Law enforcement

A new chapter for Saugus author

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
Michael Coller is running for Saugus selectman.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

SAUGUS — A private investigator and author of two controversial books is seeking a spot on the Board of Selectmen.

Given his law enforcement and investigation background, Michael Coller said he feels confident he can thoroughly research anything that comes before the board and make a well-informed decision in the town’s best interest.

“If you all have the same feelings to vote as one body, what’s the difference between having five different selectmen or just one,” said Coller. “I’m not challenging anyone on the board but I think finer points could be brought out. I’m hoping to create a little more degree of independence.”

Coller is on the Conservation Commission and Library Board of Trustees. He was born and raised in Saugus and graduated from Bridgewater State University with a degree in management.

He has worked as a security professional for 23 years, focusing specifically on large retail firms, criminal investigations, asset protection, and firearm licensing.

In his spare time, he enjoys writing. He takes pride in a series of books he’s working on, the Bruno Johnson series. He’s currently working on the third installment, which follows the main character, a private investigator, as he returns home to uncover political wrongdoings in local government.

Characters in the second book “Bruno Johnson: Against the Grain,” include Missiles, known for her “voluptuous breasts years ago (which) were worthy of being dipped in bronze. However, they now look like tube socks with baseballs sunk in the bottom;” Alisa, “a tiny peanut sized gal with what appeared to be fried eggs for breasts;” and Sue the Moo, who is “as big as a cow with four wrecking balls attached to her body. Two stuck on her chest and the other ones jammed in the seat of her pants.”

Labor of love in Revere

Coller maintains that while the plot of the books may mirror local politics, the similarities are “purely coincidental.” He admitted he changed the names of characters in his book to protect the identities of real people but called his work fictional.

Like himself, he said Johnson is a character who refuses to knock on doors; he just opens them.

“I surely have the creativity to research what I need to research to come to a sound decision that will benefit the town,” he said. “This town shouldn’t be a stepping stone. I’m looking for a balance between property taxes and commercial taxes. As far as a new high school, it’s only going to help our property values. I don’t have children in the schools but I support a new high school. It’s going to help our town.”

If elected, Coller hopes to contribute to the revitalization of the town’s waterfront and Cliftondale Square.

“I went to Saugus High School with some of the people who own businesses (in Cliftondale Square),” he said. “It’s not as prominent as Saugus Center with the library and Town Hall. I think it’s gotten kind of dreary while Saugus Center is more welcoming. It needs some work. When I grew up here, it was as busy or busier than Saugus Center.”

Last year, a study of the square using a $10,000 Massachusetts Downtown Initiative grant found that 72 percent of the square’s businesses are independently owned. With more than 192,000 square feet of commercial space, the 66 existing businesses are underutilized, with some retail stores seeing fewer than 30 customers a day.

Coller worked as a commercial fisherman in Saugus, Gloucester, and Boston while putting himself through college and said he has an understanding for the importance of improving the waterfront area.

Town Clerk Ellen Schena said potential candidates can take out papers to run for office in July. Board of Selectmen candidates will be required to obtain 50 signatures and return the papers by Sept. 19.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

Hebb, Doughty expected to be arraigned

ITEM FILE PHOTOS
Michael Hebb, left, and Wes Doughty are accused in connection with the killing of a Peabody couple.

SALEM Two men facing charges in connection with the February killing of a Peabody couple are scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Salem Superior Court.

Wes Doughty, 39, will be arraigned on two counts of murder and rape, attempted arson, carjacking, kidnapping, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Co-defendant, Michael Hebb, 45, will also be arraigned on two counts of accessory after the fact and one count of attempted arson.

The bodies of Mark Greenlaw, 37, and fiancee Jennifer O’Connor, 40, were found in the basement of a Farm Avenue home on Feb. 18. Greenlaw had been shot in the head and O’Connor was stabbed in her neck and torso.

Brothers face murder for fatal brick attack

In addition to being accused of killing the couple, Doughty allegedly raped O’Connor, took steps to set the Farm Avenue house on fire, and carjacked Kenneth Metz, 64, in Middleton days later while on the run, according to law enforcement officials.

Police in South Carolina arrested Doughty on Feb. 24 after questioning him for panhandling. Investigators discovered he was wanted for the Peabody double homicide in Peabody and the carjacking.

Hebb was indicted for two counts of accessory after the fact and one count of attempted arson. Murder charges he was arraigned on Feb. 21 in Peabody District Court have been dismissed.

 

Students explore careers at Shadow Day

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
Saugus Police Department Det. Frank Morello, left, and Det. Sgt. Paul VanSteensburg, third from right, taught Saugus High School juniors, from left, Brittaney Sudanowicz, Robert McGrane, Briana Forgione, Mike Rothwell, Allie Kotkowsky, Hayden Costa, Tiffany Bravo, Alexa Faysal, and Christian Heffernan, how to safely handle and shoot a gun.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

SAUGUS — While some high schoolers were learning how to bake Thursday morning, others were learning how to safely shoot a gun.

More than 60 high schoolers shadowed professionals in the workforce to get a taste of the careers they are interested in. Laurie Golan, a math teacher at the school who retired last spring, organized the program for more than 20 years. This May, the tradition was passed on to guidance councilor Bethany Norton.

Saugus Firefighter Bill Cross said he’s been volunteering for Shadow Day for more than two decades and has seen at least five students grow up to work for the department.

Three juniors took on a day as a firefighter Thursday: Danny McCullough, Ryan Groark, and Nick Sanderson. All three admitted the job was more difficult than they expected, though none of them were ready to step down from the challenge.

“We did a simulation of a fire and it was really hard doing that simulation,” said McCullough. “We wore back out shields and had no idea where we were. But (in this job) you’re making a difference.”

“It’s cool how they do their jobs and save lives,” said Sanderson.

Intoxicated teen at elected official’s home

During their visit, Cross said they put up an aerialStere practicing in an unrealistic setting that didn’t involve smoke, heat, or the anxiety of getting someone out of a burning building.

“They did it all wrong, they didn’t stick together, but that’s how you learn,” Cross said.

Next door at the Saugus Police Department, about half-a-dozen teens toured the station, got a glimpse at the holding cells, and learned how to shoot AR-15 rifles and glock handguns. The students were taught about firearm safety before setting out for the shooting range.

Alice Kotkowski, a junior, said she recently decided to pursue a career in law enforcement. She’s interested in becoming a private investigator or working in forensic science.

“I just think it’s really cool how they can figure out who people are through such little evidence and with science,” she said.

Brittney Sudanowicz liked learning how to shoot a gun. She hasn’t decided on a career path, but said that law enforcement is in the running. She was surprised to learn Thursday how many different jobs there are in police work.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

ADL continues to push for change

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg addresses the crowd.

By THOMAS GRILLO

SALEM — Days after the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) questioned a Malden school for disciplining black students who wear hair extensions, more than 300 police, educators, and students packed the group’s Essex County Law and Education Day Breakfast on Wednesday.

“The school’s policy led to the student’s removal from participating in after school sports, banned from the school prom and numerous detentions,” said Melissa Garlick, ADL’s civil rights attorney about the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School which has faced criticism for its decision to punish African-American female students who wear braid extensions.  “ADL will continue to push for change at the school to ensure equal education opportunities and treatment for all.”

The 25th annual Law and Education Day at the Kernwood Country Club gathered legal, education, law enforcement, and interfaith leaders to honor individuals who have made contributions to the North Shore.

State Sen. Joan Lovely (D-Salem) and Peter Quimby, headmaster of The Governor’s Academy, a Byfield private school, were recognized.

This year’s theme is “Gender and Bias: Building an equitable future for all.”

In her keynote address, state Treasurer Deborah Goldberg said it appears not much progress has been made when it comes to equal pay for equal work.

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“We have been talking about equal pay since almost before I was born,” she said. “In fact, in the 1970s my mother was talking about equal pay. I thank ADL for being on the front lines for combating discrimination in so many different ways and fighting for fair treatment and bringing people together.”

Goldberg cited data that in Massachusetts women earn 82 cents on a $1 compared to men, Asian women earn 80 cents, African American women get 62 cents and Latina women just 50 cents.

She said pay equity is not just a woman’s issue. Goldberg recalled as a candidate for treasurer she was approached by a blue collar worker.

“What’s your issue and why are you running, the man asked me,” she recalled. “I told him it’s wage equality. He said, ‘That’s my issue because I have a wife and three daughters and none of them get paid what they’re worth and it all falls on me.’ You could have knocked me over with a feather.”  

In closing remarks, Rhonda Gilberg, the North Shore Advisory Committee chairwoman, thanked participants for their contribution to the event.

“We are honored to have you as partners to stand together against bias and hate, working to build an equitable future for all,” she said.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

Budget cuts end Summer Police Academy

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Jeffery Robles, left, and Aratris Chaviano dust for fingerprints at the Lynn Summer Police Academy.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN — The Lynn Summer Police Academy has been canceled because of shortfalls in the budget.

The Lynn Police Department posted on its Facebook page Tuesday that the six-week program would not run in the Summer of 2017 because of  “severe budget cuts.” Last year, the academy graduated 47 students from the six-week program in its 10th year.

The free academy is broken up into classroom time and hands-on activities with lectures by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Lynn Police Department. It’s intended to offer teenagers interested in law enforcement real-life policing experience.

It is organized by student resource officers Bob Hogan, Ryan McDermott, and Mark Lee, who work hands-on with the students, and paid for by the city. More than 90 teens, age 13 to 18, applied last year and 60 were chosen to participate. According to the Facebook post, applications had already begin to flow in for this summer’s program.

Beyond Walls neon art lighting on Wednesday

The students, or cadets, learn about Lynn’s domestic violence unit, gang unit, drug task force and identification unit. The crime scene reconstruction unit creates a mockup of a scene and challenges the participants to act as detectives and solve the crime.

The cadets go on field trips and learn from agencies that don’t typically offer such services, McDermott said. A trip to the State House, Gillette Stadium, both Lynn courthouses, Middleton House of Corrections, and a ride on a State Police boat were just a few of the group’s adventures last year.

Police Chief Michael Mageary told the City Council’s Public Safety and Public Health Committee in April his department is operating with 181 officers, down from about 193 in 2013. Based on next year’s budget and contractual obligations, he predicted the trend would continue. Last year, the department downsized to six patrol cars with two officers in each, from six one-person patrol cars and four, two-person cars, he said.

“We hope to bring this program back in 2018. We apologize to everyone who already submitted an application,” the post reads.

City seeking student sanctuary

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN — The School Committee adopted a policy to protect students from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“It would be bad if we turned our backs on these kids,” said Oscar Ross, who has a daughter in Lynn Public Schools who dreams of being both a police officer and a cook. “If we don’t give them the chance to be what they want to be.”

Mary Sweeney, a retired teacher, said that during her career, students had to worry about getting their homework done.

“I never faced situations of kids being deeply afraid,” said Sweeney. “I think with the issues of immigration and ICE — it’s a reality.”

The panel voted unanimously to adopt a policy that affirms the schools are safe and welcoming sanctuaries for all students, regardless of their immigration status. The document said the resolutions are intended to ensure that all Lynn Public Schools students have the same right to a free, public education and will be treated equally.

“The mission of Lynn Public Schools is to maintain a multicultural school community dedicated to the realization of the full intellectual, physical, social and emotional potential of its students,” reads the resolution. “The city is enriched and strengthened by its diverse cultural heritage, multinational population, and welcoming attitude toward newcomers.”

Committee member John Ford pointed out that while he agreed with where the resolutions were coming from, he believed they were only reaffirming what the district already does. Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham agreed.

“I believe we have welcoming schools and that our teachers are wonderful and welcoming,” said Latham. “We have not had a case where ICE has come into our schools.”

She added that she believes ICE is restricted from taking immigrants into custody at schools and churches.

“Rather than us saying we already do that, we’ll be able to say that we have a policy for that,” said committee member Donna Coppola. “I think it would be a huge reassurance to our students. Let’s be upfront and be what we are — a proud community — and show others that we care.”

Immigrant-worker march set for Monday

Latham and committee members expressed concerns about a resolution included in the original draft that prohibited federal immigration law enforcement officers, or personnel assisting them, from entering a school building.

“I worry about training teachers not to allow law enforcement to come into the building,” she said.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy added that she was “very uncomfortable” with the section of the resolution because it should be recognized that federal law supersedes local law.

“It seems to me that it’s not a valid exercise of a city’s rights in the presence of federal government,” she said.

The panel amended the resolution to state that law enforcement can enter the building, but must remain in the main office until his or her credentials are verified and the superintendent is notified. The vote will be subject to final approval of the language.

Under the policy, the district will not inquire about, record, or request information intended to reveal the immigration status of a student or their family members. They will not disclose private information without parental consent, and staff will refuse to share all voluntary information with immigration agencies to the fullest extent permissible by the law.

All requests for information from a student’s education record will be immediately forwarded to the School Department’s attorney. The motion also noted that the district does not ask for immigration status when families register children for school.

A letter will be sent to parents and staff summarizing the resolutions in simple language. A list of all available resources, including community-based organizations and legal service organizations, will be provided to each student and made available at each school. It will be translated when necessary. Teachers will be trained on the policy before the start of the school year, when they become familiarized with all other policies.

In the next 90 days, Latham will be expected to develop a plan for training teachers, administrators and other staff on the new policy and best practices for ensuring the wellbeing of students, who may be affected by immigration enforcement actions. The plan will be implemented within five months.Legis

A copy of the resolution will be submitted to the Massachusetts Attorney General and to Lynn’s federal, state, and local legislative representatives.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

 

Time to prioritize in Lynn

It’s been a tough two months for city Police Chief Michael Mageary who has seen his officers and detectives respond to four homicides, including two deadly daylight shootings. To be sure, the four incidents were unrelated and some arrests have been made, with the suspect in the Central Square shooting on Easter still at large.

With recent violence in mind, City Councilors invited Mageary and Fire Chief James McDonald to council committee meetings on Tuesday to discuss “recent public safety issues.” It is not surprising the exchange between the elected officials and the public safety leaders focused on spending.

Mageary said the Police Department has 181 officers today compared to 193 in 2010. McDonald, a career public safety officer like Mageary, said Lynn’s eight aging fire stations need to be replaced.

In a perfect world, public safety gets top priority and somehow tax dollars pay to put a police officer on every corner and a firehouse in every neighborhood. That is not reality and Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy made it clear she is struggling to make sure the city complies with burdensome state school spending formulas even as she tries to spend more money on police and fire departments.

There was a time 25 years ago when the federal government opened the spending spigot and sent a flood of money into Lynn and other cities. The money paid for police officers and firefighters and innovative policing programs that put cops on bicycles and on foot in neighborhoods.

Immigrant-worker march set for Monday

In the last 15 years, public safety departments in communities across the state have turned to grant money to hire new officers and firefighters. The problem with grants is that communities eventually have to incorporate the hires into their salary budgets once the grant money runs out.

Putting a cop on every corner could not have guaranteed a murder-free March and April in Lynn. But a heightened sense of police protection helps residents feel they are safe and gives them more opportunities to work with police to point out potential problems, including properties where drug dealing might be taking place, or playgrounds where gangs may be trying to stake out turf.

Mageary knows all about police work and he has seen budget shortfalls come and go during his career. He knows that some of the most effective police work often takes place behind the scenes and out of public view. Coordinated efforts to crack down on drug dealers and gangs can take months to plan with multiple law enforcement agencies involved.

Efforts to pull guns off streets and reduce violence also involve agencies working in many different communities and, sometimes, across state lines to get results.

It is often said that spending less means working smarter. Kennedy, Mageary, McDonald and the council should meet often during the next several months and develop a city budget for the spending year that starts on July 1 filled with strategies for addressing Lynn’s public safety priorities.

A son finds purpose after father’s murder

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
Edwin Woo wipes away a tear as he speaks about the 2011 murder of his father, Shui Keung “Tony” Woo.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

PEABODY — More than five years after Shui Keung “Tony” Woo was murdered in his family-owned restaurant, his grieving son addressed a room full of law enforcement officers about their impact.

“I never felt like it was just a job or just a murder case to any of you,” he told a room full of police officers, detectives, assistant district attorneys, and victim advocates at Peabody City Hall Tuesday.

Edwin Woo reflected on Sept. 27, 2011, the day his dad was brutally killed at the Majestic Dragon by three men who broke into the Route 1 restaurant intending to rob it.

Assistant Essex County District Attorney Maureen Wilson Leal said Tony Woo and his wife Annie Woo moved to the United States from China to pursue the American dream. They worked hard for many years, their son said. Tony Woo worked three jobs and his wife worked as a seamstress while they were raising Edwin and his brother Adam. They saved their money to buy the restaurant in 1987.

“Despite their tireless efforts, their dream was shattered,” Leal said.

While Tony Woo was sleeping on a cot in a back room of the restaurant, which he sometimes did when he felt too tired to drive home to Quincy, Cheng Sun, Sifa Lee, and Jun Di Lin broke into the restaurant through a skylight at about 3 a.m.. They attempted to rob him, tied his hands and feet and beat and strangled him to death. After five long years of court proceedings in Salem Superior Court, they were all convicted of murder.

Edwin Woo said one of the murderers was a former employee of the restaurant whom his father tried to help get on his feet.

Saugus sweet on new bakery

After his father’s murder, pursuing a career in law enforcement felt right for him, he said. He has traded in his career in finance for a pair of handcuffs and now works as an outreach officer for the Braintree Police Department.

“In the aftermath, Adam and my mom stepped up with the restaurant,” Edwin Woo said. “The little ones (Tony Woo’s three grandchildren) at some point are going to find out what happened to their grandfather. I don’t want that to be the end of his story. I went into policing to continue the story.”

Edwin Woo thanked a state police officer for advising him not to see his father on the day of his murder, public relations officers for keeping the media at bay when talking to reporters was the last thing his family wanted to do, and Leal for becoming a part of his family. He said it was easy to forget that most of the people who worked on the case had never met his father.

“Speaking on behalf of my mother and brother, know that what you do generally does make a difference,” he said. “It takes a special person to do what you do and go home and have a life and a family.”


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

FAA says one helicopter was law enforcement

LYNN — The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed the presence of two helicopters over the area Thursday afternoon. The Item checked into reports after receiving phone calls about a low-flying helicopter over the city.

A representative with an East-Coast FAA facility in Atlanta, Ga. said one helicopter was law enforcement; the other was media. Both appeared to be outside the range of air-traffic control at Boston Logan International Airport, he said.

The media helicopter appeared to hover over Route 128, he said. He was not able to specify the track of the law enforcement helicopter or a more-specific time frame.

When asked at 6:10 p.m., Lynn Police Lt. Dave Brown said he had no information to share.

Lowell man accused of swindling homeowners

By THOMAS GRILLO

BOSTON — A real estate broker who authorities say swindled Lynn homeowners has been indicted on additional charges, according to Attorney General Maura Healey.

Kevin Taing, 49, of Lowell, faces jail time in connection with stealing more than $464,000 through a larceny scheme targeting families facing foreclosure.

This is the second time Taing has been charged. Last fall, he was indicted on larceny charges and obtaining a signature by false pretenses that resulted in the theft of more than $165,000 from homeowners in Lynn and Lowell.

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Healey’s office began an investigation into the licensed real estate broker and principal of EFI, in 2014. Authorities allege Taing, who is of Cambodian descent and speaks Khmer, persuaded 11 Cambodian homeowners facing foreclosure to make payments to EFI rather than their mortgage lender.

Law enforcement officials further allege that Taing led these families to believe that by paying EFI they would reduce their monthly payments and keep their homes.

Instead, Taing allegedly used the cash to pay his personal expenses, credit card bills, restaurant and retail expenses.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Sheriff settles into his new office

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Essex County Sheriff Kevin Coppinger talks about this first three months in office.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

MIDDLETON Former Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger, settling into his new job as Essex County sheriff after being sworn in in January, is focusing on the budget and reducing the recidivism rate among inmates at the Essex County Correctional Facility.

The biggest issue right now is the budget, Coppinger said. The department has a projected $19 million deficit through June 30, the end of the current fiscal year. Out of the 14 sheriff’s departments in the state, he said Essex County is one of the four that have been traditionally underfunded and lives off supplemental budgets through the legislature.

Coppinger said his goal is to get the budget stabilized and fully funded as of July 1 each year. He said the budget cycle for FY18 is ongoing, but right now, the struggle is to come up with the $19 million to get through the rest of the fiscal year.

The sheriff said one of the reasons he ran, after 34 years as a cop, was because he wanted to see some change. He’s a third-generation police officer, who started off with the Lynnfield Police Department, before transferring to Lynn.

Coppinger said he often saw the same individuals arrested and brought back. He said it was a revolving wheel, and called the department’s 47 percent recidivism rate last year outrageous. He wants to see some changes, and plans on a program audit to look at all of the different programs in the department. The goal is to improve the programs for the inmates to address that cycle.

“When the inmates come in, the goal is when they are released, they’re released in better shape than when they came in,” Coppinger said. “Again, the long-term goal is that they don’t recidivate. So, somebody commits a crime, they get sentenced here — the average sentence is nine months. We want to make sure (when) they leave the door, they don’t come back.”

A candid look at life on the streets

One of the department’s highlights, Coppinger said, is the detox program, which works closely with the courts, particularly the drug courts. There is a program for men and women, which includes 42 beds in each unit and 28-day programs. Other programs include anger management, GED for their high school equivalencies and work releases, he added.

The work program for inmates is through the pre-release center in Lawrence, better known as the farm. Coppinger said it’s getting to the point in the season where the sheriff’s department will do a lot more community service work, so inmate work crews will be sent to the municipalities and nonprofits if they want something done.

Coppinger said it also helps the department to send inmates to be released back into the communities to the pre-release center.

“They don’t just sit in a cell for nine months and then we open up the doors and they go home,” he said. “We put them through programs. They leave here and they go to Lawrence. They’re hopefully a work release. They come back at night. Some of them are on bracelets. Some of them are in our custody full-time. And then, you slowly get them acclimated to go back into community life. It’s a multi-faceted set of goals we have.”

Coppinger said the facilities for inmates in the department also operate on a risk-based system. For instance, those involved in the work release are not violent or career criminals, but low-risk inmates who may be serving time for motor vehicle violations or child support issues. With the detox programs, drug dealers would not be allowed in, but those charged with drug possession would.

He said there are also segregation cells for the hardcore criminals. Gang members have to be separated from each other. The key is classification, Coppinger said, and when the inmate comes in the door, the goal is to gather as much information on them as possible to get them into the right buildings and programs. In Middleton, where the sheriff’s office is located, there are 11 buildings for the jail.

A women’s facility is in Salisbury. Most women go to Framingham, including all those convicted of violent crimes, Coppinger said. There are 24 beds in Salisbury, he said, and when women can be held there for other, more minor offenses, they are.

The department also oversees offices of community correction in Lynn, Lawrence and Salisbury, Coppinger said.

Keeping inmates busy with programs keeps them productive, Coppinger said. By sending more productive members back into the community, he said it might lighten the load on law enforcement. There could be fewer calls to police, and they could better address other issues that need their attention. Reform is not a new philosophy, he said, but he and his staff are just bringing a new perspective.

“I just think I bring a little bit different perspective based on my law enforcement background,” Coppinger said. “I know what the root causes of crime are. I watched them for 30 odd years. You see what drives a lot of folks to crime. Hopefully, between these initiatives and working with the cities and towns and even in prevention mechanisms, we can make a dent. We’re certainly not going to completely eradicate crime. If we can knock down that recidivism rate, it’s all the better.”


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

Revisiting a crime scene 30 years later

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Pictured is the Caruana home at 3 Jayne Circle in Peabody. Note the surveillance camera mounted over the garage.

By LEAH DEARBORN

PEABODY — It’s been three decades since a massive raid on notorious drug smuggler Salvatore M. “Sonny” Caruana’s West Peabody compound took place.

On Feb. 6, a team of law enforcement officers seized three houses and a tennis court that made up Caruana’s compound on Jayne Circle, leading to the discovery of dozens of weapons and a labyrinth of secret passageways.

Caruana, who wasn’t home at the time of the raid, had been previously indicted for smuggling over 77 tons of marijuana valued at $173 million, according to The Item’s coverage in 1987.  

Each of the homes were equipped with remote-controlled video cameras on their roofs that connected to a central monitoring station in Caruana’s private residence at 3 Jayne Circle, said The Item.

The raid on the main residence unearthed oddities like a trick bookcase that led to a walk-in compartment. A hidden vault in the basement was protected by tear gas bombs and concealed yet another smaller vault inside its walls.  

“You don’t forget those things,” said retired state trooper Arthur Bourque, who gave Caruana a short ride on the hood of his car decades ago, before the February raid took place.

Bourque, a Lynnfield resident, said it was a quiet Sunday afternoon when he and fellow trooper Richard Fraelich were confronted by a hostile Caruana and his dog while making their rounds in the neighborhood.

When the troopers tried to leave the scene, the dog jumped onto Fraelich’s lap. Bourque said Caruana himself got up on the hood of the vehicle and remained there for a short time as the two officers drove slowly down Winona Street.  

Caruana would later file a complaint regarding the incident that was dismissed in Peabody District Court. The episode wasn’t the first of its kind; Caruana was convicted for sicking two dogs on FBI agents attempting to serve a subpoena in 1979.

“Everyone who lived on the street were his goons, his followers,” said Bourque, who had moved to a different unit by the time the raid took place. “He had a pretty substantial criminal operation.”

Remarks made by former mob underboss William “The Wild Guy” Grasso suggested that Caruana may have been one of the victims later found under the floor of a Connecticut garage, according to a Hartford Courant article from 1991.

Bourque said he’s unsure whether to subscribe to that theory, since no identifiable body was found and Caruana may have wanted law enforcement to believe that he died.

“I think there’s possibility he’s still alive,” said Bourque.

Snow Ball ‘will have something for everyone’


Leah Dearborn can be reached ldearborn@itemlive.com.

Peabody police captain graduates FBI academy

PEABODY — Peabody Police Captain John DeRosa Jr.  added to his professional accomplishments by graduating from the rigorous FBI National Academy Program in Quantico, Va.

“As with several other command staff within the department that have completed the program, the recent graduation of Captain DeRosa from the FBI Academy continues to display the quality and professionalism of our entire staff,” said Peabody Police Chief Thomas Griffin in a statement.

Building relationships with police in Peabody

The National Academy Program, at the FBI Academy, offers 11 weeks of advanced communication, leadership and fitness training for selected officers with proven records as professionals within their agencies. The officers have an average of 21 years of law enforcement experience, according to Peabody police.

DeRosa is currently assigned as the patrol commander within the department, responsible for overseeing all patrol functions and operations.