Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday Globe Special: Off Probation

"Man in girl’s death missed probation meetings; No record probation officer reported violations" by Andrea Estes and Evan Allen Globe Staff  June 27, 2015

The Probation Department is investigating why James Horton’s probation officer apparently did not report Horton’s repeated violations of court-ordered conditions in recent months — violations that might have landed him behind bars before the night of the crash.

It would look bad on a resume.


“If he wasn’t in the street — if he was in jail like he was supposed to be — none of this would have happened,” said Yanellys Rivera, Yalitza Camacho’s sister and aunt of 8-year-old Yadielys, who died on June 6. Rivera spoke on behalf of the family in the home they shared. “He killed my niece, and he killed us, too.”

He went through the Plymouth DA’s Office, didn't he?

Horton missed numerous court-ordered meetings this spring with his probation officer, Delores Johnson, a 22-year veteran of the Probation Department. The meetings were a condition of his freedom after his arrest in a Brockton assault case, but he never showed up, according to two people with direct knowledge of the case. There is no record in court files that the Probation Department reported him as delinquent.

“Upon initial review of the case, it appears that James Horton was not in compliance with his pretrial conditions of release,” said Probation Department spokeswoman Coria Holland in a statement. “Our office is in the process of conducting a more extensive investigation of the case and will take appropriate action if deemed necessary.”

Holland declined to say whether Horton met with Johnson.

A reporter attempted to speak with Johnson at her office in Brockton, but the person at the desk sent out her supervisor, Brockton District Court’s chief probation officer, Michael Branch. Branch said that no one from his office was allowed to talk to the media, though he said he wished he could.

“There’s always two sides to every story,” Branch said. He declined to elaborate.


Related: Bulger Teaches Teens a Lesson 

If you kids want to Branch out....

Johnson did not respond to voice mails left on phone numbers listed in her name.

A spokeswoman for Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz said that if prosecutors had been notified that a defendant was not meeting conditions of release, prosecutors would have moved to revoke bail.

Yeah, whatever, Tim.

The apparent lapse is the latest problem for a department roiled by a patronage scandal that led to the fraud and racketeering conviction of former commissioner John O’Brien. Johnson was hired before O’Brien became probation commissioner and put in place the corrupt system that handed jobs and promotions to applicants with political connections. The circumstances of her hiring are unknown.

That's why there are so many stupid laws in Massachusetts. Keeps family and friends of fat-cat legi$lators fed.

Almost three months before the June 6 crash that killed Yadielys and left her 12-year-old cousin badly hurt, Horton was arrested in Brockton for allegedly biting his girlfriend and threatening to slice her throat, according to court documents.

The 45-year-old Horton has five aliases and a 24-page adult criminal record that includes 50 defaults and 47 guilty findings for offenses including assault, motor vehicle offenses, and drug possession with intent to distribute, according to court documents. He has a nine-page driving record, and 14 restraining orders have been filed against him.

At his March 16 arraignment on the assault charges, prosecutors asked for $2,000 bail, but the judge sided with Horton’s defense attorney and set bail at $500, according to a Plymouth County spokeswoman.

The judge ordered Horton to pay court fees and child support, to stay away from his girlfriend and her home, to submit to drug testing, and to meet every week with his probation officer, Johnson.

But, according to the two people with direct knowledge, Horton never showed up for his weekly meetings, and court records showed that Johnson never reported him for the violations. A single missed meeting would have been grounds for Horton’s rearrest, a court official said.

Just an oversight and mistake, right?

Instead, Horton was free on the night of June 6, when he allegedly flew down West Selden Street in Mattapan in a borrowed car at around 11 p.m., and plowed into Yadielys and her cousin, Joseph Eduardo Cordova, as they rode bikes during a family birthday party.


Mattapan party turns from celebration to devastation
Family, friends mourn girl killed in Mattapan
$500,000 bail for man held in fatal Mattapan hit-and-run

He made it.

Yadielys Camacho, 8, was killed after she was struck by a car.

Horton allegedly ran away, and was arrested later hiding in a closet in a Brockton home.

“He has no heart,” said Yadielys’s mother, according to her sister, Rivera, who translated Spanish for her.

Joseph is recovering from his injuries, said Rivera, and can stand up again. But the head injury he suffered causes him to forget. Several times, Rivera said, he has been forced to learn all over again that his cousin is dead.

Horton “hit them so hard. He was speeding so fast,” said Rivera. “We don’t want to believe this happened. In my house lived four little kids, and now we’re missing one.”

The family does not want an apology, they said. It would do no good, because it couldn’t bring back Yadielys, a smart little girl whose happy chattering once filled their home. They want answers, and they want justice.

“I want everybody to explain to me ‘Why?’ ” said Rivera.

The attorney representing Horton on charges stemming from the fatal accident, including motor vehicle homicide, declined to comment. Horton’s sister also declined to comment, saying Horton advised her not to speak to the press. The woman Horton allegedly assaulted in March did not respond to a request for comment.

Horton’s attorney in the March case, Thomas Lawton, said he did not know his client had been missing his weekly meetings.

“I feel terrible that he was allegedly involved in this hit-and-run case,” said Lawton. “I feel so bad for this young lady. And I hope the allegations against my client are not true.”

Rivera said her family is still struggling to believe that Yadielys is dead.

“Everybody in the house is missing her,” the girl’s mother said as Rivera translated. “We’ll be missing her for always.”



"US seeks testimony from ex-probation chief in new probe; Prosecutors thought to be focusing on role of Beacon Hill politicians" by Andrea Estes and Scott Allen Globe Staff  March 26, 2015

Federal prosecutors are pressuring disgraced former state probation commissioner John J. O’Brien to testify in a renewed investigation likely to focus on politicians who took part in the illegal hiring scheme he once ran, according to two people briefed on the probe.

O’Brien, who is appealing his 18-month prison sentence for his role in the patronage scandal, has been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury about his former agency’s rigged hiring system, which funneled jobs to politically connected candidates, the people briefed on the investigation said. Both asked for anonymity because the probe is secret.

It is not clear which Beacon Hill politicians might be targeted in a new probation investigation. Though the US attorney’s office did not seek indictments against legislators, it named numerous politicians, including House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, as “unindicted co-conspirators” in the scandal. DeLeo denied wrongdoing.

It appears O’Brien won’t testify willingly about his probation dealings on Beacon Hill, the two people said — so prosecutors will have to seek immunity for O’Brien in order to force him to appear. Under a grant of immunity, he could not be charged with additional crimes that may come to light during his testimony. He could, however, face perjury charges if he lied to the grand jury.

Paul Flavin, a longtime friend and former lawyer of O’Brien, said prosecutors are going too far.

“Certainly it’s enough already. The gentleman has been put through the ringer,” said Flavin. “I don’t know what their objective is.”

Okay. He finally got what he's been putting others through, huh?

O’Brien and two top aides were convicted of racketeering last July after prosecutors alleged that O’Brien ran the Probation Department from 1998 to 2010 like a criminal enterprise, directing jobs to candidates endorsed by legislators in exchange for legislative favors — in effect, bribing politicians.

Well, that's the $y$tem we got!

O’Brien had argued that he did nothing criminal, but only engaged in political horse-trading common on Beacon Hill.

That's the problem.

His supporters, asked about a renewed push by prosecutors, said they do not believe O’Brien knows anything that could help convict lying politicians.

But prosecutors have already argued at O’Brien’s trial that O’Brien used the lure of job openings in the department to help DeLeo win election as speaker of the House.

DeLeo responded sharply: “The United States attorney has chosen to try me in the press because they lack the evidence to do so in a court of law. That is simply unconscionable and unfair.”

Awwwwwwwww! Poor scum!

A key government witness, a former legislative liaison at the Probation Department named Ed Ryan, testified that O’Brien told him in 2008 to run all hires for a new electronic monitoring program past a top aide to DeLeo, who was then chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

Ryan said that O’Brien told him that he was offering jobs to help DeLeo become speaker in a race with fellow Democrat John Rogers.

The electronic monitoring program, designed to track criminal defendants with electronic ankle bracelets, was created with funding from the Ways and Means Committee, Assistant US Attorney Fred. M. Wyshak Jr. told the jury during O’Brien’s trial. An aide to DeLeo then called legislators telling them the jobs were available if the lawmakers supported DeLeo’s then nascent bid for speaker, Wyshak said.

(Blog editor needed to step aside due to the stench of bald and brazen corruption)

“We have always believed there is a direct quid pro quo for these hires,” Wyshak told the federal judge presiding over the trial.

Federal prosecutors have previously tried to implicate politicians in the scandal, even bringing former House speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi from federal prison in Kentucky to testify before a grand jury in 2012.

But DiMasi, serving an eight-year prison sentence in an unrelated corruption case, told friends that he did not provide significant information about legislators’ involvement in the rigged hiring despite five hours of testimony.

RelatedAmid health care, gay marriage victories, no one invokes DiMasi

I guess he's not dead yet. 

Poor Sal. He stood up against the gamblers, and was ousted for a petty cash software deal.

Now, Wyshak may want O’Brien to help him prove that politicians made false statements during the investigation or prosecution.

O’Brien friend Flavin said he does not believe O’Brien ever made any such explicit agreements.

“The whole basis of the issue has been patronage,” he said. “It’s a systemic culture in the Commonwealth. No one ever says “You do this, I’ll do that.” It doesn’t happen. They seem to believe that’s what happened.”

And you wonder why I'm down on state government?

According to people who have been briefed on the new probe, the statute of limitations on any crimes that may have taken place during O’Brien’s 12-year tenure will expire in May.

As a result, any new charges would probably be related only to false statements made more recently during the grand jury probe and trial.

DeLeo’s office released a statement yesterday saying that the speaker had no reason to fear. “Speaker DeLeo’s statements have all been truthful and cannot be contradicted because he never testified before a grand jury or at the probation trial,” said DeLeo spokesman Seth Gitell.

Meaning he wasn't under oath and subject to the charge of perjury for any of them. Big difference.

Despite the allegations, DeLeo’s power has not diminished. Last month, he successfully persuaded his colleagues to eliminate the term limits he championed when he became House speaker.

But he's a truthful hypocritical $cum!

O’Brien and his two former deputies, Elizabeth Tavares and William Burke III, have appealed their convictions. Three days before O’Brien and Tavares were to report to prison, the appeals court issued a stay of the sentence while the appeal is being heard. Tavares was sentenced to 90 days, while Burke was given one year’s probation.

No one goes to jail?

In its order allowing O’Brien and Tavares to remain free, the Appeals Court chief Justice Sandra Lynch and two other judges wrote, “Based on material presented by the parties, the court is persuaded of a sufficient probability that the appeals present a “substantial question.”

Neither O’Brien’s lawyer, Stellio Stinnis, nor a spokeswoman for the US attorney’s office, returned phone calls seeking comment.


Your sentence has been served, readers; now if you can just pass this test:

Killer in 1985 Lawrence case is up for parole
Killer of Lawrence cab driver makes case for parole

I dunno.