With Suffolk County District Attorney (DA) Dan Conley announcing earlier this year that he will not seek re-election after leading the office for more than 15 years, a crowded field has emerged to replace him.
Five candidates—Evandro Carvalho, Linda Champion, Greg Henning, Shannon McAuliffe, and Rachael Rollins—are facing-off for the Democratic nomination on Sept. 4. Greg Henning, who is viewed as right leaning, appears to be the favorite with the remaining candidates splitting the progressive vote. The Record recently contacted the five candidates to ask them their pitch for Chelsea voters.
“I’m running for DA because I have a vision for a safe and vibrant Suffolk County for everyone. Your next DA needs to be ready on day one to stem the tide of gun violence, combat the opioid epidemic, and build trust between law enforcement and the community. As an assistant district attorney for 10 years, I worked to deliver justice to victims of shootings and other violent crimes. As a teacher and mentor, I worked with young people to steer them away from crime in the first place. I hope to continue serving this community as your next DA.”
“I have always chosen the hard fight because it was the right fight. First, I never prosecuted one way like the other candidates and now claim, ‘Sorry, I’ll try being fairer now.’ Second, as a 12-year Suffolk County public defender and long-time Suffolk County resident, I have more experience in these very criminal courts than any opponent. Third, I led two sites at Roca, an innovative organization literally proven to reduce recidivism amongst Suffolk County’s court-involved young adults. Finally, I am the only candidate with a proven track record of fighting against injustice and doing different to get different results.”
“The primary responsibility of the DA is to keep our communities safe. I will do that – but I will do it differently. My Administration will give voice to victims and survivors of crime. We will work to solve the 1000+ unsolved homicides in Boston. We will seek to end wealth and race-based disparities by tackling the cash bail system. I understand that mental illness and substance abuse require treatment, not incarceration. I will work hand-in-hand with our diverse communities. With 20+ years of legal and leadership experience, I can implement real progressive criminal justice reform. Get involved at rollins4da.com.”
“I’m running because it’s time for a DA from our community. It’s time for a DA with the leadership and training to transform the office and keep our communities safe. It’s time to elect a DA with a proven record of fighting for the people.
I’m a former Assistant District Attorney and current State Representative from Dorchester, where I live with my wife and daughter. I went to Madison Park High School. I led the fight for criminal justice reform on Beacon Hill and as the DA for Suffolk County, I’ll make the office more accountable, equitable, and transparent.”
“This race is not about politics, it’s about the community. As someone who has lived in poverty, been homeless, experienced the trauma of domestic violence and substance abuse and endured gender and racial discrimination, I feel I can lead the district attorney’s office through the difficult challenges that are ahead of us. I will lead the DA’s office away from a scorecard mentality and toward reducing recidivism through community collaboration, with the overall goal of crime prevention.”
This week, Rachael Rollins received the endorsement of four Chelsea City Councillors, including Councilor Leo Robinson (At-Large), Councilor Roy Avellaneda (At-Large), Councilor Joe Perlatonda (District 3), Councilor Giovanni A. Recupero (District 6) and the Ward 4 – Chelsea Democratic Committee in her candidacy for District Attorney of Suffolk County.
This endorsement adds to a large list of civic leaders who have endorsed Rollins including, Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell, Boston City Councilor Kim Janey, State Senator William Brownsberger, among others.
Councilor Robinson said: “In order to make change, you have to be at the table. Rachael is the one we want at the table for us. She’s a fighter and is the voice that Chelsea needs in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. Join me in voting for Rachael Rollins on September 4.”
Councilor Avellaneda said: “As someone who has dedicated my adult life to civic engagement, I know we have a partner in Rachael Rollins. Having previously worked together with Rachael at MassDOT, I have witnessed firsthand her ability to administer a public agency. Her proposals for a common-sense, progressive policy to address issues of public safety and the opioid epidemic in Suffolk County is what we need. She is absolutely the right choice for Suffolk County DA.”
Councilor Perlatonda said: “I’m proud to join my colleagues on the Council and the over 60 individuals and organizations that have endorsed Rachael Rollins. There isn’t a more experienced leader in this important race.”
Councilor Recupero said: “All of our communities are safer when we have trust in our District Attorney. Rachael Rollins is someone you can trust. In order to understand the people, you need to be with the people and Rachael is with the people. I’m proud to endorse her and will be casting my vote for her on September 4 in the Primary Election for Suffolk County District Attorney.”
Rollins stated: “I am so proud to have the support of each councilor. Chelsea is lucky to have these wonderful public servants. I know the hard-working and dedicated people of Chelsea want a fighter and someone who will advocate to keep their community safe. If elected, I will hold true to this promise and will fight every day for the people of Chelsea and Suffolk County. Thank you again to the councilors as well as the Ward 4 Democratic Committee. I am grateful and inspired by your support.”
Election Day is Tuesday, September 4. To learn more about Rollins or to get involved, please visit: www.rollins4da.com.
Three Winthrop Town Councilors, including Councilor at-Large Michael Lucerto, Councilor Heather Engman, and Councilor Nick Loconte as well as Chelsea City Counselor Enio Lopez announced their endorsement of Shannon McAuliffe for Suffolk County District Attorney. They join a wide range of leaders in Suffolk County that have endorsed McAuliffe, including Sheriff Steve Tompkins and ten local unions. These unions include the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, Iron Workers Local 7, UNITE HERE Local 26, Building Wreckers Local 1421, Operating Engineers Local 4, Painters District Council 35, Plasterers and Cement Masons Local 534, Sheet Metal Workers Local 17, SEIU Local 888, and NAGE/SEIU Local 5000.
Winthrop Councilor at-Large, Michael Lucerto stated, “I am proudly endorsing Shannon McAuliffe for Suffolk County DA. Suffolk County needs Shannon’s vision for a data-driven, results oriented, common sense approach to justice reform. Shannon possesses the rare combination of experience and leadership, while also running for office for the right reason: to lead positive change in our communities.”
Echoing the sentiments of his counterparts in Winthrop, Chelsea City Councilor Enio Lopez says, “Shannon is the partner the Chelsea community needs in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office. She possesses a smart and strategic vision for our criminal justice system, and I am proud to support her.”
Commenting on the recent endorsements McAuliffe says, “ I am honored to be supported by leaders I respect so deeply. Working in partnership with every community in Suffolk County, from Dorchester to West Roxbury to Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop is crucial to ensuring that our justice system is equitable and fair. Having the support of community leaders demonstrates that my vision of a smart and strategic DA’s office, where addiction is not treated as a crime, and where your background does not dictate your fate in court, resonates across Suffolk County. It is time to change the way we look at our justice system, and I am excited to have these partners in that work.”
Evandro Carvalho believes his campaign for Suffolk County District Attorney is picking up momentum with just under three months to go before the Democratic primary is held on Sept. 4.
“It’s an honor to be running, to get to know the various communities in Suffolk County, and I believe we have a great shot to win this election,” said Carvalho, who has been a state representative in the Fifth Suffolk District (Dorchester, Roxbury) for four years.
Carvalho, 36, is a former assistant district attorney who worked for 2 ½ years in current Suffolk County DA Dan Conley’s office prosecuting gun cases in court.
Carvalho has received a number of endorsements from the Suffolk County delegation in the House of Representatives.
“My colleagues in the House know my heart, they know my passion to serve our community and they know the experiences that I’ve had, particularly as a former assistant district attorney who was one of the leaders in pushing for the criminal justice reform that we just enacted in April,” said Carvalho. “They understand that I’m the best person to go and implement those changes to improve the law.”
Carvalho feels his experience as an assistant DA and state representative and his record of service to the community set a strong foundation to his bid for the Suffolk County DA position.
“I think it’s time for someone like me, who knows the particular communities – whether it’s the youth, the people dealing with substance abuse issues or mental health issues – who has been fighting for those affected by these issues – to serve the people of Suffolk County as their next district attorney,” said Carvalho.
Originally from Cape Verde
Carvalho was raised on his grandparents’ farm in Cape Verde (islands), which is a nation off the west coast of Africa.
“I learned how to work hard and I also learned the value of education,” he said.
Carvalho came to the United States when he was 15 years old to join his mother (Ana), who was already residing in Dorchester. Fluent in Cape Verdean Creole and Portuguese, he learned how to speak English and enrolled at Madison Park High School in Boston. He became a top student academically, graduating in 1999.
He continued his education at UMass/Amherst, focusing on Legal Studies and Sociology with a concentration in Criminal Justice and a minor in African American Studies, graduating in 2004. He enrolled at Howard University Law School, receiving his law degree in 2008.
“One of the reasons I chose Howard was that I was inspired by Thurgood Marshall, who was an alumnus and the Supreme Court’s first African-American justice,” said Carvalho. “He made such an impact on American history. The legacy he provided for us at Howard was so admirable.”
He became a citizen of the United States in 2008 and his first vote was for Barack Obama for President.
“I remember how excited the people were that Obama was elected as president,” said Carvalho. “That was one of the important moments in my life, and it inspired me to serve – that I, too, could be someone that helps move our society forward and becomes a unifier like Obama was, a leader who brought America together.”
Serving as an assistant ADA
After working at the WilmerHale law firm in Washington, D.C., he returned to Boston in 2011 and became an assistant district attorney in Dan Conley’s office. He said he learned a lot in that position and always tried to help people improve their lives and get back on the right path.
“You see the same families cycling though the criminal justice system, dealing with substance abuse issues and other issues,” said Carvalho. “These are real people, not just another folder and another number. I understood their situation because I grew up in those neighborhoods. That inspired me to run for office, to become a state representative and change that system, to be able to do more to break the cycle of individuals going in and out of jail without a way out.”
A focus on criminal
justice in the House
As a state representative for the past four years, he has focused his efforts on improving the state’s criminal justice system.
“And together with the leadership of Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and the work of my colleagues and advocates throughout the state, we were able to accomplish the criminal justice reforms that nobody thought we could,” said Carvalho.
He is also committed to the continuing battle against the opiod crisis in Massachusetts.
“The opioid crisis is one of the most important issues right now,” said Carvalho. “The system, as a whole, has not dealt adequately with the individuals affected by this crisis. As the vice-chair of the public health committee and someone who has visited various neighborhoods, I see too many citizens dying from this epidemic. I intend to fight this through a public health lens and focus upon treatment for people. And instead of drug addicts going to jail, let’s get them in drug treatment facilities and focus on programs to help them get long-term treatment. We need to expand the drug court programs in Suffolk County. Make no mistake, the people that need to go to prison will go to prison, but let’s emphasize diversion programs as well.”
Hopes to bring accountability and transparency to the DA’s office
Carvalho said his plan as DA will be to bring “accountability, transparency, and diversity” to the DA’s office.
“I will make sure that the staff at the DA’s office receives adequate training and that we expand the capabilities of the victim witness advocates,” said Carvalho. “The reality is that the victims of crimes need a voice. We need to do more for them and build a relationship between the DA’s office and our communities ahead of time so they feel comfortable working with the office.”
Carvalho said throughout his life he has been able to “bring people together” for the good of the community.
“We need someone that’s going to come in and try to bring people together,” said Carvalho. “I want to start a sports tournament where different communities compete and the teams are made up of youths from different neighborhoods. I want to bring the next generation of youths together from the different parts of Suffolk County. The youth are our future and this will go a long way toward healing our communities and bringing us together. We are all Americans and we all want the same thing. My goal is to be a voice for all.”
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.
A Suffolk County Grand Jury indicted a 17-year-old juvenile on Monday in connection with the murder of Pablo Villeda during a mass shooting at a teen party on Washington Avenue March 6.
The youth was arraigned in Juvenile Court and was not made public due to his age.
He was arrested by Chelsea Police and State Police on Monday.
He is charged as an accessory after the fact to the murder of Pablo Villeda.
He is accused of taking multiple specific actions to assist Emmanuel Marrero in the aftermath of the March 6 incident on Washington Avenue that left Villeda dead and six other people injured from gunshot wounds.
We were so proud to take part in Suffolk County District Daniel F. Conley 7th Annual Basketball For Peace Tournament at the UMass Boston Clark Athletic Center.
DA Conley and his staff once again accomplished the mission of this wonderful event: to bring Boston’s young people together for a day of safe, healthy, team-oriented fun and give youth, parents, and community leaders an opportunity to meet the prosecutors, victim advocates, community outreach staff, and other professionals in the DA’s office.
From the moment the youths entered the gymnasium at UMass, they knew they were part of a truly special and well-organized event. The basketball games were played competitively and with sportsmanship and were officiated by professional referees. There was a real sense of camaraderie among the players and coaches on the teams who hailed from all parts of Suffolk County.
DA Conley and his staff made a great event even greater by inviting Leon Powe, the former Boston Celtics star, to serve as the guest speaker. Powe certainly enlightened the youths with his story of not taking his studies seriously enough as a youth to his becoming a serious-minded student and one of the best high school basketball players in the country and matriculating at the highly regarded University of California-Berkeley. Powe’s success at Cal led to the realization of his dream of playing in the NBA.
UMass Vice Chancellor Charlie Titus, one of the most prominent and respected names in all of college athletics, was a deserving recipient of a lifetime achievement award and you could tell how much this recognition by DA Conley meant to the legendary basketball coach and college administrator. The other honorees on this day were also grateful to DA Conley and his staff for being recognized as role models.
DA Conley oversees the busiest district attorney’s office in the Commonwealth. He is a credit to Stonehill College and Suffolk University Law School. For the district attorney to continue the great tradition that this basketball tournament has become speaks well of his noble declaration that “the most important part of my job is serving the people of Suffolk County.”
Keep up the great work, Suffolk County DA Daniel Conley.
Suffolk County prosecutors and State Police detectives are investigating the death of a Chelsea man at Whidden Memorial Hospital after a confrontation with Chelsea Police officers who responded to his residence for a report of an emotionally disturbed person.
The deceased has been identified as 56-year-old Dominic Graffeo. The cause and manner of his death will be determined by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
DA Daniel Conley’s office investigates all fatalities in Suffolk County, including those that involve police officers. The Suffolk County State Police Detective Unit has jurisdiction over death investigations in Chelsea, Revere, Winthrop, and State property within the City of Boston.
The preliminary investigation suggests that the maintenance supervisor of a Hawthorne Street rooming house called Chelsea Police shortly after 7 p.m. last Thursday to report that a resident had become erratic and was destroying property in his room. On arrival, officers found that he had barricaded himself into the room. A crisis negotiator was brought to the scene but was unable to convince the man to allow the officers entry. Additional officers climbed a ladder outside the building and could see the man shirtless and bleeding profusely from unknown injuries to his arms and legs. Officers contacted the Chelsea Fire Department to assist in opening the room’s barricaded door.
When they entered, the preliminary evidence suggests, the man became violent. An officer deployed his issued Taser on the man, but he continued to struggle with them until he was handcuffed.
The man became unresponsive after being handcuffed.
Emergency medical technicians who were present assessed his condition and became concerned that he might be suffering from an opiate overdose. They administered NARCAN and rushed him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 8:30 p.m.
Three Chelsea Police officers were also hospitalized for injuries that were not life-threatening.