I understand a prosecutor has the absolute discretion in whom to charge with a crime. We see this in the case of a person who some allege was involved in the murder of Brian Halloran, Michael Donovan and John McIntyre. The U.S. attorney refuses to charge that person because it appears a deal has been made with a witness Kevin Weeks. Weeks will testify against Whitey Bulger as long as he need not disclose the identity of and testify against that person. All murderers are equal but some murderers are more equal.
I understand the prosecutor has the total discretion in deciding the type of offense that person will face. John O’Brien who was the Massachusetts Commissioner of Probation didn’t take any money for himself. His crime was that he hired people recommended to him by politicians who controlled his budget and doing that he was able to increase his budget. It’s an unusual crime because you’d think if it were a criminal offense to hire such persons then both the politician and the O’Brien would be involved in a conspiracy and the politician would have to be charged. But no politicians were charged with “recommending” persons for jobs. Only O’Brien was charged for taking their recommendations and hiring the persons.
Which brings me to the some Massachusetts district attoneys. I wrote a while ago about district attorneys being in violation of the federal racketeering law, called the RICO act. I assumed at that time that these were district attorneys from out in the West or down in the South or somewhere up in those Mountain States. A week or so ago I learned that four Massachusetts DAs were also involved in these activities. Given the attitude of the US Attorney in Boston toward public officials in Massachusetts, I wonder whether they are wise to persist in their actions.
As I understand RICO from my study of the case against former Commissioner O’Brien and two of his associates is that a person who is a member of an enterprise that commits any two of specific type crimes within a ten-year period can be charged with racketeering. (The crime in the probation case was O’Brien wrote letters telling applicants they were rejected.) An enterprise consists of members of an association linked closely by a specific common purpose. Where there seems to be instances of fraud, the members must share a common purpose to defraud which seems to be the case here. Like with the probation officers’ case the fraud involves the use of mails.
Here’s what these Massachusetts DAs are doing according to my sources. They are participating with collection agencies (an enterprise) in order to scare people who may have bounced checks. How does the fraud come into play? They are letting the collection agencies use their stationery to deceive the people who receive the letter into thinking the DA is sending the letter. In exchange for committing this deception on an individual, the collection agencies kick back some of the money they recover for the DAs.
Here’s how it works. Eileen Sanchez is shopping at a big box store. She writes out a check for $52.00 for some item. She forgot that she wrote out another check to Joy Lee earlier in the week that pushed her balance down under the $52.00 amount. Eileen committed no crime when she wrote the check. She did not intend to defraud the store. The check bounces.
The big box store notifies Smiley Collection agency. Smiley takes out a piece of DAs stationery and writes to Eileen telling her what the criminal penalties are for larceny by check even though they do not apply to her. Eileen as we know is being deceived.
Eileen believes the DA has her in his sights rather than a collection agency. She thinks she committed a crime. She’s frightened into thinking she might go to jail. That, of course, is the intent of the letter to scare people into paying. Why else would the collection agency want to perpetuate this ruse.
Eileen calls the number given in the letter thinking she is talking to the DAs office. Here’s where it gets real dirty. She is then treated like a criminal. Eileen is no longer able to pay the $52.00. She’s got to pay a lot more. She has to pay a fee to the collection agency and pay a fee to take lessons in financial management which she doesn’t need. Her final costs are well over $250.00 which is in a sense being extorted out of her by her fear of going to jail. One woman who received such a letter said she felt terrorized.
I’d be embarrassed if I were a DA and I was doing this. I don’t think DAs should get involved in an enterprise with collection agencies to extort money from the members of the public. I believed a DA was supposed to protect those people against these type acts. I only have hearsay information on which DAs are doing this but you may want to check with your DA. My concern is to suggest they stop the deceit and to remind them that their actions are even worse than those charged against the three probation officers.
Then again, maybe U.S. Attorney Ortiz won’t be too interested in this. We see how she is trying to take a million dollar motel away from an innocent guy who rented one room each year to people who used it for drug activity of which he had no knowledge. So she may not think there’s anything wrong with deceiving some of the hoi polloi.
In fact it seems there’s sort of a pattern here. It looks like the federal and state prosecutors are ganging up on the little guys and gals to take their money from them. Isn’t that what the Winter Hill Gang used to do?