By Sean Corcoran | Monday, December 19, 2011
Dec. 20, 2011
WOODS HOLE, Mass. — An American soldier facing murder charges for allegedly killing 22-year-old Falmouth resident Sgt. Matthew Gallagher in Iraq this past June testified during a pretrial hearing on Dec. 17 that Gallagher was killed while playing a deadly game of "quick-draw." The hearing took place at Fort Hood in Texas.
Army Sgt. Brent McBride, 25, is accused of shooting Gallagher in the head while trying to see who could draw their 9 mm pistols the fastest.
The Cape Cod Times, which sent a reporter to the hearing, reported that a tearful McBride testified that he held his gun to Gallagher's head and pulled the trigger, after Gallagher first pulled a gun on him as part of a "quick-draw" game the soldiers played.
Other soldiers in the unit testified that Gallagher and McBride were best friends.
Members of Gallagher's family, including his mother Cheryl Ruggiero of North Falmouth, went into the hearing not knowing what had happened to Gallagher.
In an interview just days after the shooting, Ruggiero said Army officials initially told her that Gallagher was killed while clearing a housing unit with a second soldier.
"They told us that he and another soldier were going into a housing unit and shots were fired," Ruggiero said, "and they didn't come out and say he was shot, but that another person called for a medic, and he didn't make it to the hospital, and that he was dead. And that was it."
An Army official will now make a recommendation to the commander of the 1st Calvary Division's 3rd Brigade on whether to move forward with murder charges against McBride.
By WGBH News | Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Dec. 7, 2011
BOSTON — Debbie DiMasi, the wife of disgraced former Mass. House speaker Sal DiMasi, is opening up about her husband’s transition from Beacon Hill to prison. In her first interview since her husband began an eight-year prison sentence, Debbie told WGBH’s Emily Rooney that Sal seemed strong and peaceful when they parted ways.
“In many ways a lot of the stress was gone,” she said. “He looked a little bit better because the past few weeks have been very, very difficult — saying goodbye to people and preparing for the unknown. So he had some peace about him because the anticipation of getting in there was gone. And he’s in a good frame of mind and as strong as you can be, being in that kind of atmosphere.”
By WGBH News & Wires | Friday, December 2, 2011
Dec. 2, 2011
BOSTON — One day after Mass. Attorney General Martha Coakley filed a lawsuit against five major banks, she defended the decision to WGBH News’ Jordan Weinstein.
Federal and state prosecutors from across the country have been negotiating a multi-billion dollar deal with the nation’s leading banks for the past year. That's just too long, Coakley said.
“We just felt that after all this time the banks have not come to the table with an agreement and particularly not an agreement that we think would work for Mass. homeowners,” she said on Dec. 2. Furthermore, “We’ve gotten signals that even if there were to be an agreement there would not be some of the things we thought were really important for Mass.”
When asked whether the lawsuit would derail those national-level negotiations, Coakley said, “I don’t see how that could happen.”
The lawsuit claims that Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and GMAC violated Massachusetts law with "unlawful and deceptive" conduct in the foreclosure process, including unlawful foreclosures, false documentation, robo-signing, and deceptive practices related to loan modifications.
Coakley’s office is seeking “recovery for homeowners that have suffered from the damage the banks have caused,” she said.
On Dec. 2, GMAC announced it would stop purchasing new mortgage loans written by third parties in Massachusetts. GMAC will continue to lend directly to homeowners in Massachusetts. However, most of its business in the state is done through third parties such as community banks, which originate loans and sell them to GMAC.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.
By Phillip Martin | Thursday, December 1, 2011
Dec. 1, 2011
BOSTON — At a packed hearing on the 10th floor of Suffolk Superior Court, lawyers for Occupy Boston argued on constitutional grounds on Dec. 1 for an injunction against the City of Boston to prevent it from acting preemptively to evict the activists camped out in Dewey Square.
The city’s principal witness was fire marshal Bart Shay, who said he was “disturbed about what he saw in the camp.” He described fire hazards that included newspapers and other items stuffed between tents, cigarettes throughout the camp, flammable blue tarps, piles of clothing and the camp library.
The attorney for Occupy Boston — which is represented by the National Lawyers Guild — suggested that the fire marshal had come into the camp twice, on Nov. 14 and 29, with his mind already made up. He also asked whether Shay had ever addressed the Occupy’s General Assembly meetings about the concerns that he expressed in court. Their lead attorney said that the residents had tried to upgrade to winter tents, which are safer, but said that the police prevented them from doing so.
Robbie Lesser, a camper who was in the courtroom, thought that city used concerns over health and safety as a smokescreen and rationale for eviction. He also thought that the city seemed genuinely perplexed about how to communicate with the Occupy movement, saying, “It seems like the city is having a hard time wrapping its mind around this leaderless idea.”
Lesser was referring to the Occupy movement’s practice of decision-making by consensus of all participants during General Assembly meetings.
From the very beginning of the Occupation of Dewey Square, mayor Thomas Menino has expressed agreement with the message of the movement. But he said that the city should be able to exercise the legal prerogative to clear out the tents and campers, if it so desired.
Though the mayor said he has no plans to evict the campers, lawyers for the city presented arguments and witnesses to bolster its case for lifting the injunction that went into effect in mid-November.
Suffolk Superior Court judge Frances McIntyre, however, extended her temporary order of mid-November until she issues a final decision sometime around Dec. 15. The Occupy Movement activists left the courtroom on Thursday chalking up what they believed to be another legal victory, at least in the short run.
By Sarah Birnbaum | Thursday, December 1, 2011
Dec. 1, 2011
Mass. Attorney General Martha Coakley filed a lawsuit on Dec. 1 against five national mortgage lenders, in what could be a setback for broader national negotiations.
Coakley announced the action at a Boston press conference, saying the banks used unlawful and deceptive foreclosure practices.
“This is the first comprehensive lawsuit seeking to attain accountability and real relief for the banks role and their misconduct in the foreclosure crisis,” she said.
The suit was filed in state court against Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Citi and GMAC.
Coalkey didn’t put a dollar figure on the amount the state is seeking but said “I think it will be a lot.”
The lawsuit could be another blow to broader negotiations with banks. Last October, attorneys general from all 50 states banded together to use their combined clout to pressure the banks to make dramatic loan modifications.
However, Coakley said she has lost confidence in the talks, claiming they’re moving too slowly and the banks are not taking responsibility for their actions.
“We always believed that you prepare for the eventuality of litigation. We’ve done that and don’t believe we can wait any longer," she said.
A spokesperson for JP Morgan said in a statement, "We are disappointed that Massachusetts would take this action now when negotiations are ongoing with the attorneys general and the federal government on a broader settlement that could bring immediate relief to Massachusetts borrowers rather than years of contested legal proceedings."
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, who’s in charge of the broader negotiations, said in a statement he’s still optimistic the coalition will settle on terms that will be in the best interests of the people of Massachusetts.
By WGBH News | Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Nov. 30, 2011
BOSTON — Former Mass. Speaker Sal DiMasi started his new life in federal prison on Nov. 30. But what kind of life will it be? WGBH News has been looking into what could be DiMasi's home for the next eight years: the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, Ky.
DiMasi is among 2,200 inmates living in a low-security, dormitory-style environment with often four to eight people in a room. There are no cells or bars and not even many guards: just one officer is assigned to every unit.
In his first days he’ll be oriented and assigned to a case manager who will choose DiMasi’s unit and find a daytime job for him, former federal prosecutor Mark Wohlander told WGBH News’ Jordan Weinstein.
All the inmates have the same routine. DiMasi’s day at his assigned job will start at 7:30 a.m., but not with a power breakfast — the meal ends before the workday starts. Work ends at about 3:30 p.m. At night, it's dinner, relaxation, recreation and perhaps a counseling or education program. Lights go out at 11:00 p.m., later on weekends and holidays.
The prison's public information officer Rose Harless said that twice a day, at 4:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., DiMasi will stand beside his bed for what's called a "stand-up count," when every inmate is counted. Officers check three more times overnight to make sure every inmate is in his bed and alive.
Although DiMasi will mix with mainly low-security inmates, his home is a medical center first and foremost and it also houses high-security inmates with medical conditions. Before becoming a prison, the facility was called the US Narcotics Farm — and it’s where stars such as Billie Holiday, Chet Baker and Zoot Sims came to get clean. The facility is profiled in a book and documentary film.
Why is he there? Wohlander didn’t have access to DiMasi’s records but said the Bureau of Prisons must have identified a medical issue, either physical or psychiatric, that could best be treated at a prison that was also a hospital.
Wohlander added, “The facility’s got a great reputation… it’s one that a lot of people seek to get to.”
In his free time, DiMasi can watch cable TV but only in a shared, central area. He'll have no cell phone or personal computer; to call or email, he must use a prison device. His mail will be screened and visitors will go through a metal detector.
Still, the prison is in the middle of horse country, and though DiMasi won’t likely be galloping through the trees, “The facility’s beautiful,” Wohlander said. “Very candidly, unless you saw the sign out front and then saw the fencing out in front of it you would never think that would be part of the Bureau of Prisons.”