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    Angel L. Agront is living at 88 Fair St. He is not wanted by police.

    CHICOPEE -- The Police Department is notifying residents that a new Level 3 sex offender has moved into the community.

    Angel Luis Agront, 47, is now living at 88 Fair St. and he works in East Longmeadow, Police Sgt. Richard Henry said.

    Agront is described as white, 5 feet, 7 inches tall, weighing about 185 pounds. His hair is brown and his eyes are brown.

    He was convicted in November 2000 of rape of a child with force, indecent assault and battery of a person under 14, indecent assault and battery of a person over 14 and dissemination harmful material to minors.

    There are more than 40 Level 3 sex offenders living in the city. The Level 3 offenders are those most likely to re-offend and are required to register with local police every year.

    None of the Level 3 offenders are wanted by police. It is also illegal to harass an offender, police said.

    Gallery preview 

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    Alberto Martinez, 42, was found guilty of strangulation or suffocation in relation to an attack on a Holyoke woman June 30, 2016.

    SPRINGFIELD -- A Holyoke woman testified the father of her teenage daughter assaulted her in June of 2016.

    Hampden Superior Court Judge William J. Ritter, in a jury-waived trial this week, found Alberto Martinez, 42, guilty of strangulation or suffocation, assault and battery on a family or household member, and violation of an abuse prevention order.

    He sentenced Martinez to four to five years in state prison and 18 months probation.

    The sentence will begin running after the sentence Martinez is currently serving.

    Martinez in May was sentenced to one and a half to two years in state prison for assaults at the Hampden County Correctional Center in Ludlow.

    In that case Martinez pleaded guilty to assault and battery on a correctional officer, assault and battery, and disturbing a correctional institution.

    He was in jail awaiting trial on the case involving the assaults on the Holyoke woman when he was charged with the assaults at the jail.

    The Holyoke woman, under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Melissa Doran, said she was in bed on June 30, 2016, when a pillow was place on her face.

    The woman said Martinez, against whom she had a restraining order, put his hands on her throat. She said she was bleeding after the attack. Martinez stole her keys and car, she said.

    Holyoke Police Officer Anthony Ribeiro testified that, when he got to the home, an ambulance was also arriving. He said the woman had blood on her lips and tongue, light red marks on her neck and a bruise on her knees.

    He said the usual course of action when an officer finds an assault victim would be to notify detectives. Asked if he did that he said, "I don't recall."

    By the time a detective took photos of the woman's injuries it was several days later, according to testimony.

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    Two former Springfield police detectives were arrested and charged with civil rights violations in connection with the 2016 arrests of three Latino boys after they stole an undercover police car. Watch video

    SPRINGFIELD -- One of the most dramatic crises in the police department's recent history peaked in a quiet courtroom Wednesday, with instrumental jazz music piped cloyingly through overhead speakers.

    Tarnished Springfield Police Officer Gregg A. Bigda was arrested along with a former colleague earlier in the day. Bigda is charged with three counts of deprivation of civil rights and one count of filing a false report in an internal investigation.

    He pleaded not guilty to all charges in U.S. District Court and was released without bail.

    The ongoing debacle is the outcome of an ill-fated pizza run and a streak of alleged bad judgment surrounding the arrests of three juveniles in 2016, according to reams of police reports and witness statements.

    Police Commissioner John R. Barbieri has placed Bigda on unpaid, indefinite leave while the case is pending.

    "That could change. Anything is possible," police department spokesman Ryan Walsh said. "But after conferring with the city's labor relations department, Officer Bigda will be suspended indefinitely without pay."

    It has been a steep fall from grace for Bigda, once one of the aggressive, fair-haired boys of the narcotics squad -- relied upon for solid court testimony in drug cases and a sentimental favorite for his sharp wit and motivated police work, according to law enforcement sources.

    The veteran detective agreed to surrender his firearms and license to carry a weapon to his own department as part of his conditions of pretrial release. He was also ordered to refrain from excessive drinking, a habit a federal prosecutor argued fed into his current plight.

    Along with Bigda, former police detective Steven M. Vigneault was arrested and charged with a single count of deprivation of civil rights under color of law. The entire prosecution stems from a messy night in 2016 when a group of kids jumped into an undercover vehicle Vigneault left running outside a pizza shop in Springfield.

    According to witnesses, Vigneault stewed over the embarrassment and Bigda drank from a bottle of rum in his top desk drawer.

    When the car was spotted speeding through Wilbraham and into Palmer, members of the narcotics unit leaped into action and sped out to the scene as officers from surrounding communities worked to corral four Latino teens who abandoned the car and fled on foot.

    A five-count indictment alleges Bigda kicked and beat one of the juvenile suspects while he was in handcuffs and Vigneault joined in by kicking another in the face. Bigda later harangued and threatened two of the boys at the Palmer police department, without having an adult present or reading them their Miranda rights.

    Charges against the teens were eventually dismissed, and one has filed a federal lawsuit against Bigda, Vigneault and others.

    The interrogations were captured on video at Palmer's police station.

    "I'll beat the f--- out of you when (we) get back to Springfield," Bigda told one of the boys.

    In another instance, Bigda threatened another suspect that he'd "stick a f---ing kilo of coke in your pocket and put you away for f---ing 15 years." 

    The irony is: Bigda now faces a 15-year sentence under federal sentencing guidelines if convicted of some of the charges handed up by a grand jury on Oct. 25.

    Vigneault faces the same potential penalty. He resigned in 2016 over the kicking allegation, while Bigda was suspended for 60 days when the video footage came to light. One of the teen suspects has sued the department over the alleged beating in federal court. That case is pending.

    After Vigneault's arraignment, defense lawyer Daniel D. Kelly said Vigneault maintains his innocence.

    "He said it to me and I can't say it any better: He said 'I did nothing wrong.' He looks forward to his day in court," Kelly said.

    Also pending is an administrative review of the narcotics unit's "patterns and practices" by the U.S. Department of Justice. That is a parallel investigation to the criminal probe that spanned nearly two years and resulted in Wednesday's arrests.

    While Bigda -- relegated to the records unit since his 2016 suspension -- was forced Wednesday to surrender the trappings of the job, including his badge and service weapon, Vigneault endured those indignities two years ago.

    Complicating the workforce fiasco, Bigda and Vigneault dated the same woman, another police officer. Bigda drunkenly confronted Vigneault and the woman at her home within weeks of the Palmer incident, which prompted a 10-day suspension for Bigda and a temporary restraining order.

    Months later, Vigneault found himself also at odds with the woman and is currently subject to a year-long restraining order. He was twice arrested for violating that order in 2017 -- not by acts of violence, but by sending the woman texts and buying her unwanted gifts, she said.

    The two scenarios hit an awkward intersection on March 1, 2017 as he was arrested by members of his onetime department coming out of the federal courthouse after meeting with prosecutors discussing his prospective testimony against his former colleagues.

    Vigneault's stock with the feds apparently plummeted rather recently, as he went from valued cooperating witness to an indicted defendant. 

    Bigda left the federal courthouse Wednesday wordlessly as photographers from multiple media outlets dogged his steps up State Street.

    A pretrial conference is set for both defendants for Jan. 24.

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    The Holyoke Police Department fielded calls from concerned parents Tuesday and Wednesday about an internet hoax involving the Holyoke Mall. The HPD said the social media posting proved false and should be ignored.

    HOLYOKE - The Holyoke Police Department issued a warning Wednesday evening about an internet hoax involving the Holyoke Mall.

    Lt. Jim Albert, a spokesman for the HPD, said the hoax warns young girls not to use the mall's restrooms alone during the upcoming holiday season. Department detectives fielded calls from concerned parents who read the post.

    The message, delivered through social media, states: "Just a heads up. Co-workers uncle is a Holyoke cop. He said don't go to the Holyoke malls alone or use the bathrooms in mall alone. People are stabbing young girls with needles and taking them for sex trafficking...Just be careful with holidays coming up.... Renee. This is from Paige."

    Albert stressed that HPD detectives and Holyoke Mall security thoroughly investigated the posting and found no credible threats. He added the wording in hoax fits a pattern, with only the threat location changing.

    He said Holyoke detectives began investigating the online posting Tuesday. "It's been around for years. The same thing keeps getting modified. It gets sent to many jurisdictions," Albert said. "They modify the quote to reflect the municipality they're threatening. It's a hoax."

    Albert praised the cooperation of the Holyoke Mall security and management. He added the mall also fielded calls from parents. "Rightly so, they were calling to inquire," he said.

    The mall welcomes families on Halloween for trick-or-treating.

    "The mall vetted this through us to make sure they didn't have a problem coming at them," Albert said. "We were glad to work with them."

    Likely the social meeting posting will lead to an investigative "black hole," Albert said, usually pointing to a dead end. The hoaxes get picked by other scammers, who then create variations.

    For any credible threats, Albert said to call 911 immediately.

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    Read obituaries from The Republican newspaper in Springfield, Massachusetts.

    Here are the obituaries published Wednesday in The Republican:

    Obituaries from The Republican, Oct. 31, 2018


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    Some city employees have gone 10 or more years without a raise or cost-of-living increase, Morse said.

    HOLYOKE -- Mayor Alex B. Morse is calling for the City Council's Ordinance Committee to act on a salary study conducted over three years ago, which said some city employees have gone a decade or more without raises or cost-of-living adjustments.

    The mayor said it was "incomprehensible" that the council hasn't acted on the recommendations.

    With the planned departures of Chief of Staff Rory Casey and City Solicitor Paul Payer, Morse has renewed his call for the City Council to "act swiftly" on the salary study, which "has been languishing" in the Ordinance Committee, he said.

    Morse said 48 nonunion city employees have not received a single raise or cost-of-living boost for 10 or more years. He said the wages are not competitive with other municipalities in Western Massachusetts, making it difficult to retain or recruit talent.

    "Together, these issues have led to the departure of dozens of city staff over the last several years and has contributed to low morale within City Hall," Morse said in a statement. "In contrast, hundreds of city employees in unions have seen raises and cost of living adjustments throughout the same period of time."

    The council commissioned Human Resources Services, Inc. for the $25,000 study, which examined city employees' salaries and compensations and provided a comparative analysis of nearby communities. Morse said the report provided specific recommendations to "modernize our outdated system."

    "I have requested Committee Chairwoman Linda Vacon to take the recommendations up to no avail. I have also asked Council President Todd McGee to taken action and help put this on the agenda," Morse said.

    But Vacon said the Ordinance Committee addressed the salary study and reported the finding to the council.

    "Since then, it is my understanding that the Mayor created a contract with many of the noted 40 plus employees that provided them with pay increases," Vacon said.

    She said the council recently "approved an increase in the scale to allow for a raise for those remaining employees that did not receive one in the last five to 10 years."

    Vacon said she met with Morse and McGee about the study May 2, with the understanding "that the mayor would review the study to lower the high-end of the ranges that were a concern initially."

    "I believe those remaining employees would appreciate the raise already approved by the City Council. Hopefully, free cash will be approved soon, and the Mayor will put in for a transfer for them," she said.

    Stagnant salaries

    The mayor said Casey was earning the same salary as the day he joined the administration five years ago. Factor in the rise in health insurance and Casey earned less than when he began, Morse said.

    Nilka Ortiz, the mayor's executive assistant, earns the $40,700 annually -- the same salary she began with under the Elaine Pluta Administration nine year prior.

    "This is disgraceful, and we should be ashamed," Morse wrote.

    With Paul Payer's departure, Morse said the study recommended a salary range of $69,000 to $98,000 for city solicitor. Payer, who earned $65,975, accepted a legal position with the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.

    Fire Chief John Pond's executive assistant, who began with the City of Holyoke 25 years ago, hasn't received a raise or cost-of-living increase in over a decade.

    "The Council may say they've taken action to address some of these issues, but their recent ordinance was a further slap in the face to this very group of employees, as only a handful of people were provided their first three-percent increase in over 10 years," Morse said.

    In an April 2015 memo to the council, which accompanied the study, Morse requested the body amend current ordinances to create a single "Classification and Compensation Plan" for all nonunion and non-grant funded positions.

    The memo urged the council to draft a salary ordinance for elected officials, and to amend the "Miscellaneous Salary Schedule," which included stipends for board members and temporary and seasonal employees.

    The study also recommended pay raises for the mayor, from $85,000 to $115,000 annually, and the city council.

    Ordinance vetoed

    The mayor sent an April 10 email to Vacon in which he said only a handful of employees were added to the Professional Supervisors Association, which removed the employees from the salary study proposal.

    "There are still about 48 employees that aren't in a collective bargaining unit whose salaries need to be adjusted," Morse stated in the email. The "handful" of employees garnered a three-percent, automatic bump in salary.

    In an April 16 memo to the council, Morse said he vetoed the council's salary ordinance because it "fails to codify a salary structure that represents market rates and give everyone the opportunity to progress through a salary range."

    Secondly, Morse said the council's ordinance "fails to reward people adequately for staying in their positions for a long time. A three-increase for staff who have not gotten a raise in 12 years is not adequate. Inflation has been 20 percent in that time, not three-percent."

    The mayor cited the ballooning costs in health insurance, which exceeded the rate of inflation.

    "The average staff member affected by your ordinance earns $33,400 per year," Morse wrote. "You would give him/her a raise of $1,002. Yet the purchasing power of the $33,400 has declined by 21 percent or $7,000 in the past 11 years. Is that $1,002 a fair reward for loyalty and hard work?"

    In a June 27 email to McGee, the mayor requested a follow-up meeting about the salary ordinance and the upcoming budget. A date was not agreed upon and the meeting did not occur, according to Morse.

    "Myself and Councilor Vacon did sit with the mayor," McGee said. "Also, we will look into the Mayor's request, but as a body, I believe that the City Council, and we, as Councilors, look at all spending of Holyoke's funding in a thoughtful and fiscally prudent manner, and we will continue to do that."

    Holyoke pay study by on Scribd

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    Skimming devices were installed on ATMs in Chicopee, Amherst, Whately, Southwick and Enfield, Connecticut.

    BOSTON - Two Romanian nationals pled guilty and one was sentenced Wednesday to conducting an ATM skimming scheme that stretched across seven states and included multiple Western Massachusetts communities including Chicopee, Amherst, Southwick and Whately.

    Nicusor Boncullescu, 24, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young to three years in prison followed by three years supervised release Wednesday. He was also ordered to pay $72,922 in restitution, said Christina DiLorio-Sterling, spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling.

    He pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to conduct an aenterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity, conspiracy to use counterfeit access devices and aggravated identity theft.

    During separate hearings Wednesday in U.S. District Court, two other men Suedin Chiciu, 28, and Florinel Vaduv, 22, who were involved in the same wide-reaching scheme, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity and conspiracy to use counterfeit access devices. Vaduv also pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft. They are scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 19, she said.

    In total 15 people, 14 of whom were members of the Hornea Crew, were charged in the ATM skimming scheme where they used electronic devices to obtain debit card numbers and PIN numbers from bank customers. They then used the information to create counterfeit cards and to withdrew money from the victims' bank accounts.

    Over 18 months the group stole from customers in seven states, including Massachusetts and Connecticut, and installed skimming devices in 29 Massachusetts towns including Amherst, Chicopee, Southwick, and Whately and in Enfield, Connecticut, DiLorio-Sterling said.

    The 15 transferred money throughout the United States and to Romania and the People's Republic of China. Some of those transfers were for the purchase of skimming devices and related components from abroad, she said.

    Of the 15 defendants charged in the case, seven have been convicted and sentenced, three have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing, three are awaiting trial and two have not been arrested, she said.

    Two of the leaders were sentenced in in May. One received 65 months and the other received 42 months in prison. They were ordered to pay a total of $364,947 in restitution and other fines, she said.

    Lelling; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, made the announcement Wednesday. Those who assisted with the investigation include the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigations in Boston; U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Postal Service; Massachusetts Department of Corrections; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the Amherst, Billerica, Braintree, Boston, Quincy, Southwick, Waltham, Whately, and Westwood Police Departments; Connecticut State Police; Greenwich Police Department; the New York City Police Department; Houston Police Department; South Carolina Law Enforcement Division; Richland County (South Carolina) Sheriff's Department; Florence and Saluda (South Carolina) Police Departments; and the Solicitor's Offices of Greenville and Saluda Counties. Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy E. Moran of Lelling's Organized Crime and Gang Unit is prosecuting the case.

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    The name of the 30-year-old victim will not be released until his family is notified.

    HOPKINTON - A man was killed after he crashed his Jeep into the rear of a tractor trailer truck on the Massachusetts Turnpike Wednesday night.

    The 30-year-old victim is from Beverly. His name was not immediately released, Massachusetts State Police said.

    The crash occurred at about 6:30 p.m. when the driver slammed his 2002 Jeep Liberty into the rear of a tractor-trailer truck driven by a 42-year-old man from Quebec near the I-495 exchange in Hopkinton, police said.

    The victim as extricated by Hopkinton firefighters and died on the scene. The truck driver was not injured, police said.

    The right lane of the highway remains closed as troopers from the Charlton Barracks investigate the crash. Those who assisted at the scene were Troop C Headquarters, State Police Crime Scene Services Section, State Police Collision Analysis Reconstruction Section, State Police Commercial Motor Vehicle Enforcement Section, Hopkinton Fire Department, Massachusetts Office of Chief Medical Examiner, and Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

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    Here are the winning numbers in Wednesday's Powerball drawing. Watch video

    With Powerball players in New York and Iowa splitting a $687.7 million jackpot recently, the jackpot has reset. But the payoff is still a pretty good chunk of change for someone with the right numbers.


    Here are Wednesday's winning numbers:

    07-25-39-40-47, Powerball: 20, PowerPlay: 3X

    The estimated jackpot is $40 million. The lump sum payment before taxes would be about $23 million. If there is no jackpot winner, the amount grows larger for the next drawing.

    Powerball is held in 44 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

    A $2 ticket gives you a one in 292.2 million chance at joining the hall of Powerball champions.

    The drawings are held at 10:59 p.m. Eastern Wednesdays and Saturdays. Deadline to purchase tickets is 9:45 p.m.

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    The companies are nominated by banks, accounting firms and the like. Revenue figures are verified by the chamber but never made public.

     School bus provider Five Star Transportation and Whalley Computer Associates Inc. were the top companies honored last week by the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce at its annual Super 60 lunch.

    The chamber event honors 60 locally owned companies each year -- 30 for revenue and 30 for revenue growth.

    The companies are nominated by banks, accounting firms and the like. Revenue figures are verified by the chamber but never made public. Some companies qualify under both categories.

    Only the top three companies in each category are ranked. The remaining 27 are presented alphabetically.

    The event, now in its 29th year, was presented by Health New England and sponsored by People's United Bank, Wells Fargo, The Republican, the MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board and Zasco Productions.

    Lelaneia Dubay, co-founder with her husband, Tom, of Hartford Flavor Co., a distillery in Connecticut known for its line of Wild Moon liqueurs, was the keynote speaker.

    "Hartford Flavor Company is an example of a true entrepreneurial story about how an idea, a passion, or a hobby can become a thriving business by tapping into a trend and creating a unique product. We're excited that, just as Springfield is experiencing a renaissance, so is Hartford, with entrepreneurs like Lelaneia and Tom Dubay opening businesses just a train ride away on the new commuter rail line that connects the two cities," Springfield Regional Chamber President Nancy Creed said.

    A list of winners follows. An asterisk denotes companies that qualify under both the growth and revenue categories.

    Companies by Growth

    1. Five Star Transportation Inc. *
    2. Baystate Blasting Inc.
    3. In-Land Contracting Inc.
    • American Pest Solutions Inc.
    • Baystate Restoration Group
    • Burgess, Schultz & Robb PC
    • Center Square Grill
    • Chicopee Industrial Contractors
    • Courier Express Inc.
    • E.F. Corcoran Plumbing & Heating Co. Inc. *
    • EOS Approach, LLC/ProShred Security International
    • EWS Plumbing & Heating Inc.
    • Fletcher Sewer & Drain Inc.
    • Gallagher Real Estate *
    • Gleason Johndrow Landscaping Inc.
    • GMH Fence Co. Inc. *
    • Knight Machine & Tool Co. Inc.
    • L & L Property Services LLC
    • Market Mentors LLC *
    • Moran Sheet Metal Inc.
    • Northeast IT Systems Inc.
    • Raymond R. Houle Construction Inc.
    • Rodrigues Inc., doing business as Europa
    • Second Wind Consultants
    • Skip's Outdoor Accents Inc.
    • Summit Careers Inc.
    • Taplin Yard Pump & Power Equipment (M. Jags Inc.)
    • Vanguard Dental LLC
    • Wanczyk Evergreen Nursery Inc.
    • Webber & Grinnell Insurance Agency Inc.

    Companies by revenue

    1. Whalley Computer Associates Inc.
    2. Marcotte Ford Sales Inc.
    3. Tighe & Bond Inc.
    • A.G. Miller Co. Inc.
    • Baltazar Contractors Inc.
    • Charter Oak Insurance and Financial Services Co.
    • City Enterprise Inc.
    • Commercial Distributing Co. Inc.
    • Con-Test Analytical Laboratory (Filli LLC)
    • David R. Northup Electrical Contractors Inc.
    • Freedom Credit Union
    • The Futures Health Group LLC
    • Gary Rome Hyundai Inc.
    • Governors America Corp. - GAC Management Co.
    • Holyoke Pediatric Associates LLP
    • JET Industries Inc.
    • Kittredge Equipment Co. Inc.
    • Lancer Transportation
    • Louis & Clark Pharmacy and Medical Supplies
    • Maybury Material Handling Inc.
    • Notch Mechanical Contractors
    • O'Reilly, Talbot & Okun Associates Inc.
    • P.C. Enterprises Inc., doing business as Entre Computer
    • Paragus Strategic IT
    • Rediker Software Inc.
    • Sanderson MacLeod Inc.
    • TigerPress (Shafiis' Inc.)
    • Troy Industries Inc.
    • United Personnel Services Inc.
    • Westside Finishing Co. Inc.

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    A state commission investigated more than 400 allegations of sexual abuse of disabled adults in fiscal 2018.

    Richard Buckley's brother David was born with Down syndrome and later developed autism and other conditions.

    In 1999, David Buckley was allegedly raped by a male employee of the private group home where he lived. The perpetrator was moved to another group home. 

    In 2001, at a state-run group home, a staffer showering David Buckley hosed him down with scalding water until he was severely burned. He died from his injuries.

    Criminal charges were dropped and a civil suit was settled, Richard Buckley said. The woman who allegedly killed his brother still works for the state.

    "This is worse than the Catholic priest scandal because we are aware of it. You are aware of it," Buckley told the Legislature's Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. "When you've investigated (abuse) and found it to be valid, no one is ever held accountable."

    An oversight hearing by the legislative committee on Tuesday highlighted the problem of abuse - particularly sexual abuse - of people with disabilities in Massachusetts. Experts testified that people with disabilities are among the most vulnerable and are subject to abuse at high rates, often by those charged with caring for them.

    Nancy Alterio, executive director of Massachusetts' Disabled Persons Protection Commission, which investigates claims of abuse of adults with disabilities by their caregivers, said the conditions facing people with disabilities "are ripe for abuse." They are heavily reliant on caregivers, may have trouble communicating, and many have no sexual education and limited outside supports.

    "These factors and others are a perfect storm of vulnerability, access and concealment," Alterio said.

    According to statistics provided by the DPPC, reports of abuse in Massachusetts have increased the last five years. There were 9,031 abuse complaints in fiscal 2014, which increased to 11,895 complaints in fiscal 2018.

    Looking specifically at sexual abuse, there were 773 reports in fiscal 2014 and 878 in fiscal 2018. They mostly involved people with intellectual, developmental and mental health disabilities. 

    One incident can result in multiple reports, if multiple people report one case. The DPPC conducted 379 investigations of sexual abuse in fiscal 2014 and 404 investigations in 2018. 

    Alterio said one factor in the rising numbers is more people are recognizing and reporting abuse. She called the abuse of people with disabilities a worldwide "epidemic."

    Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, a committee member, called the numbers "stunning and staggering and shocking."

    Department of Developmental Services Commissioner Jane Ryder said, "One sexual assault suffered by an individual is one too many." But she said only a small percentage of those allegations were substantiated. 

    In fiscal 2017, Ryder said, there were 15 substantiated cases of sexual abuse involving people getting support from the department and three investigations still pending. In fiscal 2018, which ended June 30, there were three substantiated sexual abuse cases and 14 investigations still pending.

    Ryder said just because a case is "unsubstantiated" does not mean nothing happened, only that there is not enough evidence to prove it.

    "It's not to say we don't take those cases seriously to begin with," Ryder said. "Once an allegation comes in, we immediately take protective action." 

    For example, Ryder said an accused staff member will not be returned to caring for the person who accused them, even if the allegation is not substantiated.

    "The safety and well-being of the person we're supporting always comes first," she said.  

    The oversight hearing was called in response to a federal report released in January that examined systemic health and safety problems with group homes nationwide. The report specifically looked at Massachusetts and found that many serious incidents were never reported for investigation.

    Of 587 critical incidents that led to group home residents being seen in emergency rooms between 2012 and 2015, 88 were not reported to the Department of Developmental Services. 

    Only 73 incidents were reported to the DPPC for an investigation of abuse or neglect. The commission said that 102 additional incidents should have been reported.

    An earlier legislative hearing looked at oversight of group homes overall, while Tuesday's hearing centered on sexual abuse. 

    State officials said they have made progress in addressing sexual abuse. The DPPC received a grant to work with rape crisis centers and other groups to make sure adequate services are available to help survivors of sexual assault with disabilities recover from trauma. The DPPC created a unit tasked with responding to sexual assault, ensuring that the person gets medical care and any needed change to their programming and also supporting them with therapy and legal aid.

    The state agency has processes in place to provide victims with medical care, remove their abuser from the situation and refer complaints to the police for investigation.

    Ryder said the department provides compulsory training to staff on recognizing and reporting sexual abuse. The department teaches individuals with disabilities about sexuality and abuse, and tells families how to report abuse.

    "The department takes its responsibility to safeguard individuals from all instances of abuse, neglect and mistreatment seriously," Ryder said.

    But advocates say the procedures are insufficient. 

    "I can tell you without hesitation that the systems that are in place are not working, and we are failing to protect people with developmental disabilities in Massachusetts from sexual and other forms of abuse," said Anna Eves, whose disabled son was a victim of medical abuse and neglect. "We have to do better."

    Eves and Buckley are both involved in COFAR, the Coalition of Families and Advocates, a nonprofit made up of families of people supported by the Department of Developmental Services.

    Eves said wages for care providers should be higher to decrease turnover and attract better staff. She said the DPPC is underfunded. 

    Eves said after her son was abused, she submitted a public records request about the group home where he was living. She found out about a rape a year earlier, which neither the state nor the provider agency mentioned when she asked about the facility before admitting her son.

    "Families need and deserve better information about providers before they entrust their loved ones to them," Eves said.

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    Team manager Alex Cora, one of the team's four World Series trophies and a bystander were among those hit by errant beer cans.

    Confetti cannons boomed and huge crowds of fans cheered wildly on Wednesday as the Boston Red Sox rumbled through downtown aboard duck boats to mark the team's fourth World Series championship in the past 15 years.

    One of the team's championship trophies and team manager Alex Cora were hit by flying cans of beer that Boston fans have made a practice of offering their sports heroes during recent victory parades. Neither was seriously injured and it didn't take any varnish off the shining celebration.

    The rolling rally set off from venerable Fenway Park and wound its way through major city streets lined by fans numbering in the hundreds of thousands, some who arrived before dawn.

    Bits of red, white and blue paper rained down as team officials, players, and their families waved from the amphibious, World War II-era vehicles. Some autographed balls and drank beers tossed to them from the jubilant throng.

    Many in the sea of Red Sox jerseys and ball caps took advantage of the fact that the parade coincided with Halloween.

    Young children dressed up as comic book and Disney characters, 20-somethings from the city's numerous colleges sported full-body panda and dinosaur outfits, and fans took selfies with a doppelganger of pro wrestler Hulk Hogan roaming the crowd.

    "It's been nothing but love. We're out here having a good time. We're turnt up," said Jarrick Fidalgo, a New Bedford, Massachusetts, native with his face painted in the diabolical red, white and black of the Joker from "Batman."

    But it wasn't all carefree fun. Team manager Alex Cora, one of the team's four World Series trophies and a bystander were among those hit by errant beer cans. Cora and the trophy were barely scathed, but the bystander was urged to get treatment for a gash on her nose, The Boston Globe reported.

    Patrick Connolly, a 19-year-old from Sandwich, Massachusetts, was charged with assault and disorderly conduct for allegedly hitting Cora with an unopened beer.

    Connolly told the arresting officers, according to the Globe: "I love Cora. I didn't mean to hit him."

    Police Commissioner William Gross said there were five other parade-related arrests, including a 17-year-old charged with illegal firearm and drug possession.

    Security was tight along the route, which took the team past the site of the deadly 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

    Public drinking, in theory, was banned, but many fans still liberally swigged from small vials of liquor and cans of beer.

    Throughout the day, spontaneous anti-Yankees chants rang out, a nod to the long-running rivalry between the American League squads.

    Countless Boston-area youths skipped class to take in the parade.

    "I heard there were six people in my history class today. Everyone is here," said Max Colognesi, a 16-year-old from nearby Chestnut Hill who joined friends near the ballpark. "I have a lot of homework when I get back, but it's worth it."

    During a pre-parade ceremony at Fenway, Cora thanked fans for supporting the team as it won a team-record 108 games before beating the New York Yankees, Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers in the playoffs.

    "I've been saying since Day One, this is crazy, this is madness," he said.

    Boston fans learned even more good news Wednesday when pitcher David Price announced before the start of the parade that he planned to stay in Boston, declining a contract option that would have enabled him to become a free agent.

    On Tuesday, the team announced they were exercising their $15 million option for next season to retain another star pitcher, Chris Sale.

    Though some fans were enjoying their first championship parade, many others, like 23-year-old Derek Safford, were veterans.

    The North Attleborough, Massachusetts, resident and his family have attended every parade since 2004, including celebrations of titles for the New England Patriots, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins.

    "I know people had doubts at the start of the season with Cora being a first-time manager, but he really made a family-like atmosphere and brought this team together," Safford said from his prime vantage point on Boylston.

    Bob Gardner traveled up from Newtown, Connecticut, with his wife and their 17-year-old grandson, Andrew. They took in the spectacle from near Fenway.

    "It's an incredible thing because the team itself reflects so many good things -- redemption, pride, teamwork -- especially at this point in our country's history," he said.

    Andrew agreed, saying: "It's just a special team. I'll tell my kids about this team. My grandkids.

    "I'll never forget this moment."


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    The online marijuana hub is spearheaded by the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network of Somerville, Massachusetts.

    SPRINGFIELD -- An online headquarters of marijuana insights, discussions and research is scheduled to launch today by a Somerville industry advocate and consultant.

    "The Cannabis Center of Excellence provides an online platform to connect our community of academics, cannabis industry, healthcare professionals, consumers and patients aiming to advance cannabis research and science," according to

    The website was spearheaded by the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN).

    The site will provide information about research, analysis, consulting, marketing, products and events, the website said.

    Membership tiers are platinum, $500 a month, gold, $250 a month, silver, $75 a month, community advocate, $5 a month, and community partner for free, the website said.

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    Rainfall totals up to three inches are expected.

    Several days of showers are in store for Massachusetts this week with storms in the forecast through Saturday. 

    "A period of heavy rain and scattered storms is likely late tonight into Friday with a second round Friday evening-Saturday morning," the National Weather Service said. 

    Rainfall totals between one to two inches are expected for most communities across the state, with some communities in Western Massachusetts expected to see up to three inches. 

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    Using surveillance video, police traced the vehicle to Hernandez and his girlfriend and later found packets of "Emergency Exit" heroin while searching it, the report said.

    CHICOPEE - A Holyoke man is being held for a dangerousness hearing after allegedly firing as many as six shots  at a group of men standing outside an apartment in Chicopee.

    Edwin K. Hernandez, 20, pleaded not guilty Oct. 26 in Chicopee District Court to eight charges, including four counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, possession of a firearm without an FID card and possession of heroin with intent to distribute.

    At a prosecutor's request, Judge Bethzaida Sanabria-Vega ordered Hernandez held without right to bail for a hearing Friday to determine if he poses too great a threat to the alleged victims or the public to be released on bail.

    The charges date to April 7 when Hernandez, his girlfriend and another male confronted the victims outside an apartment on Eastern Drive.

    Her two companions, the girlfriend explained, were there to fight one of the men and she threatened to shoot the others if they intervened. The ensuing fight was broken up when police arrived, according to the arrest report.

    About 30 minutes later, the the three men were standing outside the apartment when Hernandez and his girlfriend drove by in a late model Honda, according to the arrest report.

    The girlfriend, who is a juvenile, allegedly pointed her finger at the men and mimicked shooting them. Moments later, Hernandez stepped from the vehicle and fired five or six real-life rounds as the men scattered to avoid being hit, the report said.

    Nobody was injured, and the alleged shooter jumped back into the car and fled. Both Hernandez and his girlfriend later gave misleading statements to police when questioned, the report said.

    Using surveillance video from a nearby car wash, police traced the vehicle to Hernandez and his girlfriend and later found packets of "Emergency Exit" heroin while searching it, the report said.

    A complaint was issued against Hernandez on Sept. 20, leading to his arraignment last week. C harges have also been filed against his girlfriend in juvenile court, the report said.

    The man who was attacked outside the apartment and Hernandez's girlfriend are defendants in a pending criminal case, according to the report, which also mentions that one of Hernandez's friends allegedly stole money from the girlfriend's family, the report said.

    Under state law, Hernandez can be held for 120 days if a judge finds that he poses too great a danger to be granted pretrial release. When the order expires, prosecutors can seek to renew it for another 120 days.

    Defense lawyers typically argue that standard bail conditions, such as home detention or GPS monitoring, will address any security concerns.

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    The majority of Massachusetts voters are opposed to a state ballot measure that would limit the number of patients assigned to nurses, according to a new poll.

    The majority of Massachusetts voters are opposed to a state ballot measure that would limit the number of patients assigned to nurses, according to a new poll by WBUR.

    A "yes" vote on Question 1 will limit how many patients are assigned to an individual nurse in an acute care hospital. A "no" vote will let things remain as they are, giving nurses and hospital staff the ability to decide how many patients to take on. 

    While previous polls showed the "yes" and "no" votes to be nearly split, or the "yes" vote in the lead, the latest WBUR poll shared Wednesday found that 58 percent of voters said they will vote against Question 1. 

    Question 1: Why nurses don't all agree on Massachusetts ballot question over staffing

    Patient limits are supported by the Massachusetts Nursing Association, the state's largest nursing union with 23,000 members, who say the new regulations would improve patient care and safety. But the proposal is strongly opposed by hospitals, who say patient quotas would force them to hire more nurses, decrease flexibility and greatly increase medical costs. 

    A Ballot Question Committee report shows the "yes" side has spent close to $10.4 million on their campaign, while the "no" side has spent nearly $17.6 million.

    The WBUR poll also showed a vast majority of Mass. voters support Question 2, which would create "a citizens commission to consider and recommend potential amendments" to limit the influence of money in elections, and Question 3, which would preserve current law prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity in places of public accommodation. 

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    "It needs to be said: His role was rooted in a racist stereotype," defense lawyer Elaine Pourinski added.

    NORTHAMPTON -- They had masks, guns, knives, bats, bulletproof vests, night-vision goggles and one especially menacing military-style hatchet.

    But before breaking into an Amherst drug dealer's apartment and robbing him, the defendants wanted something else to guarantee their success.  

    "They wanted a scary black man from Springfield," defense lawyer Elaine Pourinski explained last week in Hampshire Superior Court.

    Her client, Warrens Gelin, 23, of Springfield, had just pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and six other charges from the botched home invasion on Oct. 30, 2016.

    The alleged organizer, Patrick Bemben, 26, of Hadley, and five others are awaiting trial for roles in a robbery conducted with the gear, if not the skill, of a military operation.

    In a plea agreement, Gelin was sentenced to four to five years in prison, followed by two years of probation.

    First Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Steven Gagne said the sentence reflected Gelin's age, limited criminal record and circumscribed role in the robbery.

    "He was the muscle, the intimidator," Gagne said.

    When the robbery began, he was carrying a .40-caliber firearm and wearing a bulletproof vest. By the time police arrived, one victim was bleeding profusely from being pistol whipped and another's arm had been "filleted" by the hatchet, exposing bone and tendons and leaving him with lingering nerve damage, the prosecutor said.

    "This was a serious, serious offense in which one person was permanently injured," Gagne said. "Four to five years in state prison is significant punishment."

    In summarizing her client's role in the case, Pourinski said Gelin was approached by a third party a few days before the robbery. He didn't know the victims or the defendants, and only learned details of the plan hours before it was carried out, the defense lawyer said.

    "He played a fairly minimal role. They picked him up in Springfield," Pourinski  said.

    "He's young -- young acting, young in many ways," she added.

    He is also black, from Springfield, with a criminal record -- factors the other defendants assumed would make him especially intimidating to the victims, the lawyer said.

    "It needs to be said: His role was rooted in a racist stereotype," Pourinski added.

    Despite serving a two-year sentence as a juvenile, Gelin's adult criminal record has been limited to one conviction and no jail time, Pourinski said.

    And after the planned home invasion turned into a bloody melee outside the house, Gelin ran off with the other defendants, the lawyer said.

    "While running away, he stopped to vomit," she said.

    As part of the plea agreement, Gelin must have no contact with the victims, possess no firearms, avoid illegal drugs and submit to random testing for two years after his release from prison.

    Pourinski, who shared defense duties with attorney Tracy Duncan, said Gelin has worked well with adult role models in the past, and will likely need a mentor after leaving prison. 

    "My hope is that he will do well when he comes out," she said.

    Bemben is due in court for a pretrial hearing on Nov. 20.

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    President Donald Trump shared a racially charged message with his followers on Twitter this week, seeking to connect Democrats to a killer.

    President Donald Trump shared a racially charged message with his followers on Twitter this week, seeking to connect Democrats to a killer.

    The ad features footage of Luis Bracamontes, a Mexican immigrant convicted of killing two California law enforcement officers.  

    "Illegal immigrant, Luis Bracamontes, killed our people!" reads text on the video. "Democrats let him into our country ... Democrats let him stay."

    Bracamontes was deported twice prior to the officers' deaths in 2014. 

    The ad features Bracamontes during his sentencing hearing in April where he expresses no remorse for his crimes, telling the court he hopes to kill again. 

    The 53-second video goes on to show crowds of people pushing down fences before asking the viewer "Who else would Democrats let in?" and ending on the line, "President Donald Trump and Republicans are making America safe again."

    The ad has been called racist and compared to "Willie Horton" ads in support of George H.W. Bush during the in the 1988 presidential election. 

    While serving a life sentence for murder, Horton was given a weekend furlough through a Massachusetts program and did not return. He traveled to Maryland, where he stole a couple's vehicle, rapping a woman and attacking her fiance. 

    Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, who was governor of Massachusetts when Horton was released through the program, was faulted for the attack in the ad. Dukakis did not start the furlough program but supported it. It was abolished in 1988. 


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    From Tokyo and Singapore, to London and Dublin, Google employees say they are fed up with a glaring imbalance in the company's workforce.

    Hundreds of Google engineers and other workers around the world walked off the job Thursday to protest the internet company's lenient treatment of executives accused of sexual misconduct.

    It is the latest expression of a backlash against men's exploitation of female subordinates in a business, entertainment and politics. In Silicon Valley, women also are becoming fed up with the male-dominated composition of the technology industry's workforce -- a glaring imbalance that critics say fosters unsavory behavior akin to a college fraternity house.

    Employees were seen staging walkouts at offices from Tokyo and Singapore to London and Dublin.

    The Google protest, billed "Walkout For Real Change," is unfolding a week after a New York Times story detailed allegations of sexual misconduct about creator of its Android software, Andy Rubin. The report said Rubin received a $90 million severance package in 2014 even though Google concluded the sexual misconduct allegations against him were credible.

    Rubin derided the Times story article as inaccurate and denied the allegations in a tweet .

    The same story also disclosed allegations of sexual misconduct of other executives, including Richard DeVaul, a director at the same Google-affiliated lab that created far-flung projects such as self-driving cars and internet-beaming balloons. DeVaul had remained at the "X'' lab after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced about him a few years ago, but he resigned Tuesday without severance, Google confirmed Wednesday.

    Google CEO Sundar Pichai apologized for the company's "past actions" in an email sent to employees Tuesday. "I understand the anger and disappointment that many of you feel," Pichai wrote. "I feel it as well, and I am fully committed to making progress on an issue that has persisted for far too long in our society. and, yes, here at Google, too."

    The email didn't mention the reported incidents involving Rubin, DeVaul or anyone else, but Pichai didn't dispute anything in the Times story.

    In an email last week, Pichai and Eileen Naughton, Google's executive in charge of personnel issues, sought to reassure workers that the company had cracked down on sexual misconduct since Rubin's departure four years ago.

    Among other things, Pichai and Naughton disclosed that Google had fired 48 employees , including 13 senior managers, for "sexual harassment" in recent years without giving any of them severance packages.

    But Thursday's workout could signal that a significant number of the 94,000 employees working for Google and its corporate parent Alphabet Inc. remained unconvinced the company is doing enough to adhere to Alphabet's own edict urging all employees to "do the right thing ."

    A Silicon Valley congresswoman tweeted her support of the Google walkout using the "metoo" hashtag that has become a battle cry for women fighting sexual misconduct. "Why do they think it's OK to reward perpetrators & further violate victims?" asked Rep. Jackie Speier, who represents an affluent district where many of Google's employees live.

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    The shooting occurred at about 1 a.m. in the area of Kenwood Park.

    SPRINGFIELD - Police are investigating an early morning shooting that left one man injured.

    The shooting occurred at about 1 a.m., Thursday, in the area of Kenwood Park. Officers initially responded to an audio ShotSpotter activation and found a man on Belmont Avenue suffering from a gunshot wound, said Ryan Walsh, police spokesman.

    The victim was brought to Baystate Medical Center by ambulance. His injuries are believed to be non-life threatening, Walsh said.

    Detectives with the Major Crimes unit are investigating the crime, he said.

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