Up on Humboldt Avenue, in a Dorchester neighborhood where many of the streets start with the letter H, there are some marvelous mentors who work with some great kids at the Trotter School, pushing education as a transformative elixir that changes lives and opens doors.
But on some of the streets that surround the Trotter, there are different sorts of mentors, amoral, cynical men who push the gangster lifestyle as they push drugs, recruiting teenagers with promises as slick as any corporate headhunter’s.
The police and prosecutors say 33-year-old Robert “Ribs” Heckstall was one of those men, a streetwise consigliere for the street gang known as H-Block.
“We identify really dangerous people and try to take them off the streets,” Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley was saying, “and he was one of them.”
You see a common criminal. Angela Cavanaugh JD’16 and Joanne Araujo JD’12 see an uncommon opportunity.
The details of the case were sparse, but they told a story that was all too common in Boston Municipal Court. A pair of officers from the Boston Police Department’s Drug Control Unit had watched a 36-year-old man make a furtive transaction. They noticed him fingering something small and approached the man to ask about it, but the man put the object in his mouth. The officers ordered him to give it up, and when he spit out a baggie of suspected heroin, they arrested him on a single charge of drug possession. After a brief court appearance, the defendant would be released on his own recognizance—leaving prosecutor Angela Cavanaugh JD ’16 to decide what would happen next.
Nearly two decades after he became the first defendant in Massachusetts convicted of murder based on DNA evidence, Henry Juan Williams turned to the same forensic testing seeking to prove his innocence.
But DNA results, returned last month, confirmed that Williams was the perpetrator in the 1994 stabbing of 71-year-old Zachariah Johnson, Suffolk County prosecutors announced last week.
“Identifying, correcting, and preventing wrongful convictions is a fundamental part of a prosecutor’s job,” Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said in a statement announcing DNA test results for Williams and two other convicts. “We have one of the most progressive policies in the nation when it comes to post-conviction testing, and we’ve never been afraid to act on that duty.”
A Suffolk prosecutor assigned to Chelsea District Court was honored recently for her community-minded work in and out of the courtroom, District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.
During the 13th Annual Suffolk Awards, held last month at Suffolk University Law School, prosecutors, advocates, civilian investigators, and support staff were honored for their outstanding efforts on behalf of the communities of Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop.
Assistant District Attorney Stacey Pichardo was recognized with the Brian J. Honan Award for Excellence in the Courtroom and Commitment to the Communities We Serve – among the highest honors presented each year, and one that Conley said every prosecutor should aspire to.
BOSTON (CBS) — Whether he’s in court prosecuting a case in Boston or driving a Humvee in Afghanistan, Assistant District Attorney and two-time Bronze Star Medal recipient Brett Walker loves to serve his country.
“I always identified myself as a soldier,” Walker told WBZ-TV. “And the soldier makes me the husband and father and prosecutor I am.” more »
On Monday, Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley released the surveillance video of the Roslindale shooting involving a man suspected of a terrorist plot.
“We’ve agreed to release certain video evidence earlier when it can help illuminate the facts, and when doing so won’t compromise the integrity of the investigation,” Conley told reporters. “Procedurally, we’ve screened it for a limited audience first for a reason: We prioritize accuracy in the interviews of witnesses and involved officers, and we want their accounts to reflect their direct observations.”
He added, “We also want to allow the family of the deceased the opportunity to view the footage at the time of their choosing, not suddenly and without warning on TV.”
The University of Massachusetts Boston is excited to host the annual Basketball for Peace event on April 22. The annual occasion is organized and run by District Attorney Daniel F. Conley and the DA’s office. Basketball for Peace is held for local youth and aims to bring together the community for a fun, competitive day of basketball.
By Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley
The turmoil that gripped Ferguson, Missouri, and so many other cities last year after the fatal shooting of an African-American teenager by a white police officer, and again after a grand jury declined to return indictments in the case, brought unprecedented national attention to police-involved fatalities and the prosecutor’s role in investigating them. In the weeks and months that followed, events in other cities across the country that might once have been considered isolated incidents instead became sequential flashpoints in an ongoing examination of racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
By Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley and Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans
It’s a familiar scene in movies and television: Homicide detectives handcuff a suspect and clear the case. But in many major cities, almost 20 percent of those “cleared” cases are later dismissed and the suspects are never tried or convicted. So how does Boston compare?
In most major cities, homicide investigations are conducted only by police, who make an arrest and hand the case off to the district attorney. Unfortunately, many of these cases are dropped when prosecutors see the evidence is insufficient to bring before a jury. In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice reported recently that 17 percent of “cleared” homicide cases in the nation’s largest counties were dismissed before adjudication. In one major city, the suspects in hundreds of “cleared” cases were never prosecuted, arrested, or even charged. more »
It’s a long way to the top of the John Hancock Tower—61 stories, to be precise—but 200 volunteers are willing to make the trek to the highest point of New England’s tallest building all in the name of charity and public awareness.
On March 29, at 8:30 a.m., Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley and hundreds of others will take it “step-by-step” as they ascend to the tip of the tower during the “Ginormous Climb,” a fundraiser and campaign that calls attention to the victims of child abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Thirty-five Suffolk prosecutors and 164 other brave volunteers will join Conley during the “first-of-its-kind” vertical charity run to raise money for the Children’s Advocacy Center of Suffolk County, or CAC.
More than two dozen pairs of eyes stare out from photographs hanging in the second-floor lobby of the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse in downtown Boston.
These eyes are brave. These eyes are unbreakable. These eyes are strong and proud. These eyes belong to children who have been sexually abused or assaulted. The eyes of some caregivers are there as well.
Each pair of eyes has a name and a story. Each pair of eyes is there because they are not ashamed.
It’s called the “Now You See” exhibit, and it is presented by the office of Suffolk district attorney Daniel F. Conley, Suffolk County Juvenile Court, and the Children’s Advocacy Center of Suffolk County. The goal is simple yet profound: remove the shame from sexual assault and encourage others to come forward.
City leaders hope a new ad campaign going up on Boston’s MBTA transit system will discourage women from carrying and purchasing illegal guns for boyfriends, husbands and other men who can’t legally obtain the firearms.
Operation LIPSTICK – Ladies Involved in Putting a Stop to Inner-City Killings – today kicked off the first ad campaign of its kind in the nation, according to organizers, which encourages women against buying, hiding and carrying the illegal guns that law enforcement officials say often end up being used in crimes.
The ad banners show a woman in handcuffs with the headline, “His Crime, Your Time – Holding his gun can land you in jail.”
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley recounted two recent incidents in which women were caught carrying firearms for male criminals. One involved an 18-year-old woman who was discovered to be in possession of crack cocaine and a semiautomatic gun with 14 rounds of ammunition. Her male companion, 28, had $1,900 in cash, and police believed the gun and drugs to be his.
“He took all the money, she took all the risk,” Conley said.
Police say Tyrone Battle forced a 14-year-old girl into sex trafficking
By Evan Allen, Boston Globe, Feb. 20, 2014
The 14-year-old runaway was at the Dudley Square MBTA station when she met Tyrone Battle. The older man approached her, prosecutors said, and chatted her up. How old was she? What did she do for fun? Did she want to be friends? Battle then took the girl home, where he allegedly raped her at gunpoint.
Battle, 33, is accused of raping the girl during three years and forcing her to work as a prostitute. He is being charged under the state’s new human trafficking law.
“This case involves a runaway whom we believe was coerced into prostitution at the age of 14,” Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said in a statement. “Sadly, it’s not an exception to the rule. It’s an illustration of the rule: the average age of entry into the sex trade is the young teens. This is not a victimless crime.”
New England Center for Investigative Reporting, Feb. 5, 2014
Three men charged with seeking to buy sex from what they thought were prostitutes in Boston have paid $1,000 fines – forking over some of the highest penalties to date for such crimes in the state, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office announced this week.
Suffolk County prosecutors, victim advocates, and others serving Boston’s Back Bay came together this week for a day-long training seminar in Boston that they hope will help interrupt the cycle of domestic violence and identify defendants whose abuse may become lethal, District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.
(CNN) — “Moments like these, terrible as they are, don’t show our weakness; they show our strength.” These words were spoken by Suffolk County, Massachusetts, District Attorney Dan Conley after Monday’s terror attack in Boston.
A day later, signs of that strength are seen in the stories of people — you might call them heroes — who were near the Boston Marathon finish line when two bombs exploded seconds apart.
First-graders at Dorchester’s Marshall Elementary School were all smiles Wednesday morning as Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley paid a visit to the students to read to a class and drop off a few books.
Conley was at the school to help promote more reading at a younger age and encourage the students to do their best in school. more »
Facts are such stubborn things. And the state’s district attorneys have marshalled their facts well in an effort to move a crime bill that has remained in a legislative limbo for far too long.
A deal was struck last fall in which the district attorneys would agree — some of them reluctantly — to changes in current mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug offenses in exchange for tougher laws against habitual offenders and some much needed updating to the state’s wiretap and domestic violence laws.
An omnibus crime bill passed last year by the Senate does much of what the DAs had hoped for. The House bill, passed as the clock ran down in 2011, dealt just with repeat offenders and the conference committee set up to reconcile the two has thus far left a lot of the important reforms in the Senate bill on the cutting room floor. more »
From his post at the scorer’s table at the Kroc Center, Hector Rodriguez had the best view of both then and now.
He worked the scoreboard all day yesterday for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley’s Basketball for Peace Tournament.
He watched the 12- to 17-year-olds from a handful of Greater Boston youth programs – the Bromley-Heath Tenant Management Corporation in Jamaica Plain, the Condon Community Center in South Boston, the Dorchester Youth Collaborative, the Revere Police Athletic League, and the Teen Center at St. Peter’s – get up and down the floor all afternoon. more »
Hub cold-case sleuths are using an index of DNA profiles to break seemingly unbreakable cases from the past and bringing long-denied justice to killers who managed to skirt the law.
“We’ve seen arrests this year in cases dating back decades, and those cases might not have been made without the science that’s part and parcel of our investigative strategy” today, said Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley. more »
BOSTON — The Massachusetts House is considering a bill that would change the way the state prosecutes criminals in the sex trade. The proposal would define the people who manage prostitutes, or “pimps,” as “human traffickers.” It would also impose much stiffer penalties on pimps and the johns who pay for sex.
Some say the law would help put an end to trafficking by making it easier to prosecute those who benefit from prostitution. But others say it would do little to curb the sex trade. more »
Say only “good and nice things” to your classmates.
Make sure people are safe, “even on computers.”
Remember, bullying can be painful.
Such was the simple but wise advice offered yesterday by a Revere first-grader — and first-time author — in his book, “Borias Brainstorms on Bullying.”
“A bully can grab people,” 8-year-old Borias Lake said in an interview, “and make a little child feel painful.”
Borias, dressed in a tan suit and striped tie, shared his thoughts and read his book aloud to his classmates and Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley during a visit by the district attorney to William McKinley School in Revere. The boy dedicated his hand-crayoned book to Phoebe Prince, the South Hadley teen who committed suicide last year after she was targeted by bullies. more »
Massachusetts spends almost twice as much to defend criminals as it does to prosecute them. Why? Because 90 percent of the criminal cases of indigent defendants are handled by private attorneys who bill taxpayers by the hour.
Last year, more than half of these 3,000 private attorneys were paid more than $50,000 by the taxpayers, above and beyond their income from private clients, and some earned as much as $200,000.
When Gov. Deval Patrick proposed reforming the public defender program, the reaction from defense attorneys and their allies came fast and furious. So did a lot of misinformation aimed at preserving this broken, costly system. Patrick’s plan would replace these state-funded private attorneys, known as bar advocates, with 1,000 full-time public defenders and save tens of millions of dollars each year. more »
In January, as the Miami-Dade Police Department announced that it was completing the purchase of a 20-pound surveillance drone, the San Jose Police Department continued beta-testing a video-based crowd-sourcing software program to solve crimes.
Earlier this month, the New York Police Department purchased facial recognition software, and a growing number of police departments across the country have adopted a gunshot detection system called ShotSpotter.
Technology is infiltrating every aspect of the criminal justice system, from the investigation to the prosecution of crimes—even to attempts to predict them.
According to the experts, some of whom appeared at a special panel on “Techno-Crimefighting” at the 6th annual H.F. Guggenheim Symposium on Crime in America at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice this month, these are the technology trends and issues to watch:
Security Cameras + Closed-circuit Television (CCTV)
For Dan Conley, the district attorney of Suffolk County in Massachusetts, video evidence has become de rigueur in the prosecution of most serious street crimes. “In many cases, we find video surveillance helpful,” he says. “It’s a jumping-off point.” more »
Jan. 8, 2010 |
The Boston Foundation Fall/Winter 2009 Newsletter
The Wire and The Word on the Street: StreetSafe Boston in Dialogue
The Word on the Street is a compelling series of programs sponsored by StreetSafe Boston, the Boston Foundation initiative dedicated to curbing youth violence in Boston’s neighborhoods. The goal is to bring together residents, civic and business leaders and funders of StreetSafe Boston to engage in a continuous process of learning about the devastating impact of youth violence on our city—and to discuss strategies for stopping the violence. more »
FOX25, myfoxboston – It’s a story that has rocked the headlines for more than a week now. An immigrant from Nepal working in a Tedeschi’s convenience store in Jamaica Plain was gunned down during a robbery.
Surveillance video showed Surendra Dangol cooperated with the thief, handing over the money and then was shot in cold blood. The suspect is still at large.
Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley joined the FOX25 Morning News with the latest on the investigation. more »
Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley hosted the seventh annual Soccer for Peace tournament last Thursday at Pope John Paul II Park in Dorchester. Approximately 110 youths came out to participate in the world’s most popular game with Suffolk prosecutors, victims’ advocates and area residents.
“This is a chance for youths to hang out with members of the DA’s office outside of the courtroom,” said Tanya Brussa, director of community relations for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.
The idea for the tournament was first sparked during 2002, when there was a rash of violence in the Cape Verdean community in Boston. more »
One day last week, as the Cambridge clamor over a “teachable moment” escalated all the way to the White House, Dan Conley, the Suffolk District Attorney, quietly drove himself to a middle school auditorium on the Dorchester/Mattapan line.
Before an audience of a hundred inner city kids, many of whom were no strangers to random violence and malignant dysfunction, Conley spent the better part of two hours involved in a teachable moment that may well have far more profound consequences than tomorrow night’s overexposed fandango in Washington. more »
Mayor Thomas M. Menino offers this endorsement of Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley: He’s doing “fairly well.”
Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis, with whom Conley once clashed publicly and angrily, says they have learned to get along.
And the rank and file? “I’m not going to sugar-coat it,” said Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association President Thomas J. Nee. “It’s just a professional relationship.”
Seven years after Conley was appointed district attorney by a Republican governor, the moderate Democrat remains a political misfit in a job that has been traditionally inhabited by players in Boston’s notoriously cliquish political club. He maintains few allegiances, carries the baggage of old grudges, and operates largely outside the city’s backslapping political establishment. more »
That the Boston Bar Association would hand out an award to a local lawyer for work righting the injustice of wrongful convictions is hardly a surprise. That the award recipient is not some crusading defense attorney but the region’s top prosecutor makes the event a bit more noteworthy.
Six years after taking office, Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley got the recognition he is due when the bar association presented him with its “Distinguished Public Servant Award” earlier this month for his willingness to reopen cases involving questionable convictions. Under Conley’s lead, the DA’s office has moved to vacate four high-profile convictions and free inmates shown to be wrongly imprisoned.
Prosecutors are supposed to not just blindly pursue convictions but be “ministers of justice,” says bar association president Kathy Weinman. “And in the context of wrongful convictions, Dan Conley and the Suffolk DA’s office have really demonstrated that important role.” more »
SINCE my recent decision to designate State Police homicide detectives to investigate homicides that occur on the MBTA and other state-owned properties, such as Carson Beach, a great deal of misinformation found its way into the public discourse. In the interest of moving forward, it’s important to correct those factual inaccuracies that might undermine confidence in the good work by prosecutors and police in Boston. My decision was made based upon the facts, the law, and the experience and insight I’ve gained during 15 years as a prosecutor.
Under Massachusetts law, it is the district attorney who directs and controls homicide investigations. There is good reason for this: Homicide is the most serious charge that the government can level against a citizen, it is the only crime for which the accused is not entitled to release on bail, and it is the only crime for which the potential punishment includes life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The district attorney must have confidence that the evidence will prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the ultimate crime. more »
Nearly a year after a much-publicized witness-protection fund was made available in Massachusetts, data shows that most prosecutors have yet to take advantage of the fund.
In March 2006, then-Gov. Mitt Romney signed a bill entitled “An Act to Reduce Gang Violence in the Commonwealth,” which contained a provision aimed at protecting critical witnesses and their families from potential dangers caused by their participation in criminal investigations.
During its inaugural year, Romney allocated $1 million for the fund, which provides a range of services, including relocation costs, housing assistance and 24-hour security. more »
Boston’s top law enforcement officials renewed their call this afternoon for the Massachusetts House to pass a bill designed to protect witnesses from intimidation from gang members and others.
They said the legislation, which has been approved by the state Senate, would help them get more violent criminals off the streets, after a year when the city’s homicide count reached a 10-year high of 75.
At a press conference, Police Commissioner Kathleen M. O’Toole and Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley also said that the proportion of murder cases resulting in convictions increased significantly in 2005, to 91 percent. The percentage of homicide cases cleared by suspects being arrested or identified, however, dropped last year below 30 percent — the lowest clearance rate in at least a decade.
O’Toole said she is considering adding officers to the homicide unit. more »
BOSTON POLICE Commissioner Kathleen O’Toole and I recently announced that a man was erroneously convicted of rape in 1991 and wrongfully imprisoned. New evidence conclusively established that he did not commit the crime and should be freed. This was the fourth instance in the last two years in Suffolk County in which individuals were freed from prison because new evidence demonstrated that they were either factually innocent of the crimes for which they had been convicted or because we believed they did not receive a fair trial.
As district attorney, I believe that the act of freeing one innocent person wrongly imprisoned is profoundly more important than all the criminals we arrest, prosecute, and convict. On behalf of the criminal justice system, I have expressed sorrow and regret at what these individuals have lost, but this is not enough. So the Suffolk County prosecutors and I rededicate ourselves to upholding the highest standards of professionalism and integrity to ensure as best we can that the mistakes that happened in the past are not repeated. more »
Suffolk County District Attorney's Office
DA Daniel F. Conley
One Bulfinch Place | Boston MA 02114 | Phone (617) 619-4000