December 2011 Archives

Quincy Police Arrest Father and Daughter Accused of Stealing Christmas Deliveries

December 24, 2011

fedex.jpgQuincy District Court arraigned Michael Ritchie and his teenage daughter Jennifer this week after their arrests on charges of larceny under $250 and larceny over $250. According to an article in the Globe, a Quincy woman called the Quincy Police Tuesday after seeing a woman walk away from her home carrying a package that had been delivered earlier. The resident apparently told the police that the woman got into a white pickup truck which drove away.

The Quincy police "spotted a white Ford pickup truck with an American flag [decal] nearby and spoke with the driver . . . Michael Ritchie." Ritchie admitted to having been in the neighborhood from which the package was taken, but said he "was just visiting his daughter Jennifer." The police say that during this conversation, they saw a package in the back of the truck. Apparently this turned out to be the missing package. When the police questioned Jennifer, she admitted to stealing that package as well as others in the neighborhood.

The notoriety of these two defendants garnered national attention in an ABC News story covering the topic. The title of the story was "Holiday Grinches Steal Christmas in Mass." Quincy Police Captain John Dougan is quoted as saying that package thieves have been following delivery trucks and taking the packages from doorsteps before the recipients get home. The ABC story reported that the police caught Michael Ritchie with a set of speakers and a series of CDs. At Jennifer Ritchie's home, the police found allegedly stolen baby clothes and Hello Kitty items intended as gifts.

The Ritchies are not drawing much sympathy from the stories. In fact, a comment following the Globe story begins "Death Penalty!" That's obviously a bit strong, but it conveys an understandable human reaction to these allegations. No matter how one feels about the acts described, however, the actors are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In fact, the more despicable the charge the more important it is for the rights of the accused to be protected. This starts with experience criminal defense counsel.

A few things that counsel likely will explore:

1. Did the woman that reported the theft describe the truck as a Ford with an American Flag decal? If so, that may be specific enough to justify the stop of the truck. If not, the stop may not be justified and everything discovered as a result of the stop may be suppressed with a successful motion to suppress physical evidence. End result - dismissal.

2. If the police suspected Jennifer Ritchie, did they give her an adequate Miranda warning before she admitted wrong doing? If not, then her statements may be suppressed with a successful motion to suppress statements. If these statements were the catalysts to the recovery of items from her home, then the suppression of the statements would also result in the suppression of the items found there.

3. Did the father know what his daughter was doing? Was he actually visiting his daughter in the area? Where did she live? Did she jump in his truck and throw the package in the back without telling her father where it came from? After all, she had other items in her home and it appears that her father has only been charged with the items in the truck. Surely, if anything was found in his home, it would have been reported. Moreover, the stories do not say that she implicated her father in her other thefts. I do not have all of the evidence that the police have. But, based strictly upon these news reports, isn't it at least possible that Michael Ritchie did not know what was going on? And if he did not, what of the facetious call for the death penalty?

A committed professional criminal defense attorney will not shy away from a difficult case and will press every angle for his client regardless of the popularity of the client or the charge. Without apology.

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Patriot Edelman Skates from Groping Charge as Former Bruin Milbury Hit with Roughing Charge

December 17, 2011

There were two local sports figures in criminal law news reports this week. Yesterday, the Boston Globe reported: "Juilian Edelman 'humbled' after charges dropped." Today, the Globe reported: "Milbury sought in Pee Wee altercation."

First up, Patriot, Julian Edelman. On the strength of a woman's allegations that Edleman groped her in a night club, the Boston Police arrested the wide receiver/kick returner/defensive back on November 1. The two had been on the dance floor at the Storyville night club in Boston this Halloween. Edelman was dressed as the character Lieutenant Jim Dangle from the Reno 911 show. The unnamed woman's costume was not described, but she reported that that Edelman "reached under [it] and grabbed her crotch."

The Boston Police arrested Edelman and charged him with "indecent assault and battery." He was arraigned in the Boston Municipal Court and released without the imposition of bail. The Globe reported that he was scheduled to return on January 10, 2012. The case, however, must have been rescheduled for Thursday this week. The prosecution then announced that after a thorough investigation, they would not be able to meet their burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

According to the Globe, the official statement was: "To constitute indecent assault and battery, physical contact must be intentional; potentially physically harmful or an affront to the victim's integrity; fundamentally offensive to contemporary moral values; and without justification of excuse. Prosecutors could not prove these elements with evidence contained in the surveillance imagery, witness statements, and other evidence." The DA's press secretary added that the decision to drop the charges was based on the "provability of the case," and had "absolutely nothing to do" with the identity of the parties.

This is obviously good news for Edelman and the Patriots who will be facing the Broncos in Denver tomorrow afternoon. Fans hope that Edelman has a clear head as he will be needed in his fairly new role in the struggling (32d in the league) defensive backfield. Especially with "Tebow Time" looming. The resolution of the court case is, however, somewhat puzzling. It leaves one to think that there must be more to the story. If a woman says that a man grabbed her crotch without her consent, witnesses and video recordings are not necessary. That statement covers all the elements of the crime. She just needs to take the stand and tell the jury that is what happened. If they believe her it's a conviction, if not, it's an acquittal. She is most certainly the missing link in the prosecution's case. Without her, they didn't have one.

Next up, Mike Milbury, a far more prominent local sports figure. He played 12 seasons for the Bruins, followed by serving as the team's assistant general manager and then head coach. He is currently a sports media analyst, and as we learned from recent news, an assistant coach and director of coaching with his son's Pee Wee hockey team - the Boch Blazers.

The Boston Globe reports that on December 9, the Blazers played the Boston Junior Blackhawks at Jack Kirrane Ice Skating Rink in Brookline. There were reports that a 12-year old boy had been "antagonizing" Milbury's son, Jake, during the game. Milbury complained to the Blackhawk's coach without redress. After the game, the kids had pizza on the ice and then lined up for a shoot-out at center ice. At this point, the alleged victim threw Jake to the ice and a scrum ensued. The victim's mother said that Mike Milbury intervened, picked her son up by the shirt, shook him, and yelled at him. Surely, there were several other witnesses.

The Brookline Police investigated and decided to bring charges against Milbury including assault and battery, threatening to commit a crime, and disorderly conduct. It is unclear if Brookline Police Captain Thomas Keaveny was part of the investigation, but he told the Globe that he has four children of his own who have played sports, and "it doesn't surprise him to receive reports a former professional hockey player getting involved in an alleged assault ." He also said: "I've seen a lot of irresponsible things done by adults and Mike Milbury is no different in my mind." He then attempted to walk this back by saying that these are "just allegations," but a bell, as we say, cannot be un-rung.

Luckily for Milbury, the charges were all misdemeanors and none of the alleged crimes were witnessed by the police. (Captain Keaveny apparently came to his conclusions without the benefit of first-hand knowledge). As such, Milbury was not arrested, and he is entitled to a hearing before the Clerk Magistrate of the Brookline District Court to determine whether a criminal complaint will issue against him. As I have said in the past, this is an excellent opportunity to get folks together and hash out their differences without the necessity of drawn-out criminal court intervention.

Whether that is possible here is somewhat problematic. On one hand is Milbury who watched his own son being antagonized and then thrown to the ice. Milbury has people on his side that describe him as a great guy, as a fantastic coach who is well loved by the kids, and as being a proponent of peace on the Pee Wee ice. On the other is a police captain who has exhibited a bias against former professional athletes in general and against Milbury in particular, as well as an understandably upset mother who witnessed her own son being manhandled by an adult. This one will be a challenge for the magistrate, especially with the pressure of media coverage.

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Dedham Police Catch Dedham Residents Allegedly Stealing Catalytic Converters

December 10, 2011

legs from under car.jpgThe Dedham District Court will hear charges against Barry Tremblay and his sister Lauren Tremblay as a result of their arrest on Wednesday this week. According to news reports from the Patch and Boston.Com, Dedham Police Officer Kevin Mahoney was keeping an eye on the parking lot at the Dedham Corporate MBTA station because of several recent complaints from people who had catalytic converters stolen right out from under their cars. (These exhaust system components contain trace amount if precious metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium and as such have a fairly significant scrap value.) Around 2:00 p.m., Mahoney's efforts paid off when he spotted a Nissan that he had previously seen parked near victimized vehicles.

Apparently, Mahoney had done some investigation as a result of his past observations. He either knew the Tremblays from around town or checked the registration of the Nissan and found out who they were. In any event, he learned that they both had suspended driver's licenses. Armed with this information he could have pulled them over anywhere that he saw them driving around.

On Wednesday, however, they seem to have returned to the scene of the crime to appropriate some more car parts. Mahoney watched Lauren drive around the lot and eventually park next to a Lexus. One of the previously pillaged vehicles was also a Lexus. Perhaps this make has a more valuable catalytic converter or maybe they have converters that are easier to remove (especially with practice). As Mahoney watched, Barry Tremblay got out of their car and ducked under the Lexus. He got back in the car in about two minutes, and they left the lot.

Another Dedham Police unit pulled Lauren over for operating with a suspended license. Officer Mahoney then asked Barry to get out of the passenger seat. The police saw two "freshly cut" catalytic converters on the car floor. A search of the car uncovered another converter, a battery powered saw, several saw blades, and wet clothes that Barry Tremblay had been wearing just before disappearing under the Lexus. When the police returned to the lot, they found that the catalytic converter had been removed from that Lexus.

The Dedham Police brought charges against them in the Dedham District Court. It appears that brother and sister Tremblay were each charged with larceny over $250, receiving stolen property over $250, and possession of burglarious tools. According to Boston.Com, Ms. Tremblay was also charged with driving with a suspended license and "defaulting on a warrant for Dedham District Court." There is not really any such charge as "defaulting on a warrant." She either had an outstanding warrant, or defaulted on a court case which resulted in the issuance of a warrant. In the later case, there could be a new charge of failure to appear in court violation of chapter 276, section 82A. This charge, however, is rare.

The actual larceny charge is related to the theft that Mahoney witnessed. The receiving stolen property charge is related to the other converters that the police found in the Tremblay's car. Receiving stolen property charges are generally brought when the police do not have sufficient proof of the actual theft. With regard to this charge there may be a question as to who owns the sawed-off converters. After all, to prove that an item is "stolen property" the prosecution must prove that the item belongs to someone other than the person charged. Unfortunately for the Tremblays, however, the apparent strength of the larceny case will likely make this a moot point.

Unless there is more to this (and the Tremblays are not guilty after all) they will likely be seeking the best possible plea arrangement. In addition to any penalties, the prosecution will be seeking restitution for the victims of the crimes. This could be very costly. The replacement value of these parts is certainly far greater than the scrap value and the victims will be entitled to repayment of all actual out-of-pocket losses. (insurance and insurance deductibles may come into play).

So, as is often the case in criminal court, the "haves" and the "have-nots" clash. If the Trembalys were so financially desperate that had no licenses and needed to crawl under cars and saw off exhaust parts, what are the chances they have saved up enough to pay the Lexus owners the cost of repairs? They may have simply reasoned that in this economy desperate times call for desperate measures. In many cases like this, however, the courts often speculate that the real motivation is drug addiction. When this is true the criminal court system may actually offer some help along with punishment. With an excellent probation department like the one in the Dedham District Court, and available services, people caught in these situations who dedicate themselves to change have a chance.