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    US Attorney Andrew Lelling, the top federal prosecutor in Massachusetts, on Wednesday defended the use of enforcement of immigration laws as a faster way to handle opioid trafficking across the Bay State.

    US Attorney Andrew Lelling, the top federal prosecutor in Massachusetts, on Wednesday defended the use of enforcement of immigration laws as a faster way to handle opioid trafficking across the Bay State.

    "Lawrence is a source city for fentanyl and heroin pouring into New Hampshire and Maine," Lelling said. "New Hampshire had the third highest per capita death rate from opioids last year. A lot of that product comes from Lawrence."

    The opioid epidemic kills thousands of people a year and tops the list of his office's priorities, he said. Opioid trafficking cases can be handled faster through enforcement of immigration law and working with federal immigration officials, Lelling added.

    "We will keep hammering away at that city until it stops being a source city for opiods," he said.

    President Donald Trump 'trafficking in pain and divisiveness' by blaming Lawrence for opioid crisis, Mayor Dan Rivera says

    Dominican nationals appear to be responsible for most of the bulk drug trafficking, according to Lelling.

    A traditional drug trafficking investigation could take three to six months, or a year, to build a case, according to Lelling, while immigration law enforcement allows for police and prosecutors to keep drug traffickers off-balance.

    "If you go to Lawrence, what cops there will tell you is that they routinely see young men from New Hampshire, in cars with New Hampshire plates, driving into Lawrence, stopping at a house, buying drugs and leaving. And that's just what happens there," Lelling said.

    "And obviously there's a massive drug problem in New Hampshire and in Maine," he continued. "So if you want to stop Lawrence from being a locus of locus activity... you need to make it uncomfortable. And using the immigration laws is a good way to make it uncomfortable for those drug dealers."

    Massive Lawrence operation feeding drugs to New Hampshire is dismantled with 45 people arrested, 60 pounds of fentanyl seized

    In a roundtable session with reporters in his offices at the Moakley Courthouse in South Boston, Lelling also touted federal cases against the MS-13 gang as a success story for his office.

    In 2016, federal prosecutors counted 30,000 gang members internationally (El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala) and 6,000 in the U.S.

    "We have all but eradicated MS-13 in the Greater Boston area," Lelling said. "We are running out of MS-13 targets. And the MS-13 targets who we have charged, the vast majority have either plead guilty or been convicted at trial."

    MS-13 gang members in Massachusetts had weapons, drugs stashed in 'destroyer house', authorities say

    The federal courthouse in Boston has seen four trials over the last several months involving MS-13 members, resulting in convictions in all cases, according to Lelling.

    The prosecutor said MS-13 was not ever a big factor in bulk opioid trafficking within the region and the gang did not appear to be interested in making money.

    "With MS-13, it's frankly just the violence," Lelling said. "They keep killing people with machetes. So that's what we've been prosecuting them for."


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    The petition was presented to the Town Council Tuesday night and already had more than 100 signatures, giving the town manager a vote of no confidence.

    EAST LONGMEADOW -- A petition for non-renewal of Town Manager Denise Menard's contract has received more than 100 resident signatures in the last few days.

    East Longmeadow resident and developer Jeffrey Bosworth presented the petition during Tuesday night's Town Council meeting. He urged councilors not to give Menard a salary increase, citing "questionable practices" and saying "the town has gained a reputation of not being business-friendly."

    "Under the town manager, numerous employees with positive assets to the town have left abruptly over the past few months," Bosworth said. "We have a lack of confidence in her hiring practices, and she hasn't demonstrated fiscal responsibility when it comes to expending taxpayer dollars."

    He also said Menard demonstrated a "failure to take appropriate action based on complaints filed by residents and business owners in town."

    "Just as a reminder, the Town Council responds to the voters," Bosworth said in closing Tuesday.

    According to the October 23 council meeting minutes, Bosworth and business partner John Mazzarino of Williamsburg, who are applicants for a subdivision on Jeffrey Lane in East Longmeadow, said they were frustrated by the town's slow planning process. They had been working with the town on the project since April and still had not received project approval in October.

    During the October meeting, "Bosworth said the Town had a competent engineer that resigned a little over a year ago, and now the Town has two people running the DPW, neither of which is an engineer," according to the minutes. "He commented that his project has been subject to two peer reviews at his expense, and all peer reviews are being sent to one firm. Mr. Bosworth said his last visit to the Planning Board was continued another week because the peer review company was too overworked to get to his project."

    Under municipal meeting laws, the council doesn't engage in a discussion with speakers who've made public comment, but Councilor Joseph Ford said in a comment to councilors later that it was "not the first time the Council has had feedback about a process taking an exorbitant amount of time" and that "the Council has worked hard on improving the process since the government changed, but work still needs to be done regarding the way the Town does business and provides services to the public in a timely manner."

    Ford also asked Menard to look into ways to decrease the amount of time taken during the planning process.

    During a May performance evaluation, councilors said Menard "has been instrumental in the transition from Selectman/Town Meeting to the Town Manager/Town Council form of government" and "made the transition look easy." Councilors recommended Menard "insure that she responds to constituents, employees, media, and Council in a timely fashion," and that she "keep the Council informed of the known activities and actions of town Boards."

    Menard was hired as interim town manager in August 2016 and was subsequently offered a contract as the first town manager of East Longmeadow that December, with an annual salary of $127,000. 

    According to Clerk of the Council Thomas Florence, Menard received a 3 percent salary increase last year. A subcommittee is putting together a performance evaluation that will be presented to the council at its next meeting Jan. 8. At that time the council could decide on a potential salary increase, which would be retroactive to December.

    Menard's contract would expire at the end of 2019 if not renewed.


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    Police initially received a tip that Brendan Sheils was in possession of a Uzi bump stock weapon and planned to attack Burlington Police.

    BOSTON - A 32-year-old man accused of building a semi-automatic "ghost gun" from parts he ordered pleaded guilty Tuesday to being a felon in possession of ammunition.

    Brendan Sheils, 32, of Burlington, is scheduled for sentencing on March 18. He faces a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine, said Christina DiLorio-Sterling, spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling.

    Acting on a tip that Sheils was in possession of an Uzi bump stock weapon and planned to attack the Burlington Police Department, police investigated and applied for a search warrant. On Feb. 23 they raided his home and recovered the homemade AR-15 style rifle. The gun was loaded with 28 bullets and a total of 30 pieces of ammunition were found in the residence, she said.

    Lelling; Kelly Brady, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Boston Field Division; Woburn Police Chief Robert J. Ferullo Jr.; and Burlington Police Chief Michael Kent worked together on the investigation and arrest, she said.

    U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin presided over the plea in U.S. District Court in Boston. Assistant U.S. Attorney Suzanne Sullivan Jacobus of the Major Crimes Unit is prosecuting the case.


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    Read obituaries from The Republican newspaper in Springfield, Massachusetts.

    Here are the obituaries published Tuesday in The Republican:

    Obituaries from The Republican, Dec. 12, 2018

     

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    Transportation and home heating should be electrified, and the power should be sourced from a clean, modern grid, the plan recommends.

    BOSTON -- After two years of study, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources on Wednesday released its long-awaited plan to achieve a "clean, affordable, and resilient" in-state energy future by 2030.

    The 213-page Comprehensive Energy Plan, or "CEP," takes stock of the state's current situation, models five different policy scenarios, and tries to project consumer costs, reliability, and climate impacts.

    In broad brush strokes, the plan calls for aggressive and technology-based conservation, efficiency, and peak demand reduction -- especially during the winter months, when power plants and home heating compete for a limited supply of natural gas.

    Transportation should be rapidly electrified, as should heating and cooling, through the use of air source heat pumps -- and the electricity should be sourced from a clean grid backed by storage, the report recommends.

    DOER commissioner Judith Judson, in a call with reporters, said that targeted electrification, a clean grid, and reducing energy usage overall "is the combination that results in the lowest emissions, as well as the lowest costs for consumers."

    Tightening up buildings is another piece, Judson remarked. "So we do have recommendations around strengthening building codes in driving additional efficiency in new construction," she said.

    The plan recognizes climate and energy achievements to date, but suggests more work to meet mandated emissions reduction goals and prevent winter price spikes in the power sector. 

    The Baker administration is procuring 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind and around 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydropower; incentives are in place for another 1,600 megawatts of solar, and steps are being taken to pair battery storage with renewables, the report acknowledges.

    Massachusetts struggles with some of the highest energy prices in the U.S., but is also a leader in conservation, energy efficiency, and clean technology, the report notes -- while averring that a large influx of renewable energy would yield consumer savings, and not higher costs.

    The plan contains plenty of data and information. For instance, in 2016, power generation accounted for only 17 percent of the state's total energy use. Transportation accounted for 44 percent, and non-electric thermal another 39 percent. Massachusetts that year consumed more than a quadrillion BTUs of energy.

    When it comes to carbon emissions, the power sector has become cleaner since 1990. On the other hand, emissions from the transportation and thermal sectors have remained relatively constant, with a slight decrease in the thermal sector, a graph within the report shows.

    Mass GHG trendsThe Massachusetts power sector has reduced emissions, while transportation and thermal have remained relatively constant, a CEP graphic shows.  

    The 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act requires that greenhouse gas emissions fall to 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050, and to 25 percent of 1990 levels by 2020. In 2016, the state's high court ordered the administration to create new regulations to ensure compliance with that law.

    Baker that year issued an executive order to establish an integrated climate change strategy. As part of that order, the DOER was told to prepare a comprehensive energy plan. The plan must be updated every five years.

    The 2018 state policy document was prepared with assistance from Synapse Energy Economics and Sustainable Energy Advantage, the document states.



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    Plans for a dollar store in Deerfield hit a roadblock, and the project may be dead. The Deerfield Planning Board voted Tuesday to deny site plan approval to Dollar General for a chain store planned at the corner of Mill Village Road and Routes 5 and 10. Around 50 people attending the meeting applauded the vote, reports the Greenfield...

    Plans for a dollar store in Deerfield hit a roadblock, and the project may be dead.

    The Deerfield Planning Board voted Tuesday to deny site plan approval to Dollar General for a chain store planned at the corner of Mill Village Road and Routes 5 and 10.

    Around 50 people attending the meeting applauded the vote, reports the Greenfield Recorder. Selectman Henry "Kip" Komosa abstained, and every other member voted to reject. Local officials also rejected, 3-3, a stormwater permit.

    Deerfield for Responsible Development, a citizens group against big box stores, offered words of jubilation on its Facebook page.

    "This is democracy in action," the post read. "Proof that a formula box store cannot come into our town and dictate or disregard our concerns, but instead must adhere to our by-laws and must respect our town and the best interests of its residents! Wahoo for responsible development!"

    Lisciotti Development had been contracted by Dollar General to develop the land. An architect for the developer said the building would have "a barn look," the Greenfield paper reports.

    Dollar General has seen 28 years of consecutive growth and planned to open 900 stores nationwide in 2018, according to Business Insider.


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    An investigation is ongoing related to the symbol, along with "educational follow-up" for that and the "N-word" matter

    AMHERST - The appearance of a swastika at the high school last week, coupled with unease about "the use of the N-word in our curriculum" has prompted action by the administration.

    An investigation is ongoing related to the symbol, along with "educational follow-up" for that and the N-word matter.

    "These are all areas in which we need to advance our competencies and practices, including the appropriate curricular use of words and symbols that have been historically used in derogatory ways. We are committed to continuing our growth throughout the District," Superintendent of Schools Michael Morris and Amherst-Pelham Regional High School interim Principal Miki Gromacki jointly wrote a letter to parents and the public school community following last Friday's swastika incident.

    "A student reported an anti-semitic incident at the end of the last period of the day. The incident involved a swastika being put on the back of a student. It was quickly noticed and removed. The targeted student, along with another student who was present, reported it to the teacher who in turn notified the dean and administration. Parents of students that we learned were present were contacted on Friday evening," Morris and Gromacki wrote.

    "Because this information was received at the time of dismissal, we are still in the process of conducting a complete investigation, which we anticipate being completed in the next few days," they wrote.

    "In addition to this specific incident, we were recently informed of a situation involving a classroom conversation around the use of the N-word in our curriculum. This conversation left some students in a state of discomfort," Morris and Gromacki wrote.

    "Our community recognizes that social justice and anti-bias education is an important aspect of our educational priorities; therefore, we are reaching out to community partners including the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) to offer educational follow up. Our school community continually works to develop effective responses regarding all areas of bias including racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, age, language, social class, immigration status, ability/disability, and more."


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    Edward Leroy Arthur, 42, is not wanted by police and it is illegal to harass sex offenders.

    NORTHAMPTON - Police on Wednesday issued a notice to advise residents a new a Level-3 sex offender is residing in the city.

    Edward Leroy Arthur, 42, is considered homeless. He lists his address as living near the bike path in the area of Earle Street, Police Sgt. Victor Caputo said.

    He was convicted in 1991 of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.

    Arthur is white, 5 feet, 9 inches tall, and weighs around 350 pounds. He has brown hair, brown eyes and a beard.

    A Level-3 sex offender is someone who has been previously convicted of a sexually related crime, and who has been determined by the state Sex Offenders Registry board to have a high risk to re-offend.

    Sex offenders who are released are required to register regularly with the local police in the communities where they live and work. Information on Level-3 offenders is regularly publicized by police because the potential danger makes community notification appropriate.

    McClure is not wanted for any crime, and police warn against targeting him for harassment.


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    While many people flooded stores on Black Friday, hovered over laptops on Cyber Monday to buy the latest Sony PlayStation or Apple tablet, others are struggling just to find enough for food and a gift or two.

    SPRINGFIELD -- While many people flooded stores on Black Friday and hovered over laptops on Cyber Monday to buy the latest Sony PlayStation or Apple tablet, others are struggling just to find enough money for food and a gift or two.

    Two area families who are formerly homeless say despite their struggles they are grateful for what they have -- like a roof over their heads, newly found jobs and hope for the future.

    "The need for social services has been high this year," said Social Services Director Danielle LaTaille of the Salvation Army, the agency that registers people for the Toy for Joy program.

    The collaborative program with The Republican and MassLive brings holiday gifts to families in need in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties. The goal is to raise $150,000 by Christmas Eve. Donations can be made online here.

    In an email, LaTaille wrote that, with the influx of Hurricane Maria evacuees from Puerto Rico, there has been increased demand for emergency food pantry, clothing and furniture voucher, and energy assistance programs.

    And when it comes to toys, the need is high, yet donations have been down. More than 1,500 families are registered for Toy for Joy this year, she wrote.

    The Center for Human Development is also seeing more people in need.

    "The state of need becomes more acute around the holidays because families who already have little are trying to make the season special in some way, especially for kids, and because the surrounding social and media environment is so intensely focused on buying and giving presents," John Roberson, vice president of Children and Family Services for CHD, said in a statement.

    "Both kids and parents notice that, and that can be a huge additional stressor," he said.

    Corrine Lavoice has four kids and lives with the father of her fourth child in an apartment in Springfield through CHD's permanent supportive housing program after being homeless for a time. She signed up for Toy for Joy this year.

    She said she and her partner struggled to find work, but have both landed jobs. 

    Lavoice said she lost her previous job because of ongoing court issues involving a former partner, as well as coping with health care needs for her oldest daughter, who is soon to be 16. "My kids come first," she said.

    Now she is working for a cleaning service and her partner empties the oil from kitchens at restaurants and schools. It's not full time and both would like more hours. But, Lavoice said, "I'm grateful to have my job. Work is hard to find." 

    They work back-to-back shifts so one of them is home with their kids. 

    She said the older kids tell her not to worry about presents for them and instead focus on the two youngest, who at 5 and 7 still believe in Santa Claus. 

    "We do the best we can," Lavoice said. "They'll be happy to get a few things."

    Her family caseworker, Dee Canales, said that attitude "is a testament to how (Lavoice is) parenting her children." She said the kids are humble.

    "We're grateful for what we have," Lavoice said. "We have a roof over our head. Heat." And she said, "I keep working hard to make it better."

    Melissa Boyer and her husband Michael have lived in a Chicopee apartment for the last three years after being homeless for a spell.

    She struggled with opioid addiction. She said she started taking opioids for a bad back and then moved on to heroin when she could no longer get a prescription.

    She ended up serving a month's jail time after not showing up to a court appearance, and her husband lost his job trying to help her get healthy. She said he threatened to divorce her if she didn't get clean. She did. 

    But she also had eight strokes and was diagnosed with a seizure disorder, which is impeding her ability to find a job. 

    Her husband, who had been a gravedigger for 18 years, just found work as a landscaper. She's not sure what will happen this winter, although he will be on a plow crew.

    With limited finances, "Christmas has always been hard," Boyer said. In years past, the family would celebrate with gifts once they got their tax refunds. But this year, she said her 4-year-old son Phoenix "knows Christmas is on a certain day" so they will celebrate on that day.

    She said her two other children - 15 and 19 - tell her, "Don't worry about us. Worry about Phoenix." She said Phoenix will see toys on TV and say, "I want that."

    Sometimes seeing others being able to buy gifts for Christmas is hard. "I'm doing the best I can with what I can," she said. "I really, really, want to be working."

    When neither had jobs, they got help from their church -- they are members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. The church helped with rent and heating. They don't judge, she said. 

    She said they get food from a food bank in Worcester where she volunteers. Her church organizes trips there and members pick her up because she can no longer drive.

    While it's not paid work, she said she likes "to help other people. It makes you feel good inside."

    This Christmas, they will do what they can for Phoenix. She and her husband won't exchange presents and she said they are both fine with that.

    This year children signed up for Toy for Joy will receive at least one toy and one book thanks to a collaboration with the Reading Success by 4th Grade initiative of the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation. This is the second year the foundation is ensuring each child receives a new book.

    For the third year in a row, Pride Stores is partnering with Toy for Joy. Pride locations in Western Massachusetts and northern Connecticut will rally its customers in November and December to help contribute to Toy for Joy. Customers can go into any Pride in the area and purchase a $1, $5 or $10 donation card for Toy for Joy.

    To make a contribution to the Toy for Joy fund, write: Toy for Joy, 1860 Main St., Springfield, MA 01101. Contributions may also be dropped off with the coupon which accompanies this story to The Republican, 1860 Main St., Springfield, weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. through noon on Dec. 21.


    Today's Contributions Amount
    From all of us at Hale Financial Planning Group 345
    With gratitude for God's blessings 25
    Merry Christmas and enjoy 10
    Wishing everyone peace, love and joy 25
    In loving memory of the Shea and Bewsee families, JS 50
    In memory of my parents Carmela and Filippo, love Sue 25
    In memory of my parents Helen and Louie, love Buzz 20
    In memory of Victor and Laura Bleau 50
    In loving memory of Billy Bond and Scott Skrzyniarz from their family 25
    Gail 50
    Every child should have a gift at this time of year, Hanukah and Christmas 200
    In memory of Pasha 100
    Joan and Bill 25
    In thanksgiving for all my blessings from Yvette 10
    In memory of two loving parents from Karen 20
    In loving memory of my mother Cecelia and brother Norman from Shirley 30
    Kevin Fitzgerald, watch over your family and friends from above 25
    Tom and Lois 200
    In honor of our 10 year old granddaughter 25
    In thanksgiving for my grandchildren, the fabulous five 20
    In memory of family members who have passed away, Dottie 25
    Sadly missed by his father, brother, sisters and family 25
    Loving memory of my wife Rosina and Cappy, Grandma Goodrich 50
    In memory of my brother Stephen, love Buzz 10
    God bless all children 25
    In loving memory of Frank J Kenney Sr., love Donna 20
    To honor the gift of Cora and Amelia 100
    Hoping children learn the true meaning of Christmas, Holly Dorsey 10
    Merry Christmas baby Izzy 25
    In loving memory of Debby Curry, RIP, love Mom 25
    In memory of Ken Sr 20
    In memory of our loved ones, Boe's of Eastview Heights 175
    Happy Holidays from Mark and Sue 200
    Have a happy day 40
    In memory of Doris Kwisnek and Marilyn Cyr, Merry Christmas 20
    In loving memory of George and Helen Liptak 100
    Frances 50
    In memory of Richard E Mastey, Craig and Darlene Staples 50
    In memory of Carmella Staples, Craig and Darlene Staples 50
    Merry Christmas, love Peggy 25
    Thank you Jesus for prayers answered and those not answered 50
    In memory of my brothers and parents 25
    Quinn and Rowan 100
    For Sandy Rogers and Judy Savas 50
    Merry Christmas George, Charlie and Henry Payne 25
    In memory of Dora who loved Christmas from Stephen 25
    Anonymous 100
    In memory of Sid Harvey from his loving family 25
    In memory of deceased family members from Richard and Ellen 50
    In memory of Barbara Grabiec-Gaskill, sadly missed 50
    In memory of Maurice W Dickey and Marion Melius Dickey "Qwippy Qwee" 150
    In loving memory of Cheryl Ann Levy 25
    In memory of my parents Harry and Alice 25
    Audrey 20
    Merry Christmas and blessings to the children 15
    Merry Christmas from the Sbalbi family 50
    In memory of Tom and Joe, love Priscilla and Jess 20
    Anonymous 25
    From the Donoghue family 250
    Grace 25
    So every child will believe 50
    Merry Christmas Xavier, love Grandma Galvin 25
    Jim and Sally 25
    In memory of Joe Caldwell 50
    Remembering our deceased friends and family members and honoring all who are serving or have served our country, thank you from Dennis and Marie 20
    In appreciation of our three beautiful and healthy grandchildren, Madeleine, Benjamin and Brady, we love you so much, Merry Christmas from Grammy Marie and Grampa Dennis 20
    In loving memory of Joe, Betty and Ronnie Boyer and Joe and Elvira Orlando, love and miss you and always in our hearts from Marie and Dennis 20
    Halina 25
    In memory of James Borgo 10
    To honor our blessings, Jadon, Zoe, Cameron, Violet and Charlie 25
    Merry Christmas to Amber, Betsy and GPS 25
    Anonymous 100
    Anonymous 20
    From the Rakas-Jackson family 100
    Anonymous 25
    In memory of George W Jr. and Phyllis Malone 100
    Mill Valley Snowmobile Club 50
    Paula and Peter 20
    In memory of Francine Hawk from St. Cecilia Parish 100
    In memory of James A Fletcher and Joseph E Marinello from Fletcher Sewer and Drain Inc. 200
    From Brian and Evelyn Randall 300
    In memory of Ruth LaBelle who always remained a child at heart, from the employees of Direct Results 500
       
    RECEIVED $5,240
    TOTAL TO DATE $33,110
    STILL NEEDED $116,890

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    The new charges come 24 months after Kervian was given an 18-month jail sentence for robbing a Chicopee convenience at knifepoint, court records show.

    CHICOPEE - It wasn't a carjacking, Stefen Kervian told police. He was just trying to collect $50 he won playing pool at a bar in Chicopee.

    "Don't listen to him," he said, referring to a man claiming that Kervian had just demanded the keys to his BMW sedan and threatened to stab him with an AIDS-infected needle if he didn't comply, according to the arrest report.

    It was early Monday outside Jeffrey's Corner convenience store in Chicopee. After reviewing videotape from the store, police sided with the motorist and arrested Kervian, who later said he mistook the BMW owner for someone who owed him money.

    Kervian, 28, of South Hadley, was arrested and charged with carjacking, assault and battery, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. 

    He denied the charges Tuesday in Chicopee District Court and was held for a hearing Thursday to determine if he is too dangerous to be released on bail.

    The hearing was requested by Assistant District Attorney James Roux, who filed a motion maintaining that Kervian posed too great a threat to the victim or the public to be granted pretrial release.

    The new charges came 24 months after Kervian was sentenced to 2.5 years at the Hampden County Correctional Center in Ludlow after admitting to using a 10-inch knife to rob a Food Bag convenience store in Chicopee in February 2015.

    He was ordered to serve 18 months behind bars, with the remaining 12 months suspended, followed by three years of probation. He was given credit for 296 days spent in jail awaiting trial, court records show.

    In the new case, Kervian allegedly approached a customer leaving Jeffrey's Corner around 3 a.m. As the customer opened his car door, Kervian forced his way into the vehicle and punched the man several times before threatening to stab him with an AIDS-infected needle, the arrest report said.

    "This is a f------ carjacking," Kervian said, according to the victim's statement to police. The victim jumped out of the front passenger's door and ran into the store to call police. 

    Kervian was walking away from the BMW when a Chicopee police officer pulled into the parking lot. The victim ran outside and yelled, "He tried to carjack me," the report said. 

    The victim, a 20-year-old Easthampton resident, told police he had never seen Kervian before, and had only stopped into the store to buy cigars.


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    A man who was killed in a tree-cutting accident Tuesday has been identified as 38-year-old Thomas Moszynski of Easthampton.

    AMHERST - A man who was killed in a tree-cutting accident Tuesday has been identified as 38-year-old Thomas Moszynski of Easthampton.

    The Northwestern District Attorney's office released Moszynski's name Thursday morning.

    This is a developing story. Additional information will be posted as soon as it is available.


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    The granddaughter of long-time Amherst social and human rights activist Isaac Ben Ezra has been named as the new director of the Amherst Survival Center succeeding Mindy Domb who was elected as state representative in September.

    AMHERST -- K. Lev Ben-Ezra has been named as the new director of the Amherst Survival Center.

    She will succeed Mindy Domb, who was elected as state representative in September.

    Ben-Ezra currently works at the Greenfield-based Community Action Pioneer Valley, where she has been for more than a decade. She is also a granddaughter of the late long-time Amherst social and human rights activist Isaac Ben Ezra, who died in October 2017.

    According to a press release, she developed and implemented leadership and workforce development programs for both youth and adults at Community Action Pioneer Valley. Most recently she served as Director of Youth and Workforce Development, and previously as Director of Youth Programs, according to the release.

     "We're thrilled to have Lev joining us," said Amherst Survival Center Board President Lynn Griesemer. 

    "Lev has the skills, commitment, vision and creativity to sustain the Center's progress and success and lead us to new accomplishments. She has a track record of building bridges and building communities, two efforts that we will need to continue into the next era to ensure the Center's effectiveness and growth," said Ted Parker, board vice president. 

    In a statement, Ben-Ezra said, "I have grown increasingly passionate about the importance of addressing challenges we face at both the individual intervention and systemic change level.

    "I have been impressed for many years by the Amherst Survival Center's commitment to leverage volunteers, donations and advocacy to create inclusive community, starting by meeting people's most basic needs." 

    Ben-Ezra will begin working at the end of January and Jan Eidelson, former board president, will serve as interim executive director.

    Domb had been the director since June of 2013.


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    Demolition of the 117-year-old Holyoke church, built with funds raised by its Polish-immigrant parishioners, continued Thursday. Watch video

    HOLYOKE -- The mournful strains of Bach, as played by Amherst cellist Ignacy Gaydamovich across the street from the former Mater Dolorosa Church on Thursday morning, provided a fitting accompaniment to the baser sounds of a backhoe steadily dismantling the church bit by bit.

    Demolition of the 117-year-old church, closed since 2011 despite the ardent protestations its parishioners, many of whom occupied the church for a year, began Tuesday.

    As of Thursday morning, when Gaydamovich sat down to play on a park bench along Maple Street, the church had been essentially gutted save for its southern wall and, ironically, its landmark steeple.

    The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield argued one of the problems with the building is its steeple, which it said could collapse. That claim has been disputed by other building experts.

    The Polish-born Gaydamovich, while not a parishioner, closely followed the effort to save the church.

    "I came here to mourn this beautiful building that used to be such an important Polish heritage site," Gaydamovich said. "And -- thanks to I think greed -- it is being demolished."

    Gaydamovich braved the biting cold to play Bach's Sarabande Suite No. 1. The piece, he said, is known for its somber tones and is "usually played in situations of a loss."

    Afterwards, Gaydamovich was clearly moved by the moment.

    "I am a little bit emotional," he said. "I kind of feel music has a little more to offer than just art. It has a real human significance."

    A trio of parishioners, who happened upon the brief performance, thanked Gaydamovich for his offering.

    The tiny group of mourners -- the musician and his grateful audience -- quickly disbanded under leaden skies, leaving the backhoe to its work.


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    Crashes included a jackknifed tractor trailer on the northbound side of Interstate 91, between Exits 13 and 14.

     

    SPRINGFIELD - State and local police police, warning of "significant icing" and numerous crashes on Interstate 91 Thursday afternoon, urge motorist to use caution.

    Crashes included a jackknifed tractor trailer on the northbound side of Interstate 91 at Exit 14. The right travel and breakdown lanes have been closed.

    Springfield police are also warning of problems with the weather. More than 40 crashes have been reported in a 90-minute span starting at around 2 p.m., said Ryan Walsh, Springfield police spokesman.

    There are no serious injuries. "Springfield Police are responding across the city, please take it slow in the snow," Walsh said. 

    State police warn of extensive backups on the northbound side of Interstate 91.

    MassHighway is treating the roadway.

    This is a developing story. Additional information will be posted as soon as it is available.


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    Two Massachusetts marijuana shops have been open since Nov. 20 and pulled in more than $7 million in sales.

    Massachusetts regulators on Thursday approved four new retail pot shops, more than doubling the number of that have received sign-offs.

    The companies behind the shops, which will be located in the Berkshires as well as Hudson and Fall River, must still meet several conditions before they can receive a "commence operations" certificate and open their doors to customers.

    Two shops have been open since Nov. 20 and pulled in more than $7 million in sales.

    The first retail pot shops to open east of the Mississippi, Cultivate in Leicester and New England Treatment Access (NETA) have steadily drawn crowds.

    A third retail shop, run by Alternative Therapies Group, is set to open on Saturday, Dec. 15, in Salem. It will be the first such store in eastern Massachusetts.

    Salem marijuana retail store won't take walk-ins, says they're cash-only

    INSA in Easthampton and Pharmacannis in Wareham, while they are in the final stage of approvals, are still waiting to the okay to commence operations.

    The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission approved four stores on Thursday, located in Hudson, Pittsfield, Great Barrington and Fall River.

    Northeast Alternatives Inc. is aiming to open a shop in Fall River while Theory Wellness, Inc. applied to open a retail shop in Great Barrington. Temescal Wellness of Massachusetts Inc. has retail shops planned for Hudson and Pittsfield.

    The commission's votes at a meeting inside the Massachusetts State House brings the total number of retail shops that have received approvals to nine.

    The first Massachusetts marijuana retail shops are finally open; Here's what you should know


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    Starkey in July of 2017 allegedly shot and killed Amanda Glover in the home they shared.

    GREENFIELD -- A Wendell man accused of killing his girlfriend with a 12-gauge shotgun must submit to a DNA swab of his mouth, a Franklin Superior Court judge has ruled.

    Lewis H. Starkey III, 54, appeared in court Wednesday with defense attorney Michael Sheridan, who argued that a buccal swab conducted at the Franklin County jail would violate his client's search and seizure rights, reports the Greenfield Recorder

    Judge John Agostini instead allowed the motion by Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Suhl to procure a DNA sample, and ruled that the swab could be conducted within the courthouse.

    On July 5, 2017, Starkey allegedly shot Amanda Glover, 48, in the home they shared at 179 West St. in Wendell. Starkey then allegedly tried to kill Glover's son, who escaped into the woods. Prosecutors say the suspect then drove to Chicopee and shot and injured an employee at a trucking firm. Starkey was apprehended by Orange police after a five-day manhunt.

    Starkey is scheduled Jan. 3 for a motion hearing, on Feb. 15 for a final pre-trial hearing and his jury trial has been scheduled for April.

    Starkey is awaiting separate trials in Hampden and Franklin counties, but the two trials could be combined, depending upon the admissibility of certain evidence in the Chicopee incident, the Greenfield newspaper reports.

    In Franklin County, Starkey is charged with murder and armed assault with intent to murder. In Hampden County, the charges are armed assault with intent to murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury and assault and battery with a firearm.


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    Jayson Gomez, of State Street, was charged with seven offenses including carrying a loaded firearm, possession of ammunition without a permit and possession of a Class B drug with intent to distribute.

    SPRINGFIELD - Police arrested a 35-year-old man and recovered an unloaded firearm after a traffic stop Wednesday evening in the Old Hill section of the city.

    Jayson Gomez, of State Street, is charged with carrying a loaded firearm, possession of a large capacity feeding device without a license, possession of ammunition without a permit, possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, carrying a firearm on a public way, possession of a Class B drug with the intent to distribute and possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, said Ryan Walsh, Springfield police spokesman.

    Police from the Metro and Street Crimes Unit pulled over a car at about 6:40 p.m. at the intersection of Cedar and Walnut streets during an investigation they were conducting. When the car stopped Gomez, who was a passenger started exiting the car, Walsh said.

    Police demanded to see his hands, instead Gomez went back into the car and closed the door. Police then removed Gomez from the car and examined the backpack he was carrying. Inside they found the gun, 10 hydrocodone pills, four ounces of marijuana, a scale and $878, he said.


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    The employees face maximum sentences of between 20 and 1 year in prison.

    BOSTON - Five people were found guilty Thursday for their roles in manufacturing tainted medications that caused a nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak in 2012 which infected 753 people, killing more than 100.

    The owner of New England Compounding Center and four employees were convicted by a federal jury Thursday in Boston following an eight-week trial. A sixth defendant, Joseph Evanosky, 46, of Westford, was acquitted, said Christina DiLorio-Sterling, spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling.

    Those convicted are:

    • Gene Svirskiy, 37, of Ashland, a former clean room pharmacist, who supervised the production of high-risk heart medications, was convicted of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, 10 counts of mail fraud, and two counts of introduction of adulterated drugs into interstate commerce with intent to defraud or mislead. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
    • Christopher Leary, 34, of Shrewsbury, former a clean room pharmacist, was convicted of three counts of mail fraud, one count of introduction of adulterated drugs into interstate commerce with intent to defraud or mislead, and two counts of introduction of misbranded drugs into interstate commerce. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
    • Sharon Carter, 54, of Hopkinton, former director of operations, was convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States. She faces a maximum sentence of no greater than five years in prison.
    • Alla Stepanets, 38, of Framingham, a former verification pharmacist, was convicted of six counts of introduction of misbranded drugs into interstate commerce. She faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison.
    • Greg Conigliaro, 53, of Southborough, the former owner of the company, was convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

    Judge Richard G. Stearns has scheduled sentencing for the five convicted on different dates between March 14 and 28, DiLorio-Sterling said.

    In 2012, patients in 20 states were diagnosed with a fungal infection after receiving injections of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate manufactured by the company, she said.

    The criminal investigation revealed that the company's pharmacists knowingly made and sold numerous drugs in a similar unsafe manner and in unsanitary conditions in addition to the Methylprednisolone acetate. The pharmacists failed to properly sterilize the drugs, test the drugs for sterility and did not wait for test results before sending drugs to customers, she said.

    They also approved the use of expired drug ingredients and the mislabeling of those drugs to deceive customers. The company also failed to take any action when environmental monitoring repeatedly detected mold and bacteria within the clean rooms, she said.

    "These defendants were professionals who acted recklessly to the extreme detriment of public health," Lelling said in writing. "Over the course of years, the defendants callously disregarded patient health by cutting corners and prioritizing profits over safety. And they got away with it by defrauding federal and state regulators. The result was contaminated, deficient, deadly drugs that never should have been made or distributed. Ultimately, the jury found the defendants' fraudulent conduct wrong and deserving of punishment. I applaud the prosecutors and the investigative team on their dogged determination to bring us another step closer to justice for the victims and their families."

    In June 2017, Barry Cadden, the former owner and head pharmacist for the company, was sentenced to nine years in prison and three years of supervised release after being convicted of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud and introduction of misbranded drugs into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud and mislead. In January 2018, Glenn Chin, NECC's former supervisory pharmacist, was sentenced to eight years in prison and two years of supervised release after being convicted of 77 counts.

    Two remaining defendants, Kathy Chin, and Michelle Thomas, both of Cumberland, R.I., who are former verification pharmacists, are scheduled for trial on March 25, 2019.

    "A key aspect of the FDA's mission is to ensure that drugs are made under high- quality conditions to prevent patient harm due to poorly compounded products," said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. "This episode was a tragic reminder of why compounding and compounded drugs can present serious risks to patients. We've taken significant new steps to ensure the quality of compounded drugs and improve patient safety, in order to prevent another calamity like the episode involving NECC."


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    Daniel Santiago, Emiliano Santiago and Charles Pedroza pleaded guilty to drug charges from raids in Holyoke and Chicopee on Aug. 20, 2016.

    SPRINGFIELD -- Two Holyoke men and a Chicopee man on Thursday pleaded guilty to possession of heroin and cocaine with intent to distribute.

    The two Holyoke brothers will be going to state prison, the Chicopee man to the Hampden County Correctional Center in Ludlow.

    But after impassioned pleas from their lawyers and much questioning from Hampden Superior Court Judge Mark D. Mason, they won't have to start their sentences until after Christmas and the Holyoke men's mother's birthday.

    The men, who were out of bail while their cases were pending, were fitted with GPS monitoring devices Thursday. Mason said they all must be under house arrest. After their lawyers said they wanted to celebrate Christmas together, Mason said he would remove the house arrest requirement for Christmas day only but the men cannot go out of Holyoke that day.

    Emiliano Santiago, 33, of Holyoke, his brother Daniel Santiago, 31, also of Holyoke, and Charles Pedroza, 51, of Chicopee, were arrested in August 2016 after law enforcement agencies investigated drug sales in and around the Holyoke Mini Mart on High Street. At the time, police said the three men were involved with operating and managing the store at 657 High St.

    Authorities seized 5,600 bags of heroin, 41 bags of cocaine, and $19,000 in cash. Raids were conducted at Holyoke Mini Mart, 663 High St.; 116 Sergeant St., Holyoke; and 17 Beston St. in Chicopee.

    Emiliano Santiago was sentenced to three years in state prison, Daniel Santiago got three and one half to four years in state prison and Pedroza got two and one half years in the Ludlow jail.

    The three pleaded guilty from the 2016 bust to possession of heroin with intent to distribute and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, charges reduced from the ones for which they were indicted.

    In a separate case, the brothers Santiago pleaded guilty to distribution of heroin after being arrested Nov. 2, 2016, in Holyoke after setting up a sale with a confidential informant. The sentences they received in this case will run concurrently with the sentences from the Mini Mart case.

    Assistant District Attorney Matthew W. Green said one reason the charges on the Nov. 2, 2016, case were the subject of a plea bargain was because it allowed law enforcement to keep the identity of the informant secret.

    Mason adopted the agreed-upon recommendation from prosecution and defense for all three men.

    Lawyers Vincent A. Bongiorni for Emilio Santiago, Nikolas Andreopoulos for Daniel Santiago and Arthur J. O'Donald III for Pedroza all said the plea negotiations included their willingness to drop a motion to suppress evidence based on the entry into the location where the drugs were found in the August 2016 case.

    Mason said he does not usually stay -- or postpone -- the start of a sentence unless the prosecution agrees to it. Green said he had just heard of the request for the stay Thursday morning and was taking no position on the request.

    Mason told Green he had to take a position -- either opposing it or assenting to it. Green said he would assent to the stay, and that's when Mason approved it.

    The men have to report to court to begin their sentences Jan. 10, after the Jan. 9 birthday of their mother. When Mason questioned why Pedroza needed to be free until Jan. 10, the three defendants said they were all family.

    Each has posted bail in their cases. Their lawyers said they have repeatedly appeared for court appearances over the long amount of time the cases have been in court.

    Emiliano Santiago has posted bail of over $30,000; Daniel Santiago posted $15,000 and Pedroza posted $7,500.

    The men agreed to forfeiture of money found by police in the arrests. For the Holyoke Mini Mart case, the men each forfeited different amounts, adding up to about $19,000.

    Involved in the Aug. 20, 2016, raid on the three addresses were the Holyoke Police Narcotics Unit, the FBI's Western Massachusetts Gang Task Force and Massachusetts State Police Detectives with Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni's office.

    Green said the drugs were found in the 116 Sergeant St. apartment, which had no furniture or clothing but had documents in the name of all three defendants in a box.


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    The Worthington Democrat is retiring after 25 years representing the 1st Franklin District.

    BOSTON -- State Rep. Stephen Kulik has delivered his farewell remarks on Beacon Hill after representing the 1st Franklin District for 25 years.

    Addressing his colleagues at the Statehouse last week, the Worthington Democrat said "it's been an honor and a privilege" to serve the large, rural district and its 19 small towns.

    Kulik, who is retiring, reflected on the legislative needs of such communities. Equity in transportation and education funding, conservation and environmental protection and building the rural economy have been perennial issues, he said.

    Kulik offered thanks all around, cracked a joke about his past presidency of the Massachusetts Municipal Association and said he is grateful to his family -- including his 90-year-old mother, Phyllis Kulik, with whom he often stayed during legislative sessions in Boston.

    Kulik said his wife Suzanne and their two children "stayed by my side in spite of many nights away, weekend obligations and phone calls at dinner time. ... They believed in what I was doing, and enabled me to do it."

    As vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, Kulik thanked House Speaker Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop, for naming him to the budget-writing committee 10 years ago.

    "I can't tell you what it has meant to me, coming from a small town of 1,200 people, to have an opportunity to add my perspective to so many significant initiatives," Kulik said. 

    He gave a shout-out to Sunderland Democrat Natalie Blais, elected as his successor, and expressed confidence in her ability to lead.

    The former Worthington Selectboard member reflected on how things have changed since he was first elected to state office in 1993 -- before the advent of social media.

    "Today, I do miss receiving the thoughtful handwritten letter from a constituent -- which is now often replaced with an impersonal robo-email from a click-and-send website," remarked Kulik.

    Nonetheless, he said he appreciates advances in technology, and on Wednesday, he posted video of his farewell speech to Facebook.

    "Serving as the legislator for the First Franklin for the past 25 years has been one of the greatest honors of my life," Kulik wrote.

    Kulik will serve until Jan. 2, when Blais, who prevailed in a seven-way Democratic primary, will be sworn in.


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