of Two-Year-Old Gardner Girl

May 23, 2007

GARDNER – The mother of a 2-year-old girl who was found unresponsive with apparent traumatic injuries last week, was arrested today in connection with the toddler’s death.

Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said Michele Lepkowski, 32, of 55 Grant St. was arrested tonight at the Gardner Police Department and charged with assault and battery on a child causing substantial bodily injury and wanton or reckless behavior creating risk of serious bodily injury to a child (reckless child endangerment).

Raelynn T. Mascal, who would have turned 3 on June 14, was pronounced dead at 12:35 p.m. Friday in Henry Heywood Hospital. She had been transported to the hospital by ambulance after police responded to a 911 call to 55 Grant St. — second floor.

The child had obvious traumatic injuries, Mr. Early said. Complete findings from the autopsy, performed over the weekend at the Medical Examiner’s office in Boston, are unavailable pending more testing. Further charges could be brought and the death remains under investigation, according to Mr. Early.

Ms. Lepkowski is being held at the Gardner Police Department on $100,000 cash bail and will be arraigned tomorrow in Gardner District Court.

Mr. Early credited the state police detectives assigned to his office under the direction of Detective Lt. Richard McKeon and Gardner police under the direction of Chief Neil Erickson for the hard work that led to the arrest.

State and Gardner Police Investigate Death of Two-Year-Old Girl

May 19, 2007

GARDNER — State Police detectives assigned to District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.’s office and Gardner Police continue to investigate the death of a 2-year-old girl in Gardner.

The girl was brought to Henry Heywood Hospital after police responded to a 911 call to 55 Grant Street, 2nd floor Friday morning. She was found unresponsive with apparent traumatic injuries.

The girl was pronounced dead at 12:35 p.m. An autopsy is scheduled to be performed today at the Medical Examiner’s office in Boston.

Convicted Drug Dealer Runs, but Cannot Hide from Justice

May 7, 2007

WORCESTER — A 24-year-old city man, who walked away from Superior Court last week while a jury was considering his drug trafficking case, was sentenced to 3 to 5 years in state prison today.

Judge Bruce Henry handed down the sentence in the same courtroom where Francisco H. Rivas of 72 Outlook Drive, Apt. 33, was convicted last week. Mr. Rivas, who was free on bail, had been in court for the trial, but bolted before the jury returned with its verdict.
Mr. Rivas was arrested by Worcester police Thursday night and sent to the Worcester County House of Correction.

“We had a solid case against Mr. Rivas and he must have known it,” said Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. “Assistant District Attorney Maura McCarthy did a great job prosecuting the case and city police did a good job to bring this defendant back to court to face the judge.”

Milford Man Indicted for Stealing Nearly $400,000

April 24, 2007

Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. announced today that a suspended insurance broker will be arraigned on larceny charges in Worcester Superior Court on Friday.

Michael J. Minnehan, 60, of 76 West St., Milford, was indicted last week by a Worcester County Grand Jury. He is charged with three counts of larceny over $250 by common scheme, victim 60 or older; two counts of larceny over $250 by common scheme; and four counts of impersonation of an insurance agent or broker.
“The evidence presented to the grand jury showed a nine-year pattern of misappropriating money entrusted to Mr. Minnehan by clients,” Mr. Early said. “The total funds allegedly stolen in the scheme amount to about $400,000.”

Mr. Minnehan was a licensed insurance agent/broker in the 1990’s. The indictments allege that, beginning in August of 1997 and until March of 2007, Mr. Minnehan stole money that had been entrusted to him by clients. According to the Massachusetts Division of Insurance, Minnehan agreed to a 10-year revocation of his    

agent’s/broker’s license, effective May 30, 2000.

The indictments allege that since his suspension in 2000, through March of 2007, Mr. Minnehan continued to portray himself as a licensed insurance agent/broker, or as being engaged in the insurance business. The indictments also allege that after his license was revoked, Mr. Minnehan continued to solicit money under the false pretense that he would invest the money in annuity accounts. The indictments allege that Minnehan instead diverted the money to his own bank accounts for his own use.

The case is being investigated by Milford Police Detective Craig Stanley and Michael Gray of the Insurance Fraud Bureau of Massachusetts. It is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney John A. O’Leary, Director of District Attorney Early’s Financial Crimes Unit.

Mr. Minnehan, like all defendants in a criminal case, is presumed innocent until proven otherwise.

Bomb Found in Clothes Bin is Safely Detonated

February 12, 2007

CHARLTON – A bomb, found in a metal clothes bin along Route 20, was taken to a secluded, wooded area of town and detonated today by the state police bomb squad.

There were no injuries.

Acting on an anonymous tip, state police from the Charlton and Sturbridge barracks, Charlton police and Charlton fire departments responded at about 7 a.m. today. The bomb was found in a charity clothes bin in a parking lot along Route 20 near a golf driving range. The eastbound lane of Route 20 was closed while the bomb was removed.

The bomb, consisting of a 32-year-old hand grenade, more than half of a pound of military plastic explosive, five electric blasting caps and five copper or bronze blasting caps, was transported in a town Public Works dump truck to the wooded area off Oxbow Road. The bomb was buried in sand for its short ride. Route 20 was closed briefly while the bomb was transported.

State police detectives assigned to Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early’s office are investigating.

Assistant DA Recognized as Lawyer of the Year

February 6, 2007

WORCESTER — Ellyn H. Lazar-Moore, a lawyer in the appeals division of the Worcester District Attorney’s office, has been named one of 11 Lawyers of the Year by Lawyers Weekly.

“It’s a pleasure to work with someone of Ellyn’s caliber,” said Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. “She raises the bar for all lawyers. Ellyn is a credit to her family, her community and the district attorney’s office.”

Ms. Lazar-Moore has worked in the appeals division for eight years and has appeared before the state Appeals Court and the state Supreme Judicial Court numerous times. She has argued several cases before the SJC involving challenges to the sexually dangerous persons law. However, one of her most interesting and important cases last year involved a simple car accident that occurred on July 4, 2002.

“I think the case presented an interesting legal question, but it was also interesting to a lot of people because I think the average person could imagine themselves as the defendant or the victim,” Ms. Lazar-Moore said. “They were just average people driving down the street.”

The case was an appeal by a driver who was convicted of motor vehicle homicide. Evidence in the case showed that the defendant had failed to stop at a blinking red light and struck another. The victim, who was ill at the time

of the accident, suffered chest and lung injuries. While hospitalized her breathing was aided by a ventilator. The victim chose to be taken off the ventilator and died four days later.

The defendant appealed the conviction, arguing that removing the ventilator, and not the car accident, caused the death.

“Our argument was that even if you are older and sick, you should have the same protection under the law,” Ms. Lazar-Moore said. “The court said you have to take the victim as they are.”

Ms. Lazar-Moore, who lives in Millbury with her husband and two children, reduced her work week by 20 percent two years ago after her second child was born. “This award is a tribute to hard-working mothers,” she said.

The 11 Lawyers of the Year were honored at a dinner last week hosted by Lawyers Weekly at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel.

Man Charged in 1992 Kidnapping & Assault

February 2, 2007

LEICESTER – Leicester Police Chief James Hurley and Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. today announced that Martin D. Lovato, 46, of South Weymouth has been charged in connection with the 1992 kidnapping and sexual assault of a 17-year-old girl and the kidnapping of a 4 ½-month-old child.

Chief Hurley and District Attorney Early said the incident occurred in September of 1992 when the 17-year-old and 4 ½-month-old she was babysitting were abducted from the front yard of the babysitter’s home. Mr. Lovato is alleged to have been armed with a screwdriver when he threatened to harm the infant if the babysitter did not cooperate.

The investigation revealed that the victims were driven to a remote wooded area in Leicester where the assault on the babysitter occurred. The babysitter eventually managed to free herself and carry the baby out of the woods to a nearby road where she was assisted by neighbors.

The case resolved when the defendant was connected to evidence related to the crime.   

Leicester Police Officer Julie Berry was instrumental in collecting and marshaling that evidence during the investigation. Continuing efforts by the previous and current District Attorney’s offices have led to the result being announced today.

Mr. Lovato is charged with three counts of aggravated rape and two counts of kidnapping. He was arraigned today in East Brookfield District Court before Judge Robert Gardner. Bail was set at $50,000 or $500,000 with surety. The case was continued to March 26 for a pretrial conference.

DA Early Works With Legislators on Harboring Runaways Bill

January 26, 2007

Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr., with state Sen. Edward M. Augustus, Jr., D-Worcester, and state Rep. Jennifer L. Flanagan, D-Leominster, has proposed a bill to toughen the state’s law in dealing with people who harbor runaway children.

Unlike most other states, Massachusetts does not have specific language on the books to charge individuals who prey on vulnerable children who have fled their parents, legal guardian, the court or state agency. The new law would carry a one-year jail sentence and up to a $500 fine for anyone who knowingly and willfully conceals or harbors a juvenile who has taken flight.

“In a perfect world there are no runaways,” Mr. Early said. “Unfortunately in the real world kids do runaway and they are vulnerable to the advances of people who may seem to be their friends, but who really intend to do them great harm. This bill allows us to get tough with those who would take advantage of these kids.”

The bill, filed yesterday by Rep. Flanagan, is actually an amendment to the law that       

makes it a crime to contribute to the delinquency of a minor.

“Police officers are often frustrated when they find a runaway child living with a strange adult,” Rep. Flanagan said. “There is really no way for the officers to compel a confused child to leave this dangerous situation. With this change in the law, officers will have another tool to protect children.”

Mr. Early became interested in the problem while visiting Juvenile Court. Several court officials, including Judge Carol Erskine, talked about the loophole that allows some individuals to prey on children. Mr. Early contacted Rep. Flanagan and Sen. Augustus to work on a bill that would close the loophole.

“Kids who are on the run and scared can be vulnerable to sexual predators and con artists whose only interest is to use these kids for their own gain,” Sen. Augustus said. “With this change in the law, police departments across the Commonwealth will have another option in charging these individuals.”