Chelsea Prosecutor Honored at Annual Award Ceremony

Chelsea Prosecutor Honored at Annual Award Ceremony

A member of the prosecution team that handles cases in Chelsea and Revere was honored with a prestigious award named after a former school teacher, Suffolk prosecutor, and Boston City Council member, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.

Assistant District Attorney Priscilla Guerrero received the Brian J. Honan Award for Excellence in the Courtroom and Commitment to the Communities We Serve at a ceremony held last month at Suffolk University. The award is presented annually to a lawyer who pursues a criminal justice mission that balances outstanding legal work with community advocacy above and beyond the call of duty. Honan, who died suddenly in 2002, worked alongside Conley as an assistant district attorney in the 1990s before taking a seat representing Allston/Brighton on the Boston City Council.

“Priscilla is a mentor to high school and college students and a resource for her colleagues,” Conley said. “But perhaps most important of all, she shows a high-functioning moral and ethical compass that makes us all very proud.”

Guerrero started in the DA’s office as an intern before being hired in 2011 as a member of the Community Relations staff, where she helped organize Conley’s annual Soccer and Basketball for Peace tournaments, recruited volunteers for the Bowdoin/Geneva neighborhood clean-up project, and received special recognition from the Boston City Council for her efforts. She co-founded the weekly Reading Day event at the Joseph Lee K-8 School in Dorchester, which brings prosecutors, police officers, and other criminal justice officials into the classroom to read to young children – a program that got a widely-circulated mention on Twitter from the children’s author Cynthia Levinson earlier this year.

When Guerrero made up her mind to attend Suffolk Law School, she did it while working full-time and still managed to graduate a semester early.  Taking a new role in the office as a paralegal, she helped brief and moot a series of cases heading to the Massachusetts Appeals Court, and as an Assistant DA she argued them – including a serious domestic violence stabbing conviction that was ultimately affirmed by the court.

Though currently assigned as a line prosecutor in Chelsea District Court, Guerrero continues her role as an active ambassador for the DA’s office at the annual Martin Luther King Day Breakfast, Taste of Chelsea, and Basketball and Soccer events. In 2016, when she was named one of El Mundo Boston’s Latino 30 Under 30, she used her platform to promote the prosecutor’s job as an important and satisfying one that benefits the entire community. And on the day she received the Honan award, she organized a pot-luck breakfast celebration at the Lee School for the school year’s final Reading Day program.

“Priscilla has spent seven years building bridges with the people our office serves,” Conley said. “She’s focused especially on the kids and teens who count on us for safe neighborhoods. She’s a leader in and out of the courtroom and I’m very proud of everything she’s accomplished as a prosecutor and community advocate.”

Read More

Oath of Office

Oath of Office

The Honorable Stacey Fortes, Robert A. Brennan, and Paul C. Dawley applaud the Honorable Matthew J. Machera after the Oath Of Office was administered. Machera was sworn in on Weds., June 27, as the new First Justice of the Chelsea District Court. Machera had been the acting First Justice, and it became official on June 27 at a ceremony that packed Courtroom 1 at Chelsea Court.

Read More

CBC Hosts Candidates Forum for District Attorney, U.S. Congress

CBC Hosts Candidates Forum for District Attorney, U.S. Congress

The Chelsea Black Community (CBC), under the leadership of President Joan Cromwell, hosted a Candidates Forum on June 27 at the Chelsea Senior Center.

Four of the five candidates for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s position in the Sept. 4 Democratic Primary– Linda Champion, Rachael Rollins, Shannon McAuliffe, and Evandro Carvalho – participated in the forum. Cromwell announced that DA candidate Greg Henning was invited to the forum, but was unable to attend due to another commitment.

Boston City Councilor-at-Large Ayanna Pressley, candidate for U.S. Congress, took part in the CBC’s Congressional Candidates Forum. Congressman Michael Capuano was unable to attend because Congress was in session in Washington, D.C.

The four DA candidates presented their qualifications for the position and stated how they would run the DA’s office if they were elected. There were some spirited remarks by the candidates while discussing issues such as immigration, sanctuary cities, criminal justice reform, the homeless, diversion programs, the opioid crisis, and the safety of residents in Suffolk County.

Rollins delivered the most eye-opening comments of the forum when she spoke about the lack of diversity in positions of leadership at ROCA, the Chelsea-based agency led by CEO Molly Baldwin. Rollins’ comments came after McAuliffe, a former director at Roca, had rebutted Rollins’ earlier statement that she [Rollins] had management experience at Massport, MassDOT, and the MBTA, which, Rollins noted, are much larger organizations than ROCA.

McAuliffe said, “We heard a little bit about Roca leading 17 people and I want to be really clear about this: The staff of Roca is 17 people, but it is an agency with over 200 young men who are the highest risk in the county, and helping to give them what they need to actually turn away from crime. I will let everybody leave their own opinions to themselves about the MBTA and Massport and what we’ve actually seen about those companies, but what I can say about Roca is that it is effective, it’s data-driven, it’s innovative, and it’s about leading radical change.”

Rollins responded vigorously to McAuliffe, saying, “I was fortunate enough after Shannon left Roca, to be offered the job of director of Roca, and what was disappointing to me is that I would have been the first person of color in the 30-year history of Roca to ever have that position. Roca has inserted itself into communities of color and its management is historically not people of color. And I am very, very tired, very candidly, of communities of color being led by people that don’t look like us, and we are not asked to sit at the table. So I am very proud of my history of hiring people of color, and women, at the MBTA, Massport, and MassDOT, and I hope ROCA works really hard to make sure that they get some more diversity in their leadership.”

Pressley, who received the most enthusiastic ovation of the night upon her introduction, said, “I am running for Seventh Congressional District because this is the most diverse district, and yet it is the most unequal. And if you need any evidence of that, you get on the No. 111 bus and just try to get to work on time, or you can get on the No. 1 bus in Harvard Square in Cambridge and ride it all the way to Dudley Square in Roxbury. And what you will see visually is a stark contrast of life experiences, median household income, and life expectancy drop by decades.

“My opponent has been a reliable vote – given these times, that is no longer good enough,” Pressley continued. “This district deserves and these times demand activist leadership, leaders that will vote the right way, that will lead, that will legislate, that will be bold – and I want to underscore the intention in legislating: to uplift families, to advance communities, and to reduce harm.”

Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson, who represented Capuano at the forum, delivered a speech highlighting Capuano’s many accomplishments in office as Chelsea’s congressman.

Sharon Caulfield, associate dean of Bunker Hill Community College, did a masterful job as the moderator of the forum. Caulfield, whose husband, Michael, and daughter, Emily, looked on proudly in the audience, kept the program moving smoothly, was professional and courteous in her manner, and was impartial in her actions.

Joan Cromwell thanked Chelsea Community Cable Television and its executive director, Duke Bradley, for televising the forum and the Chelsea Record for its publicizing and coverage of the forum.

Cromwell said in concluding her remarks, “This [forum] was good.”

And all who participated in and attended the forum,  agreed.

Read More

Bongiovanni of GreenRoots Named Chelsea Unsung Heroine

Bongiovanni of GreenRoots Named Chelsea Unsung Heroine

Sen. Sal DiDomenico recently joined with Reps. Daniel Ryan and RoseLee Vincent to congratulate Roseann Bongiovanni on being recognized as an Unsung Heroine by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women (MCSW).

Each year the MCSW recognizes women across the Commonwealth who make outstanding, yet perhaps unnoted, contributions to their communities.

Sen. DiDomenico and Representative Ryan nominated Bongiovanni, the executive director of the Chelsea-based environmental justice organization GreenRoots, for her efforts over the past 21 years to improve environmental conditions and quality of life in Chelsea.

On June 20 Bongiovanni was honored at the MCSW’s Unsung Heroines Celebration at the State House.

“I was happy to join Rep. Ryan and present Roseann with our citations.” said Senator DiDomenico. “This is a well-deserved honor for Roseann, who has made it her life’s work to assist individuals and families that need our help the most, and for her tireless efforts on environmental justice issues in our community.”

The Board, staff and members of GreenRoots were happy to hear the leader of their organization was getting credit for her years of work.

“On behalf of the Board, staff and members of GreenRoots, we would like to recognize Rosie for being recognized by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women as an Unsung Heroine of 2018,” read a statement from the organization. “Rosie was chosen as the Unsung Heroine for our District. We are lucky to have her as a model of leadership and unwavering commitment to our community.”

Read More

Chelsea Man Pleads Guilty to Role in Methamphetamine Trafficking Ring

Chelsea Man Pleads Guilty to Role in Methamphetamine Trafficking Ring

A Chelsea man pleaded guilty June 19 at federal court in Boston to his role in a large-scale methamphetamine trafficking and money laundering ring operating between Massachusetts and California.

Steven Beadles, 60, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and one count of possession of 50 grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. U.S. Senior District Court Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. scheduled sentencing for Sept. 24, 2018.

Beadles was one of 11 men from Massachusetts and California who were indicted in 2016 after a two-year investigation into methamphetamine trafficking. The indictment alleges that beginning in at least 2013, the defendants participated in a conspiracy to transport sizeable quantities of methamphetamine from San Diego, to Massachusetts, where it was distributed in the Greater Boston area. Proceeds from the sale of that methamphetamine were then transported and/or transferred back to California and laundered in various ways.

In his plea agreement, Beadles admitted that agents seized approximately 434 grams of methamphetamine that had been shipped from California to the house where Beadles was living in January 2016, that he knew that the package contained methamphetamine, and that he intended to distribute some of the drugs.

Each charge provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison, five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of up to $10 million. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Read More

Gerrish Street Gang Member Sentenced on Racketeering and Drug Trafficking

Gerrish Street Gang Member Sentenced on Racketeering and Drug Trafficking

An East Side Money Gang (ES$G) member was sentenced last week in federal court in Boston on racketeering and drug trafficking charges.

Henry Del Rio, a/k/a “Junior,” a/k/a “JR,” 21, of Chelsea, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns to five years in prison and four years of supervised release. In February 2018, Del Rio pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, commonly known as RICO, one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and cocaine base, one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin, and one count of possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number.

Del Rio is a self-admitted member of the ES$G, a Chelsea-based street gang, which uses violence to further its criminal activities and enforce its internal rules. Specifically, ES$G uses violence to protect its members/associates, target rival gang members/associates and intimidate potential witnesses. The ES$G is also involved in drug trafficking, including cocaine, cocaine base (a/k/a crack) and heroin in Chelsea and surrounding communities.

Del Rio conspired with other gang members and associates to distribute heroin and other drugs in Chelsea. Additionally, Del Rio sold a confidential informant a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun with an obliterated serial number and a 30-round, high-capacity magazine from Del Rio’s residence on Gerrish Street in Chelsea.   Del Rio is one of 53 defendants indicted in June 2016 on federal firearms and drug charges following an investigation into a network of street gangs that had created alliances to traffic weapons and drugs throughout Massachusetts and to generate violence against rival gang members. According to court documents, the defendants, who are leaders, members, and associates of the 18th Street Gang, East Side Money Gang and the Boylston Street Gang, were responsible for fueling a gun and drug pipeline across a number of cities and towns in eastern Massachusetts.

Read More

MS-13 Member Admits Guilt in Murder of 16-Year-Old Boy

MS-13 Member Admits Guilt in Murder of 16-Year-Old Boy

An MS-13 member pleaded guilty recently in federal court in Boston to racketeering conspiracy involving the murder of a 16-year-old boy in East Boston.

The victim was identified as Christofer Perez de la Cruz.

Jairo Perez, a/k/a “Seco,” 27, a Salvadoran national, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO or racketeering conspiracy. Perez admitted that his racketeering activity involved the Jan. 10, 2016, murder of a 16-year-old boy in East Boston.

Under the terms of the proposed plea agreement, Perez will be sentenced to 35 years in prison.  At today’s hearing, the Court accepted the defendant’s guilty plea but deferred acceptance of the plea agreement until the sentencing hearing.  Perez will be subject to deportation proceedings upon completion of his sentence.  U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV scheduled sentencing for Sept. 11, 2018.

The investigation revealed that Perez was a member of MS-13’s Trece Loco Salvatrucha (TLS) clique. Evidence showed that on Jan. 10, 2016, Perez and other MS-13 members murdered a 16-year-old boy whom they believed to be a member of the rival 18th Street gang. The victim was stabbed and shot multiple times.  A few days after the murder, Perez was caught on tape admitting to stabbing the victim multiple times, and he was arrested soon thereafter. Perez was also recorded burying the knives used to murder the victim in a park on Deer Island in Winthrop.

After a multi-year investigation, Perez was one of dozens of alleged leaders, members, and associates of MS-13 named in a superseding indictment unsealed in January 2016 that targeted MS-13’s criminal activities in Massachusetts. Perez is the 48th defendant to be convicted as part of that ongoing prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts.  To date, all eight defendants who have gone to trial have been convicted, and 40 other defendants have pleaded guilty.

Read More

MS-13 Leader Pleads Guilty to RICO Conspiracy, Attempted Murder

MS-13 Leader Pleads Guilty to RICO Conspiracy, Attempted Murder

An MS-13 member pleaded guilty recently in federal court in Boston to racketeering conspiracy.

Jose Vasquez, a/k/a “Little Crazy,” 24, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO or racketeering conspiracy. U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV scheduled sentencing for Aug. 30, 2018.

Vasquez was a member and local leader of the Trece Locos Salvatrucha or TLS clique of MS-13. Vasquez personally participated in racketeering activity on behalf of MS-13. Among other things, on Sept. 8, 2014, Vasquez and another MS-13 member, Angel Pineda a/k/a “Bravo,” were involved in an attempted murder of a suspected gang rival in which the victim was stabbed multiple times.

Separately, Vasquez assisted other MS-13 members in burying evidence relating to a murder in East Boston in January 2016.  On Jan. 10, 2016, Edwin Diaz, a/k/a “Demente,” Rigoberto Mejia, a/k/a “Ninja,” and other MS-13 members murdered a 16-year-old boy who MS-13 members believed to belong to the rival 18th Street gang. The victim was shot and stabbed multiple times. A few days after the murder, Vasquez—who did not personally commit the murder—helped another MS-13 member hide evidence related to the murder.  Specifically, Vasquez helped bury the knife and machete used in the murder, as well as bloody clothes worn by those who committed the crime. This evidence was later recovered by law enforcement.

After a multi-year investigation, Vasquez was one of dozens of alleged leaders, members, and associates of MS-13 named in a superseding indictment unsealed in January 2016 that targeted MS-13’s criminal activities in Massachusetts. Vasquez is the 46th defendant to be convicted as part of that ongoing prosecution.

Pineda previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 93 months in prison. Diaz and Mejia previously pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy involving murder and are awaiting sentencing.

At today’s hearing, the Court accepted Vasquez’s guilty plea but deferred acceptance of the proposed plea agreement until the sentencing hearing. Under the terms of the proposed plea agreement, Vasquez will be sentenced to between 15 and 18 years in prison.

Read More

Lynn Man Arrested in Assault of Chelsea Waitress

Lynn Man Arrested in Assault of Chelsea Waitress

Chief Brian Kyes announced late last week the arrest in Maryland of Gerardo Reyes Menjivar, 36, of Lynn, who was wanted in connection with the stabbing of a waitress at a Chelsea Restaurant on Monday night, May 7.

Menjivar was placed in custody in Beltsville, MD, May 10 by the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force.

Chelsea Police Detectives placed a Nationwide BOLO for Menjivar and the vehicle he was operating on Tuesday, May 8. Investigators worked tirelessly in their efforts to track Menjivar’s movements over 24 hours, and those efforts led to the arrest.

Chief Kyes praised his officers, the community members who came forward with information and a host of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies that coordinated together to bring Menjivar into custody.

“Today after a successful nationwide law enforcement effort we placed a violent individual into custody and our community is safer,” he said. “I thank the many agencies involved that worked in unison with our department to apprehend Menjivar.”

Menjivar will be held in Maryland as a fugitive from justice as the Suffolk Court District Attorney’s Office work on his rendition back to Massachusetts.

Menjivar will face multiple charges including Assault to Murder.

The following agencies were instrumental in the investigation:  The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, the Massachusetts State Police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section, Boston PD Detectives, Denver CO PD, the Bennet CO Sheriff’s Office, NYPD, US Marshals Service, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, and  the regional HIDA (High Intensity Drug Apprehension) Taskforce.

Read More

Former TND Director Ann Houston to Depart, become CEO of Merged Non-Profit

Former TND Director Ann Houston to Depart, become CEO of Merged Non-Profit

The Neighborhood Developers (TND) announced this week in a release ahead of its 40th Anniversary celebration that long-time Executive Director Ann Houston will be departing to become the new CEO of a new, merged community development corporation.

“TND will honor outgoing Executive Director Ann Houston as she takes on the new role of CEO of Opportunity Communities, where she will continue to provide leadership and vision to TND through this exciting new partnership,” read the announcement.

Houston was not immediately available for comment on the move.

TND declined to comment on the matter as well this week.

The announcement indicated Houston would be the new CEO of Opportunity Communities.

That new collaboration is with Roxbury’s Nuestra Communidad Community Development Corporation (CDC), a partnership between that organization and TND that launched in April.

“In April 2018, we launched a company for back office operations known as Opportunity Communities (OppCo) with a sister organization, The Neighbor Developers (TND), based in Chelsea,” read the website for the new partnership. “This is our newest partnership, designed to achieve better results for the Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan neighborhoods we serve. There is no change to Nuestra’s board, staff, leadership, mission, office, programs, projects, agreements, relationships and commitments to neighbors and local stakeholders.

“This new company allows Nuestra and TND to combine our back office operations and staff,” it continued. “By centralizing our accounting, purchasing, data collection, HR, IT and other management functions, Nuestra can most efficiently deliver high-quality, effective services and programs for Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan.”

Houston has been the face of TND since it planted its flag in the Box District many years ago and built out several blocks of what used to be derelict industrial properties. Using a formula of creating civic awareness in a mixed-income development of subsidized and market-rate housing, TND created a successful model in the Box District.

Since that time, they have developed other properties in Chelsea, including the old American Legion Post that houses homeless veterans in supportive housing. They are currently developing the old French Club into affordable housing.

In year’s past, TND moved into Revere to develop affordable and senior housing there. It has just expanded to Everett, where a proposal is on the table for a large senior housing development there on the former site of St. Therese’s Church campus.

Read More