Recently in Robbery Category

August 20, 2014

SJC Reverses Conviction Based on Improper DNA Evidence Testimony

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) recently reversed a defendant's conviction and remanded the case for a new trial due to the improper admission of expert testimony regarding DNA evidence. The SJC concluded that an opinion regarding the results of DNA testing is admissible only where the defendant has a meaningful opportunity to cross-examine the expert witness about the reliability of the underlying data produced by such testing.

In Commonwealth v. Tassone, a superior court jury convicted the defendant of unarmed robbery and assault and battery. The defendant had been arrested in connection with the robbery of a small variety store in Pittsfield, MA. The defendant was the allegedly the only customer in the store at the time of the robbery. It was alleged that the defendant went to the counter to purchase an item, and when the store manager opened the register door, the defendant reached into the register to take the money. A fight ensued, ending with the manager on the floor and the defendant fleeing with $350. When police arrived at the scene, they recovered a pair of eyeglasses on the floor that did not belong to the store manager.

Continue reading "SJC Reverses Conviction Based on Improper DNA Evidence Testimony" »

February 17, 2014

Improper Procedure for Discharge of Deliberating Juror Results in Reversal of Guilty Verdict

Last week, the Massachusetts Appeals Court issued an opinion in Commonwealth v. Garcia that reversed a jury's guilty verdict on the grounds that the judge did not follow appropriate procedures in discharging a juror during deliberations.

The defendant was charged with armed robbery, and the case was tried in superior court. About approximately three hours of deliberating, the jury sent a note to the judge, stating that they had not been able to come to a unanimous decision. The judge did not believe that the jury had deliberated long enough to show a deadlock, and instructed the jury to resume deliberations the following day.

Continue reading "Improper Procedure for Discharge of Deliberating Juror Results in Reversal of Guilty Verdict" »

August 2, 2013

Robbery Attempt in Lowell Fails Miserably

A Lowell man, Brian Cuneen, and his partner in crime, John Hickey, have been accused of attempting to rob a convenience store in Manchester, New Hampshire. Authorities who were on the scene said that the crime did not go as planned.

The defendants entered the store, and held up what looked like a handgun before demanding money from the female clerk who was working the cash register. The clerk did not believe it was a real gun, and refused to hand over any money. The suspect then lunged at her over the counter a few times. At this point, a customer entered the store and proceeded to call the police from a cell phone. Empty-handed, the defendants left the store without the money and ran a few blocks into a waiting vehicle, later identified as a Dodge Intrepid with Massachusetts plates. Witnesses from the scene were not sure who was driving the vehicle.

Another witness from the scene, who also called the police, decided to follow the vehicle on the highway. The witness provided the police with updates on the vehicle's location, and also with a visual description of the vehicle. Because of this, the police were able to catch up with the car after the driver paid a cash toll in Bedford, New Hampshire. Both men were arrested at gunpoint.

The defendant was in the car, along with a six-year-old girl and her mother, who were in the back seat.

At this time, the defendants were arrested. One of the defendants (John Hickey) was charged with armed robbery, while the other (Brian Cunneen)was charged with criminal liability to armed robbery according to a statement issued by the Manchester Police Department. Both of the men are currently in custody, and scheduled to appear in Manchester District Court for their arraignments.

Currently, the police do not have the weapon used in the robbery. However, the suspect was seen by witnesses leaving the store holding the gun and entering the vehicle. The vehicle has since been impounded, and police are in the process of getting a search warrant so that they can look for the weapon.

UPDATE: Cunneen is being held on $50,000 cash bail, while Hickey is being held on $10,000 cash bail. Both of the men are next set to appear in court for probable cause hearings. Cunneen's hearing will be held on August 12th, while Hickey's will be held on August 8th.

March 26, 2013

Court of Appeals Holds Judge Erred In Relying On A Robbery Guideline In Sentencing A Defendant Found Guilty Of Bank Burglary

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a District Court judge erred when he relied on a robbery guideline in sentencing a defendant found guilty of burglarizing a bank. United States v. Almeida.

Daniel Almeida was convicted of bank robbery. For sentencing, a probation officer prepared a pre-sentence report, or PSR, which gave the sentencing guideline for robbery a base offense level of 20. U.S.S.G. §2B3.1. Pursuant to that guideline, the PSR recommended enhancements for taking the property of a financial institution (two levels), brandishing a weapon (three levels), abducting a person to facilitate the offense (four levels), and taking more than $250,000 but less than $800,000.

The defendant argued this guideline was inappropriate because he was convicted of burglary, not robbery, which required only entry into the bank and not violence or intimidation. The guideline for burglary had different and lesser enhancements.

The government argued that the judge had the leeway to apply a guideline "that most closely captured the defendant's conduct" based on the evidence presented regardless of what the defendant was convicted of. The judge then determined that the appropriate guideline was §2B3.1, the robbery guideline, "because, based upon the evidence as the Court heard it" a robbery, and not just a burglary, had occurred. This resulted in a total offense level of 32, and a guideline range of 151 to 188 months. Almedia was sentenced to 151 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

The Court of Appeals noted that while there was evidence presented that Almeida robbed, and not just burglarized the bank, the language in "the indictment did not allege the use of force, violence, or intimidation, [i]nstead, the language of the indictment's sole count closely tracked that of subsection 2113(a)'s bank burglary prong, alleging that Almeida 'did enter and attempt to enter a bank, to wit, the East Cambridge Savings Bank ... with intent to commit in such bank a felony affecting such bank in violation of a statute of the United States and a larceny.'"

Case remanded for resentencing.

If you or a family member has been charged with criminal activity, please contact Parker | Scheer LLP for a free consultation with one of our experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers.

March 18, 2013

Misleading Parole Officer Leads to Another Criminal Conviction for a Defendant

Because he misled his parole officer regarding his whereabouts, a defendant failed to comply with parole conditions and opened himself to being convicted under G.L.c. 268, §13B, according to the Supreme Judicial Court. Commonwealth v. Luis Figueroa
In October, 2007, Luis Figueroa was paroled after serving time for armed robbery. At the time, Figueroa was also on probation for his conviction of rape of a child. According to his parole conditions, Figueroa could not be present in any area where children under the age of 18 congregated, and had to tell his parole officer if he became involved with someone with children. Additionally, Figueroa had to wear a global positioning system (GPS) monitoring unit and keep a calendar of where he went each day.

On October 29, 2007, Figueroa's parole officer, Kathryn Kozak, informed him that he was not to leave his home in Marlborough after 6 pm on Halloween night, October 31, 2007. He also was not to participate in any Halloween activities. When Kozak later checked Figueroa's GPS location, she determined he was in Framingham after 6 pm. Though Figueroa said he was at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, the GPS also refuted this.

Figueroa was placed in custody on a fifteen-day parole detainer. Thereafter, after his parole was revoked and his probation terminated, Figueroa was indicted for misleading a parole officer with the intent to obstruct a criminal proceeding, in violation of G.L. c. 268, § 13B; and for being a habitual criminal, in violation of G.L. c. 279, § 25. At trial, the evidence showed Figueroa had failed to tell Kozak he was involved with a single mother with four young children. Figueroa was found guilty of both charges and appealed arguing that G.L. c. 268, § 13B only applied when the parolee misled a parole officer to obstruct a "criminal proceeding of any type, which was not present here.

The Supreme Judicial Court upheld the conviction and ruled that a parole officer's investigation into a potential violation of the conditions of a defendant's parole constitutes a 'criminal proceeding of any type' within the meaning of the statute. "Because the statute before its 2006 revision already protected any "witness or juror," we conclude that the specific inclusion of parole officers and those with information regarding a parole violation as protected classes of victims was intended to do more than protect these individuals as potentially testifying witnesses at a parole revocation hearing or a criminal trial."

If you or a family member has been charged with criminal activity, please contact Parker | Scheer LLP for a free consultation with one of our experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers.

May 24, 2012

Dorchester Woman Charged in One of a Series of Bank Robberies

According to a statement by FBI officials, a 46 year old Dorchester woman has been charged in a bank robbery that is reportedly part of a series of heists that federal and state authorities had called on the public's help to solve.

The woman was arrested by members of the FBI's Violent Crimes Task Force during a car stop in Danvers, Massachusetts, thanks to the help of public tipsters. The woman is charged with the unarmed robbery of a Sovereign Bank on Boylston Street on April 13th.

Police and FBI have asked the public for help with this string of hold-ups, including "the April 21 robbery of a Dorchester Sovereign Bank and robberies on Friday at a Citizens Bank in Dorchester, a Jamaica Plain Mount Washington Bank and the Members Credit Union in Dorchester." The FBI put out a statement that said, "this investigation and many others demonstrate the public is always law enforcement's best ally to prevent, detect, and deter crime."

The full article can be seen here.

Continue reading "Dorchester Woman Charged in One of a Series of Bank Robberies " »

May 10, 2012

Brockton Police Officer Caught in Sting

In a sting operation that was being monitored by cameras, a Brockton police officer was caught and arrested on charges of shaking down an undercover police officer. The officer, who has worked on the force for 24 years, was charged with two counts of larceny from a person.

According to reports, law officials stated in March that the officer was captured on a security camera taking money from an unidentified victim. The police report officially stated that, "at this time several similar incidents have been noted to have taken place between the March incident and the date of this report, which are under review with the intention of charges to follow."

The officer's defense attorney, a 1977 graduate of Brockton High School, said "this is a very serious allegation ... He's very appreciative of the support from his friends and family and by his fellow police officers, many of whom have reached out to him to say he enjoys their complete support."

The full article can be seen here.

Continue reading "Brockton Police Officer Caught in Sting" »

May 4, 2012

Men Suspected of Stabbing Cab Driver in Boston

Two men are being held on $10,000 bail after allegedly stabbing a cab driver near Washington and Lenox Streets in the South End after a failed robbery attempt. The men are being charged with armed assault with intent to rob, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and unlawfully carrying a dangerous weapon.

Boston Police reported that the cab driver, 50, of Lynn, sustained life-threatening injuries after being stabbed several times following the failed robbery attempt. Police arrived to the scene around 1:22 a.m., after receiving a distress report of the stabbing.

The driver was rushed to Boston Medical Center as Boston Police attempted to track down the suspects. Police were able to quickly locate one of the suspects who had blood on his hands and face and was carrying a knife. The suspect then gave police a description of his accomplice who was then taken into custody.

To read the full article, click here.

Continue reading "Men Suspected of Stabbing Cab Driver in Boston" »

March 21, 2012

Police Save Two from Home Invasion

According to Brockton Police, officers were called to a home invasion late Friday night involving two armed men threatening a family. Officers burst into the house and arrested the two armed men. Brockton Police received a call around midnight from a girl who stated that she was hiding in a closet while her brother and grandmother were being tied up.

Reports indicated that one of the robbers had hit a family member with a gun and held a knife to a woman's throat. The robbery took place at a home on Claremont Avenue, and police could see someone inside the house running around as a man attempted to escape out a window.

On the scene, police recovered a .40 caliber handgun and a backpack with a ski mask and small pry bar in it. Both men, 26 and 22, from Brockton, were arrested on the scene and charged with armed home invasion, two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault with a dangerous weapon, unlawful carrying of a firearm, and kidnapping while armed.

The full article can be seen here.

Continue reading "Police Save Two from Home Invasion " »

January 11, 2012

Armed home invasion in Newton MA

According to police in Newton, the search is on for two suspects who were involved in an armed home invasion on Monday. The Police Department arrived on the scene after hearing reports of an armed home invasion on Harvey Place in West Newton around 11:45 p.m.

After officers arrived, they discovered two females and a male in their 20's outside their home after the apparent robbery. At this point, the residents did not know if the suspects were still inside, but when police entered the home they did not find anyone.

According to the victim's statement, they heard banging and seconds later two masked men ran through the home, one carrying a semi-automatic handgun. The suspects ordered two of the residents to the ground and bound their hands, and then the third victim was taken through the house and then bound. The preliminary investigation has led police to believe that the invasion was not a random attack.

The full article can be seen here.

Continue reading "Armed home invasion in Newton MA" »

June 15, 2011

Lynn Home Invasion Leads to Shoot Out

Two suspects were shot by Lynn Police after one of them opened fire during a standoff with the police, reports the Essex District Attorney's office. According to Lynn Police, they responded to a Wayne Street house after a call about an armed home invasion around 6:35 p.m. When the police arrived they found three men who had barricaded themselves inside the home.

During the standoff, one of the men, Randall McClain, 29, of Lynn, was shot in the arm after he shot at police from a second floor window. The district attorney reported that McClain then surrendered and was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital for surgery.

The second suspect, Sokhannara Chea, 22, of Lynn, brandished a semi-automatic weapon from the home's front porch as police negotiators asked him to surrender. Around 11:30, Chea fired on officers who returned fire. Chea was then taken to Salem Hospital for surgery and was listed in critical but stable condition. The third suspect, Butchay Chourb, 22, of Lynn, who was not injured, pleaded not guilty to armed home invasion and was being held on $100,000 cash bail.

The full article is featured here.

Continue reading "Lynn Home Invasion Leads to Shoot Out" »

May 25, 2011

Man Executed Robberies with Young Son Along

Police have arrested a Bridgewater man for breaking into a church with his 11 year old son as a supposed accomplice. Police are also reporting that the church was not their first break in. Michael Varano, 52, reportedly broke into the St. Thomas Aquinas Church on Center Street this weekend in Bridgewater.

Bridgewater authorities caught Varano and his son leaving the rear door of the church with food in their hands. Witnesses also spotted the two going through the church late Friday night with flashlights in hand.

This is not the first reported criminal activity for Varano, who was caught breaking into more than 15 homes with his 4 year old daughter in April of this year. Father Joe Raeke of St. Aquinas Parish said that he was confused because "he doesn't understand why Varano would steal something that the church could have given him for free." Varano faces 50 different charges for various crimes in Massachusetts and bringing his children along. His 11 year old son will also be arraigned in juvenile court.

The full article is featured here.

Continue reading "Man Executed Robberies with Young Son Along" »

May 20, 2011

MBTA Employee Tackles Armed Robber

An MBTA employee tackled an armed robbery suspect in an East Boston Blue Line station, and held him down until police could arrive and make the arrest. Surveillance video in the blue line Maverick Station captured the scene in which a MBTA inspector tackled a man who had allegedly taken a woman's purse. The inspector, Ira Lawrence, was at his usual booth when he witnessed the crime and ran after the offender.

Lawrence said that, "the lady was facing toward the platform waiting for the train and he was standing behind her about 15 feet away, and as the train came in he walked up and went over and grabbed the purse. I ran after him and tackled him to the ground and called for the police." Lawrence, who is 6 foot 4 and weighs 280 pounds, held the suspect for 5 or 10 minutes until police arrived.

Boston police reported the suspect is Sean Snellman,32, and was accompanied by Brittney Grisolia, 20. Both Snellman and Grisolia were arrested and taken out of the station in handcuffs. The Boston police also reported that both suspects were armed with knives.

The full article can be seen here.

Continue reading "MBTA Employee Tackles Armed Robber" »

May 2, 2011

Disabled Person Robbed at Green Line Station

A Boston man was arrested after he robbed a disabled man, 67, at a Green line station. Boston police reported that Ledonte Fisher, a Boston native, is responsible for the incident. The MBTA station robbery took place at the Arlington Street Station. Transit police officers responded to the Green line station after reports that a robbery suspect was waiting on a train just outside of the platform.

The victim, who is legally blind, was holding out a paper cup at the station and singing for change. He had a universal white cane with him and was wearing dark glasses, normally associated with the visually impaired. A customer service agent working with the MBTA witnessed the robbery from inside her post and reported it.

According to MBTA officials, Fisher passed through the Arlington Street Station without paying and then proceeded to rob the victim. Fisher has since been charged with unarmed robbery of a person over the age of 60, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and fare evasion. These crimes are unusual for the Arlington Street Station. According to the MBTA over the past year there has only been one other reported robbery at the station.

The full article can be seen here.

Continue reading "Disabled Person Robbed at Green Line Station" »

February 23, 2011

Billerica Shooting Surprises Statistically Safe Town

The town of Billerica MA is a very safe town in which violent crime is over 85 percent below the national average. Last year, according to the City data crime index, Billerica MA had no murders reported and only 4 robberies. In fact since 2001 there has only been 1 murder reported and only around 20 robberies.

These statistics make the shooting in a home invasion on February 20 in Billerica all the more surprising. Police have identified the victim as 49 year old Robert Carter who lives at 45 Oak Street in Billerica MA. According to police reports there were three assailants who invaded Carter's home and who then fled on foot after the shooting. Carter is currently in critical condition at a local hospital.

Police are still looking for a motive in the shooting but they have stated that they do not feel that it was a random crime. A neighbor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that "there had been robberies on the block before but not for a number of years." The neighbor went on to say that "the block was unhinged by the violence and that they are all in shock now."

The article is featured in the Boston Globe: Shooting victim in Billerica home invasion is identified