I am anxiously awaiting the decision on Motel Caswell. That case is pending in the Federal District Court of Massachusetts under the name United States v. 434 Main Street, Tewksbury, Massachusetts. It is the case where the federal government is trying to steal a motel from a guy who has had it in the family since the 1950s on the grounds there has been one drug deal in that hotel over each of the last twelve years. Russ Caswell knew nothing about the drug dealings or that the town had a problem with him. The town of Tewskbury and the DEA conspired together to take it from him. The town can get 80% of its value which is estimated around 1.5 million and buy new police cars or even get one of those armored SWAT vehicles. Russ in his 60s who was working his butt off trying to make ends meet will lose his livelihood and retirement. I wrote about this before here.
The Annie Dookhan saga continues with felons being released from prison and the prosecutors, investigators, courts, and defenders demanding more money to do their jobs. It has sort of faded into the background other than seeing the AG has indicted Annie Dookhan for 17 counts of obstruction of justice and ten other charges including perjury. Her lawyer complained her 6 pm curfew was interfering with her social life so it was extended until 10:00 p.m. Annie’s thoughtless, selfish and stupid actions are going to cost that tax payer well into the hundred of millions of dollars. The case is scheduled for a conference in February.
This is a difficult case to handle as a prosecutor. Annie will not want to go to trial so she’ll be looking to wrap it up with a plea. How do you decide what is an appropriate punishment so you can begin plea negotiations? The AG will probably have to ask for the maximum amount of jail time which would be something like eight to ten years; defense counsel won’t be able to go along with that especially since his client is worried about her social life which will really take a beating if she’s sent to prison. I’m glad I don’t have to decide on it. I’d feel I was punishing stupidity and naiveté. No one is being deterred by anything done to Annie because no one could quite conceive of the same inane plan again.
Speaking of the AG, she’s going to have to decide quickly about the Tim Cahill matter I’m sure if Cahill’s lawyers are on the ball they’re going to be pushing for a speedy trial. I don’t know how the jury split in its decision. I’m sure the AG knows that by now. If there were more than six for an acquittal, then she’d best throw in the towel. The case smells too political for a clean-cut victory. My advice, for what it is worth, let it go. Five weeks of trial spent on a minor felony that probably should never have been made into a crime is enough punishment for anyone.
While waiting for Whitey to get up to bat in June, we’ll probably be treated to the case against three probation officers John J. O’Brien, Elizabeth V. Taveres, and William H. Burke, III. According to the Globe U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said: this ““is just one step’’ in the ongoing investigation into a criminal justice agency that allegedly was run like a criminal enterprise.” These people who were charged with racketeering “gave jobs to friends and allies of legislators” in order to “to aggrandize power to themselves” and to increase the agency’s budget, among other things.” They weren’t doing anything for themselves. They put no money in their pockets or any of their friends in jobs. They were simply not alienating legislators in order to get more money for their probation department so it could operate more efficiently and perhaps give people raises.
Using the rationale under which these guys were indicted, every department head looking to do a better job and hiring more people and paying the a decent pay is aggrandizing power to himself or herself. No wonder we had the Annie Dookhan scandal. Her department head, “The Buck Stops With Me” Auerbach, who quickly cut and ran when he realized the extent of the scandal, was trimming the staff fearful of being accused by the feds of “aggrandizing power to himself.”
The probation officers were engaging in patronage which happens to be the life blood of a democracy but under US Attorney Ortiz it has become racketeering. I don’t see how she can stand with a straight face and say no one on her staff got a job because of a connection. It would seem to me that if these probation officers were engaged in racketeering then all the judges and legislators who put the arm on them to get their friends jobs should be indicted along with them.