A leader of MS-13’s Enfermos Criminales Salvatrucha clique was sentenced today in federal court in Boston.
Rafael Leoner Aguirre, a/k/a “Tremendo,” 22, a Salvadoran national, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to 19 years in prison and three years of supervised release, which he will begin serving after completion of the state prison sentence for which he is currently incarcerated. Leoner Aguirre will also be subject to deportation upon the completion of his federal sentence. In November 2017, Leoner Aguirre was convicted by a federal jury after a multi-week trial of conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO conspiracy.
Leoner Aguirre was the leader of MS-13’s Enfermos Criminales Salvatrucha clique. In 2013, Leoner Aguirre entered the United States illegally from El Salvador and initially moved to Michigan. From there, he began recruiting and planning MS-13 activities impacting Massachusetts. Among other things, Leoner Aguirre created recruitment videos for MS-13 and posted them on YouTube. This enabled younger gang members and associates to view these videos, including one witness who testified that he first saw these videos while at a local high school in Massachusetts.
In March 2014, Leoner Aguirre moved to the Chelsea area and immediately began activating, organizing, and supervising the Enfermos clique. As part of that activity, Leoner Aguirre encouraged members of the clique to attack and kill rival gang members, in addition to committing other racketeering acts such as robberies. Leoner Aguirre himself committed a number of racketeering acts, including an attempted murder in Chelsea where Leoner Aguirre struck a victim in the head with a machete. Leoner Aguirre also committed an attempted murder involving a shooting, which is the incident for which he is currently serving a four-to-five year state prison sentence. Leoner Aguirre committed both of these attempted murders in daylight on busy public streets in Chelsea.
The other members and associates of the Enfermos clique were Hector Ramires, a/k/a “Cuervo;” Bryan Galicia Barillas, a/k/a “Chucky;” David Lopez, a/k/a “Cilindro,” a/k/a “Villano;” Daniel Menjivar, a/k/a “Roca,” a/k/a “Sitiko;” Angel Pineda, a/k/a “Bravo;” and Kevin Ayala, a/k/a “Gallito.” Each of these defendants has pleaded guilty and will be subject to deportation upon the completion of their sentences.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Commissioner Thomas Turco of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections; Essex County Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger; Suffolk County Sheriff Steven W. Thompkins; Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley; Middlesex County District Attorney Marian T. Ryan; Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett; Boston Police Commissioner William Evans; Chelsea Police Chief Brian A. Kyes; Everett Police Chief Steven A. Mazzie; Lynn Police Chief Michael Mageary; Revere Police Chief James Guido; and Somerville Police Chief David Fallon made the announcement.
Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley this week welcomed new community partners to an ambitious diversion project, hoping to double the capacity of a program that allows juveniles charged with some serious offenses to get their lives back on track without incurring additional entries on their records.
Conley’s office launched the Juvenile Alternative Resolution pilot project in February 2017 with half a dozen community-based agencies that provide individualized services to Boston’s youth. In May, the partner agencies began accepting juveniles who faced delinquency charges in the Boston Juvenile Court and showed a moderate to high risk of re-offending. And yesterday, Conley welcomed a new batch of agencies to the team.
“Historically, juvenile diversion in Massachusetts has been geared toward first-time and low-level offenders, and it’s been limited in the services available to promote post-diversion success,” Conley said. “We envisioned something more ambitious – something that would re-direct the lives of young people charged with more serious offenses, even high-risk teens. We sought out partners who could offer individualized services for a wide range of needs. And our shared goal across agencies was to divert young adults outward, away from the criminal justice system, instead of upward and deeper into it.”
By March of this year, 45 juveniles had entered the JAR program and received supervision, support, and services through one or more community partner agencies. Of that number, 12 successfully completed the program and 31 are on track to do so.
Together, the 45 participants accounted for 100 offenses. Almost two-thirds of those offenses were classified as “crimes against the person,” including assault and battery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and unarmed robbery. Some were as young as 11, but about half were 16 or 17 years old. About 60% of the juveniles were from Dorchester or Roxbury, about two-thirds were male, and almost all were youth of color.
Participants are also showing significant drops in the risk and need factors they had when they entered, Conley said, reflecting a course correction in the trajectory of their lives. Because JAR-eligible delinquency complaints are placed on hold upon entry to the program and dismissed upon completion six to nine months later, the cases never appear on the participants’ juvenile records.
By expanding the available partners, Conley hopes to double the program’s capacity in the year to come – and continue to accept even juveniles who have prior system involvement and face moderate- to high-level charges. The goal, he said, was to juvenile involvement in the criminal justice system in Suffolk County – and the barriers to social, academic, and employment success that can follow.
“We were warned that there was a risk in taking this older, more experienced cohort into the program,” Conley said, “but what we’ve seen thus far convinces me that the rewards outweigh that risk.”
In addition to formal diversion through the JAR program, first-time and low-level juvenile offenses are informally diverted every day by Suffolk prosecutors. Throughout the year, almost 60% of the county’s delinquency complaints were diverted, with diversions outnumbering youthful offender indictments by more than 10 to one.
“That’s as it should be,” Conley said. “Some crimes are extremely serious and some offenders pose a danger to the community. But most kids and teens come to us with minimal records for minor offenses – better suited to the justice of an angry parent than the Juvenile Court. The JAR program is for youth in between, whose actions are more serious but don’t include gun violence, sexual assault, or serious bodily injury.”
The first group of community partner agencies included Action for Boston Community Development’s Changing Tracks Initiative, the Justice Resource Institute SMART Team, MissionSAFE, the Salvation Army’s Bridging the Gap program, the RFK Children’s Action Corps Detention Diversion Advocacy Program, and UMass Boston. Yesterday, Conley welcomed new partners to the fold – including a collection of youth service programs offered through Action for Boston Community Development, the Charlestown Coalition’s Turn It Around program, More Than Words, and YouthConnect.
“Every life is a journey, and as youth service providers you’re the map and compass these kids need,” Conley told the assembled group. “We’re changing those young lives today, but we’re changing outcomes tomorrow that will strengthen families and communities for years to come. We’re making Boston a safer, fairer place. And that’s a legacy we can all be very proud of.”
Sen. Sal DiDomenico will once again be hosting the annual DiDomenico Foundation St. Patrick’s Day Celebration on Friday, March 9 beginning at 6:30 p.m., at the Bunker Hill Knights of Columbus in Charlestown. This event has become the official kick-off to the St. Patrick’s Day season. In addition to a traditional Irish dinner, the night will include Irish music, step dancers, comedy by Tony V, bag pipers, videos by elected officials and the annual presentation of the Golden Shamrock Award to a community leader. Over 75 federal, state, and local elected officials are also expected to attend and several of them will try their favorite St. Patrick’s Day jokes. Political figures joining the festivities include Gov. Charlie Baker, Congressman Mike Capuano, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Attorney General Maura Healey, Treasurer Deb Goldberg, Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria, Cambridge Mayor Marc McGovern, Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley, Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan, Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, and many more! There will also be a special surprise guest as well. This has quickly become one of the most popular St. Patrick’s Day traditions in the Greater Boston community.
For more tickets and more information on the event, please call (617) 387-3327. Proceeds will go to The DiDomenico Foundation, which funds educational scholarships for high school students, as well as a large toy drive during the holiday season for domestic violence and homeless shelters throughout the Greater Boston area.
On what was his 16th anniversary in the office of District Attorney, Dan Conley surprised many by announcing he would not run for the office again.
Simply put, the former prosecutor turned City Councilor turned DA, said he believed it was time to let others have a chance to run the county-wide office – an office that covers Boston, Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop.
“I love the job, the office, its staff, and the people and communities we serve,” said Conley in a statement. “But I have long believed that those of us fortunate enough to lead as elected officials must also be willing to give others the same opportunity. For this reason, I will not be seeking re-election this fall.”
Conley entered office on Feb. 20, 2002.
Chelsea Chief Brian Kyes – who worked closely with Conley and his office on hundreds of cases – said
“The news of my good friend Dan Conley not seeking re-election as the District Attorney of Suffolk County certainly comes as a surprise,” said the Chief. “I have been extremely fortunate to have worked directly with Dan and collaborate with him on a multiple of public safety initiatives and programs during the past 11 years as the Police Chief in Chelsea. His institutional knowledge, wisdom and extraordinary guidance as the leader of the prestigious office on Bulfinch Place has had an incredible impact across the entire region of Suffolk County that will last for decades. While I wholeheartedly respect Dan’s decision, which no doubt was a difficult one for him and his family, I know that he continues to have plenty to offer to the criminal justice system here in the Commonwealth moving forward.”
The news also set off a firestorm of candidates debating or announcing a run.
Already, by Wednesday morning, there were some candidates who had announced their possible intentions to run – most notably City Councilor at-Large Michael Flaherty. The councilor was a former assistant prosecutor.
“After today’s announcement by DA Conley, I have been asked if I would be interested in running for Suffolk County District Attorney to succeed him,” said Flaherty in a statement. “To that I say that I have always been interested in being the Suffolk County District Attorney. But this day is about acknowledging the outstanding job Dan Conley has done for the residents of Suffolk County. I will consult with my family about my own plans, but today we all owe our gratitude and thanks to Dan Conley…”
Long-time defense attorney Shannon McAuliffe, who has roots in Chelsea’s Roca program, had already been planning to run and will continue those plans.
Meanwhile, many have postulated about potential candidates around the area, mostly without any confirmation.
City Corporate Counsel Gene O’Flaherty, a Charlestown resident, has been mentioned in more than a few circles. With support in his former home of Chelsea –where he was the state representative for years – and also in Boston City Hall, where he now works, he could be a potential candidate with backing from key county personalities.
Within Conley’s office, long-time accomplished prosecutor Ed Zabin cannot be overlooked as a potential candidate for the position. His experience and expertise in prosecuting the most difficult cases in the county has no comparison.
Looking at some of the best attorneys in the area, one cannot overlook superstar defense attorney Rosemary Scapicchio, who has argued some of the best cases in the county for her clients with great success – and remarkable toughness.
One cannot discount former Councilor and mayoral candidate John Connolly, who is a close friend to Conley and recently showed up last year during Mayor Martin Walsh’s campaign after years of silence. Could he be looking for the position?
Meanwhile, in East Boston, former Boston City Councilor Mike Ross has been talked about as someone who would make sense in the post.
Any candidate, though, will have big shoes to replace, as Conley has been a very successful DA for many years.
In a letter to his staff, he outlined the scores of changes and innovations that have come to the DA’s office through his tenure – whether with the advent of DNA evidence or the hiring of skilled prosecutors.
In his statement, he also thanked law enforcement throughout the county.
“At a time when law enforcement has come under intense scrutiny across the country I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the men and women of law enforcement across Suffolk County for their courage, their determination to do a difficult job well, and the standard they set for other agencies,” he said
He also said that the people of Suffolk County have been a blessing to him.
“From victims and survivors to families and loved ones, they have shown a depth of dignity and grace amid crisis and grief that has been nothing short of inspirational,” he said. “I am so grateful to them for their kindness, their wisdom, and their faith.”
Kyes added, “Leaders like Dan come along once in a generation. I consider myself a better public safety servant from being given the opportunity to have known and worked with him and have benefited from his leadership. I wish him nothing but the best as he begins a challenging new chapter.”
The election for district attorney won’t occur until the fall, but nomination papers for the seat and the Democratic primary in September will become available shortly.
Members of the new Chelsea Hill Community neighbor group gather on the stairs near Lafayette Avenue earlier this fall. The group formed after a neighbor day in Malone Park last September, and their momentum continues to build.
What started as a summer get-together for neighbors near the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home neighborhood has turned into an effort that has logged many miles this fall within their community.
Now dubbing themselves the Chelsea Hill Community, the group has grown significantly and engages in safety walks and meetings on a monthly basis.
On the first Wednesday and third Thursday of every month at 6 p.m., the group walks the streets of the neighborhood. On the fourth Thursday, they hold community meetings at 6 p.m. in the First Congregational Church on County Road.
It’s something that has been as much a surprise to the founders as it is to newcomers and those who have been in the neighborhood for years.
Monica Elias-Orellana, a life-long Chelsea resident, said the idea was born out of the Community Enhancement Team (CET) efforts, which focuses neighborhood betterment projects citywide.
Elias-Orellana is part of that effort, and she and Councillors Yamir Rodriguez, Luis Tejada Yahya Noor and Pastor Ellen Rohan Ball had scheduled a clean up of Malone Park.
Then on Sept. 2 this year, they decided to hold a ‘Meet Your Neighbor’ day as a follow up, enlisting Councillor Roy Avellaneda, Henry Wilson, City Manager Tom Ambrosino and Councillor Damali Vidot to the effort.
“After that day, we decided that we should try to keep the momentum going,” said Elias-Orellana. “We’re an independent residential group and we are now called the Chelsea Hill Community. We do similar things to the existing Sector Groups, but we also do events as a neighborhood too.”
The walks have been very productive and the group has added a police officer to accompany them. They are now doing winter walks and plan to have hot chocolate and cookies to accompany the effort.
“We have a lot of momentum right now, and I think this is something we can keep going for a long time,” said Rodriguez. “I think we can make this group strong enough to join the other groups in Sector 4 or in Admiral’s Hill.”
Rohan Ball said the meetings have brought many of her members of the First Congregational Church on County Road a lot of comfort.
“At one of the meetings, two sisters who are members of the church and had to leave Chelsea after the Great Fire of 1972, were reminiscing,” she said. “It really brought them back. I felt this instant happiness that I was thrilled to see. They enchanted us with stories of the fire and the old neighborhood. It was really great to have the newer neighbors come back with the old neighbors and learn from one another.”
The group is also trying to address an early concern of the elderly in the neighborhood, that being the task of shoveling snow. Working with the Boys & Girls Club, they are hoping to organize volunteers from the Club who will shovel the walks for elderly folks during snow storms.
Elias-Orellana said what is important about their group now is that they have recruited a strong base of neighbors who are passionate. That, she said, will endure even the coldest winter walks.
“We’re a small group now, but it doesn’t matter if we have 30 or 50 people, we are a group of passionate people who are looking to be impactful where we live,” she said.
The next Chelsea Hill Community Walk will be on Dec. 21 at 6 p.m. Check their Facebook page for the latest location.
A member of MS-13’s Enfermos Criminales Salvatrucha (ECS) clique in Chelsea, pleaded guilty on Sept. 28 in federal court in Boston to RICO conspiracy involving the attempted murder of a rival gang member.
Domingo Tizol, a/k/a “Chapin,” 23, a Guatemalan national who resided in Chelsea, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO conspiracy, and admitted responsibility for the attempted murder of a rival 18th Street gang member in Chelsea in May 2015. U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV scheduled sentencing for Jan. 4, 2018. Tizol is the 17th defendant to plead guilty in this case.
On May 26, 2015, Tizol and, allegedly, Bryan Galicia-Barillas, a/k/a “Chucky,” another MS-13 member, repeatedly stabbed an 18th Street gang member on Bellingham Street in Chelsea. The victim survived the attack.
After a three-year investigation, Tizol was one of 61 defendants named in a January 2016 superseding indictment targeting the criminal activities of alleged leaders, members, and associates of MS-13 in Massachusetts. According to court documents, MS-13 was identified as a violent transnational criminal organization whose branches or “cliques” operate throughout the United States, including in Massachusetts. MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence to maintain membership and discipline within the group. Specifically, MS-13 members are required to attack and murder gang rivals whenever possible.
The RICO conspiracy charge provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. According to the terms of the plea agreement, the parties will recommend that Tizol be sentenced to 10 years in prison. Tizol will also be subject to deportation upon the completion of his sentence. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Matthew Etre, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Colonel Richard D. McKeon, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Commissioner Thomas Turco of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections; Essex County Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger; Suffolk County Sheriff Steven W. Thompkins; Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley; Middlesex County District Attorney Marian T. Ryan; Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett; Boston Police Commissioner William Evans; Chelsea Police Chief Brian A. Kyes; Everett Police Chief Steven A. Mazzie; Lynn Police Chief Michael Mageary; Revere Police Chief Joseph Cafarelli; and Somerville Police Chief David Fallon made the announcement.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations and the remaining defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Chelsea is one of eight winners of the 2017 RWJF Culture of Health Prize awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Prize honors communities for their unwavering efforts to ensure all residents have the opportunity to live healthier lives.
Chelsea is being nationally recognized for pursuing innovative ideas and bringing partners together to rally around a shared vision of health. Chosen from more than 200 applicant communities across the country, Chelsea’s award winning efforts include: reducing diesel emissions, collaborating to open up the city’s waterfront, providing services to the city’s most vulnerable, ensuring Chelsea is a welcoming community for all, tackling public health issues such as substance use and trauma, and engaging and empowering the city’s youth in environmental and food justice projects.
“So many residents, city leaders, businesses and community partners have come together to make Chelsea a healthier, more just community in which to live,” says Roseann Bongiovanni, Executive Director of GreenRoots and lifelong resident. “I am so grateful to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for recognizing those efforts with the prestigious Culture of Health Award. It exemplifies a whole community coming together for the betterment of our people, our environment, our future.”
“For the past five years, RWJF Culture of Health Prize communities have inspired hope across the country. We welcome these new eight Prize communities who are forging partnerships to improve health for their residents,” said Richard Besser, MD, RWJF president and CEO. “There are now 35 prize-winning communities across the country that are thinking big, building on their strengths, and engaging residents as equal partners to tackle the problems that they see.”
“Being nationally recognized for this work, despite the many health challenges this community has faced and that still exist, is a reflection of the community’s resilience and commitment to one another,” said Leslie Aldrich, Associate Director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Community Health Improvement. “The friendships and partnerships that have been forged in the effort to make Chelsea a healthier place to live are true and lasting and what make Chelsea such a unique community.”
Chelsea will receive a $25,000 cash prize, join a network of Prize-winning communities and have their inspiring accomplishments shared throughout the nation. The other seven winning communities are: Algoma, Wisconsin; Allen County, Kansas; Garrett County, Maryland; Richmond, Virginia; San Pablo, California, Seneca Nation of Indians in western New York, and Vicksburg, Mississippi.
The state of Massachusetts now has the greatest number of Prize winning communities. Past winners include: Cambridge (2013), Fall River (2013), Everett (2015), Lawrence (2015).
To become an RWJF Culture of Health Prize winner, Chelsea had to demonstrate how it excelled in the following six criteria:
Defining health in the broadest possible terms.
Committing to sustainable systems changes and policy-oriented long-term solutions.
Cultivating a shared and deeply-held belief in the importance of equal opportunity for health
Harnessing the collective power of leaders, partners, and community members.
Securing and making the most of available resources.
Measuring and sharing progress and results.
“I am so very proud of the City and all of its non-profit partners,” says Tom Ambrosino, Chelsea’s City Manager. “This prestigious award from Robert Wood Johnson serves to confirm the incredible, collaborative work that occurs daily in this community to improve the health and well-being of its residents.”
Chelsea will join this year’s other Prize winning communities at the Culture of Health Prize Celebration and Learning Event at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation headquarters in Princeton, New Jersey on October 11-12.
Learn more about Chelsea’s work, as well as this year’s other Prize winners through a collection videos, photos, and more at www.rwjf.org/Prize.
Chelsea and State Police Detectives assigned to the Suffolk County District Attorneys Office are investigating a shooting that occurred in front of 119 Congress Ave. Tuesday evening.
Chelsea officers responded to a call for shots fired in front of that address at 7:45 p.m. Upon arrival officers observed two gunshot victims in the street. EMS transported both a male and female victim to Massachusetts General Hospital for treatment. Both injures were considered serious.
The names of both are not being released at this time.
The investigation is ongoing. Chelsea Police are asking for anyone with information on this incident to call Chelsea Police at 617-466-4800.
Chelsea Police remind the community they can report crimes or suspicious activity anonymously in various formats. Citizens can call the 24 hr “tips” line at 617-466-4880, email reports directly from the departments website at www.chelseapolice.com or download for free the MYPD App that is compatible with both Android and Apple smart phones. All three ways are monitored and totally anonymous.
The Richard I. Clayman Memorial Scholarship Fund has been established at Suffolk University Law School.
The purpose of the fund is to endow a perpetual Scholarship in Richard’s name which will assist students in their legal education from places like Chelsea, where Richard, this kid from Chelsea as he would say, spent his entire professional life. Training new lawyers to serve the needs of Chelsea’s most at risk, and those in communities like Chelsea, is an aspiration that Richard would applaud because that is how he lived.
Richard I. Clayman spent his life helping people. Whether it was in his youth as a Park Counselor, as a Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney, on the Chelsea School Committee, the Chelsea Board of Alderman, or as a lawyer in the City of Chelsea, Richard never hesitated to reach out his hand to lift people up. Richard learned growing up in Chelsea how much it meant to have a mentor and a friend. He benefited from the community that raised him and then dedicated his life to giving back to that community.
Richard helped people in need, regardless of their ability to pay. He helped those suffering from addiction, mental health issues and those just trying to live day to day. His legal education at Suffolk University Law School gave him greater tools to accomplish the goal of helping those who needed help, raising the hopes of people in despair, and protecting people without the ability to protect themselves.
A moving video tribute to Richard can be found at: https://tinyurl.com/RememberingRichieClayman
The Richard I. Clayman Memorial Scholarship Fund has been established to award scholarships to deserving Suffolk Law Students who share the same passion and desire as Richard to help and nourish the people in the greater Chelsea area. The Founders of the Fund are Kate Clayman, Joshua Huggard, Steven G. Clayman, Nancy Clayman, Amy L. Nechtem, John L. Dodge, Amanda Clayman, Thomas O. Levenberg, Alyse Clayman and Drew Bulfer.
Donations may be sent to: Richard I. Clayman Memorial Scholarship Fund, Suffolk University Law School, Office of Advancement, Attention: Jeffrey P. Foss, 73 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02108, or online at: http://www.suffolk.edu/law/alumni/52314.php