Criminals who prey on the elderly need to be behind bars

The Barnstable District Attorney’s Office finally indicted Mark Higgins for larceny from a person over the age of 65, and a subsequent offense of larceny of more than $250 by a single scheme after he allegedly stole thousands of dollars from a 92 year old man in a home improvement scam.  (Cape Cod Times Story)

He was also charged with larceny over $250 and conspiracy after allegedly stealing $1400 worth of jewelry from a home in South Yarmouth where he had been hired to do yard work. He was directly indicted because of the “the repetitive nature” of his crimes according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Yarmouth Deputy Police Chief Steven Xiarhos noted that Higgins had 83 entries on his criminal record and is “known to prey on the elderly.”

The crimes on his record go back to 1998.

Why was someone who has been stealing from the elderly since 1998 allowed to prey on the senior citizens of Cape for so long without being indicted and sent to prison? The police are doing their job why isn’t the District Attorney doing his?

Elder AbusePeople who prey on the elderly should be indicted the first time they are charged with such a heinous offense. With increasing numbers of people retiring to the Cape and Islands, people who are charged with crimes against senior citizens should not continuously find their way around the charges and be permitted back on the streets to do it again.

If elected District Attorney for the Cape and Islands I will make sure special attention is paid to these cases and people like Higgins who prey on our elderly residents are immediately indicted.
-Rick Barry
Candidate for District Attorney for Cape & Islands

Career criminals arrested for drug trafficking had 226 combined arraignments

“We need to establish local drug testing labs, examine our current rehabilitation options for drug users, and work harder with the community to stem the tide of the drug epidemic on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.” – Richard Barry

Cotuit, MA – August 22, 2014: A story in the Cape Cod Times today has District Attorney Candidate Richard Barry asking us to consider how we can do more to address the drug epidemic on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard.

After a successful joint investigation between state and Falmouth police, Cape Cod Drug Task Force and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, two career criminals where arrested on federal drug trafficking charges. One of these men had a criminal record with 134 arraignments, another had 92. One had been convicted in 2010, but that case was overturned because the evidence was tested by Annie Dookin.  Dookin was the state lab employee who falsified results, and when that was discovered many convicted criminals whose cases relied on evidence she tested were retried and, or, released.

“How many people have been affected by the drugs these two men were selling?” Asked Barry. “How many people were arrested on possession charges after buying drugs from these men, then released because we don’t test drugs in district court cases?”

drugtestingBarry explained that in order to successfully convict anyone on charges related to illegal drugs, the law now says that those drugs must be tested and the lab employee who tested them has to appear in court. Currently these tests are done by the state, and lab employees only testify in cases in superior court. Cases in district court are often dismissed because of lack of evidence; that is often one of the reasons people like the two men in today’s story can be arrested and arraigned a combined 226 times, yet only one of those arrests resulted in one of those men being convicted.

“Police at all levels from joint task forces to those working local patrol are working hard and making arrests, but when these cases get to court offenders can’t be convicted,” said Barry. “We need to establish our own drug testing labs.”

Barry has been looking into ways that can be done locally, from contracting with private companies who already test people for drugs, to expanding existing county labs. He notes that the current district attorney, Michael O’Keefe, has publicly dismissed the idea of establishing a local lab to test drugs as too expensive and time-consuming.

“It’s easier to dismiss something than to work hard at getting it done,” said Barry. “I will work on establishing a way to do local testing so that we can tackle our drug epidemic, not continue to ignore it.”

Barry notes that being able to convict in the district courts will actually allow the DA’s office to help people who face time in jail by offering options for drug rehabilitation rather than releasing them back onto the streets to continue to use drugs and keep dealers in business. Another issue he will work on.

timeforachangesmaller“We need to establish local drug testing labs, examine our current rehabilitation options for drug users, and work harder with the community to stem the tide of the drug epidemic on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket,” said Barry. “There is too much at stake to continue doing things the way they are done now.”

Eliminating the blurred lines in the DA’s office

Richard Barry statement regarding DA’s stolen credit card and other ethics and campaign finance issues.Richard Barry

Cotuit, MA – August 15 2014: Richard Barry, candidate for Cape and Islands District Attorney, discusses the use of public resources for campaign purposes and the consistent questions about the current DA “blurring the lines.”
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While murders remain unsolved, an opiate and heroin epidemic is claiming lives, destroying families and diminishing our quality of life on Cape Cod and the Islands, the current District Attorney’s focus appears once again to be on politics not addressing these important issues. As District Attorney I will change that focus to where it should be, working for the people of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, not for political friends.

On August 1, 2014 a young woman was in court and admitted to stealing Michael O’Keefe’s campaign credit card number. The circumstances once again call into question the ethical implications of the separation of campaign and official functions of publicly-funded resources at his disposal as District Attorney. Is Mr. O’Keefe’s executive assistant, who is being paid with our tax dollars, also working on his political campaign during the workday?

According to a police report filed by the Massachusetts State Police unit assigned to the Cape & Islands District Attorney’s Office, his executive assistant was reviewing Mr. O’Keefe’s campaign mail when she discovered the unauthorized use of his campaign credit card. The report states that she told them “[T]hat the only time the credit card was used recently was to reserve a function room at Turner’s Yard and Gastropub in the Town of Pembroke. She gave the credit card number over the phone, to event planner Yasmine Zakhary, on Wednesday 5/8/13.”

The police report shows the assistant was familiar with the campaign account, “this credit card is not frequently used and the unauthorized purchases immediately stood out to her.”

Are employees in the DA’s Office working on Mr. O’Keefe’s campaign or performing campaign functions at taxpayer expense? Of course an employee can claim these duties were performed on lunch hours or free time, but should any resources in the DA’s office be used for campaign purposes? Use of copiers, telephones, mail expenses, and any public resources should not be used for campaign purposes.

Furthermore, this case was handled by the State Police Detective unit assigned to the DA’s Office which investigates homicides and serious crimes that the DA may prosecute. That unit enlisted the services of Plymouth County DA’s Detective Unit which also performs the same functions for that office. When we find our credit card numbers have been stolen, are these services available to us? Is this a wise and proper use of these resources?

A double homicide on Central Avenue in Falmouth remains unsolved. The 1993 Murder of Herb Dixon in Cotuit is still unsolved. Most recently a mutilated body in Sandwich has not been identified, and that murder remains unsolved. Detectives assigned to investigate murders should be investigating murders and not directed to investigate matters usually handled by local police departments or other units of the state police who regularly deal with these matters.

Recently, the dual use of Mr. O’Keefe’s Facebook page for both campaign and official purposes was called into question and apparently complaints were filed with the Ethics Committee and Office of Campaign and Political Finance. As an incumbent district attorney, he must be familiar with the rules that apply to websites – incumbent candidates must have separate websites for campaign and official uses. Although the laws may not have caught up to social media, shouldn’t the District Attorney understand that any social media should follow the same rules?

As District Attorney I will make sure staff members are not using public resources to work on any political campaigns or political fundraising. I understand how the rest of us see this as a blurring of the lines. As we were told by the Ethics Committee when I was a town councilor, even if it’s not a violation of ethics or campaign finance laws, if any action appears to blur those lines, it is best to avoid it thus averting the questions and appearance of violations.

Questions about staff performing campaign duties only came to light because of the stolen credit card; the police report was available only because the thief was caught and charged. How often do these things happened, outside the public view? Several years ago Mr. O’Keefe had a gun stolen during a robbery at his house in a gated country club development in Sandwich. He could not produce a serial number for the gun.

But more important there were questions about whether Mr. O’Keefe even had a license to carry a gun.

Those questions have yet to be answered because the robbery was never solved and no one was charged. The closest anyone came to an answer was when a reporter asked the Sandwich Chief of Police if Mr. O’Keefe had a license. His answer was simply, “He does now.” This issue was only discovered because a crime was, again, reported against Mr. O’Keefe.

One further note of interest:
The Cape Cod Times article written about Mr. O’Keefe’s stolen credit card states that it was being used to book a fundraiser for Dan Conley, a Democratic candidate running for mayor of Boston. The cost of the booking was split with Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz, (whose detective unit helped with the investigation.) It’s interesting to see two Republicans paying for a fundraiser, at least one with his own campaign funds, for a Democratic candidate. Do the people who donate to Mr. O’Keefe’s campaign know how he uses his money?

There are too many questions and not enough answers.

It’s time for a change.

- Richard Barry

Copies of the police report:

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Rick Barry’s statement regarding Bryant conviction

On August 1, Michael Bryant pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of oysters from farms in Barnstable and Dennis, this was a substantial financial loss to local shellfishermen trying to make a living. Joe Vaudo, owner of Joe’s Lobster Mart, pleaded guilty to purchasing 800 of the stolen oysters from Bryant in March 2014.

According to the Boston Globe:

Bryant had been selling the stolen oysters to Joseph A. Vaudo, who pleaded guilty to charges of receiving stolen property, failure or refusal to file statistical reports of wholesale and retail shellfish dealers, and directly and willfully misleading a police officer in April, according to a statement from O’Keefe at that time. Vaudo, 63, of Sandwich, was ordered to pay $6,250 in fines in Barnstable District Court.

“If you don’t have someone to sell the stuff to, you don’t steal,” said Sawayer, who was more angry with Vaudo for accepting stolen oysters than with Bryant for taking them in the first place.

District Attorney Michael O’Keefe stated that his office does not know what happened to the remainder of the thousands of oysters Bryant stole from local shellfishermen.

Bryant was sentenced to two years in the Barnstable House of Correction with ten years of probation, during that time he must pay restitution. This means that Bryant will have up to twelve years to pay an estimated 25,000.00 to the victims.

During Bryant’s plea hearing, Justice Gary Nickerson asked him specifically what he’d done with the all of oysters he stole. Bryant stated on the record that he “sold them to Joe”. It now appears that we know where all the other oysters went. This is on the record in a court case.

As District Attorney, I would immediately use this new evidence to indict Vaudo and give him a choice, prison time or pay restitution to the shellfishermen who were victims of the crimes that created a profit for his fish market.

Vaudo is known to have given financial support to members of O’Keefe’s political circle. Instead of indicting Vaudo for accepting all of the oysters stolen by Bryant, our current DA has written a letter to the MA Board of Health supporting Vaudo in his struggle to keep his license to remain in business.

I applaud the hard work of the Barnstable, Dennis and Environmental Police that resulted in the arrest and conviction of Bryant. But clearly Bryant isn’t the only guilty party; our current District Attorney has blundered another one. How can he indict someone who he has supported in writing?

jjoeslobstermartNot only have local shellfisherman lost money that may never be recovered, some of the oysters stolen by Bryant and sold to Vaudo to be sold in his fish market came from contaminated beds. Those oysters were not intended for sale, they were a public health risk.

I understand what all of this means to the local fishermen and the local public. I have worked a shellfish grant myself and understand the kind of sweat effort it takes. Unlike our current DA I don’t live in a gated community, I have a family and am raising my kids in a neighborhood shared by fishermen and many other people who work hard for a living.

I won’t put political favors before justice for the rest of us.

It’s time for a change.


Boston Globe story about thefts, a year ago

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Join Rick as we Kick-off his Mid-Cape Campaign

Join Rick Barry for his Mid-Cape Kick-off!
August 6 from 5:30-7:30

Come and enjoy appetizers and a view of the Harbor at the new restaurant:

outside-patio-overlookingOceans 235

235 Ocean Street, Hyannis, MA 02601
full cash bar

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Committee to Elect Richard Barry
District Attorney

4728 Falmouth Road
Cotuit, MA 02635

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July 25, 2014

Richard Barry statement in response to DA’s involvement in the O’Brien conviction:

Yesterday a federal grand jury found former Probation Commissioner John O’Brien guilty of running the probation department like a criminal enterprise, giving jobs as favors to powerful politicians for his own benefit.

Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe was part of this scheme. The jury returned a guilty verdict in the hiring of the daughter of a friend of O’Keefe’s who had been sponsored by O’Keefe.

Ware ReportThe Ware Report, commissioned by the Supreme Judicial Court, provided findings that were the basis of the charges in this trial that resulted in guilty verdicts. The report focused on the Probation Department and not the politicians. Whether there will be a case involving O’Keefe and other politicians is up to US Attorney Carmen Ortiz.

I would rather be commenting on the issues, the changes I would like to make to improve the District Attorney’s office. I want to understand why the probation department cut a juvenile probation officer who split time between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket five days a week to one day a week divided between both islands when we are in the midst of a crisis of youth addiction. I want to talk about how only one ADA was in Falmouth Court Thursday, when 55 cases were scheduled and what that means to our public safety and the rights of those accused. I want to discuss conviction rates and how victims fare in this system. ‘

But once again we are reading a story that proves the current DA is more focused on holding the position than the job. In this latest case he showed a complete disregard for finding the most qualified person for the position over political cronyism.

Whether the stories we read are about the current DA writing letters on behalf of Joe Vaudo, convicted of selling shellfish stolen from local shellfishermen, allegations of tipping off friends to gambling investigations, or any of the other headlines in the past 13 years, it is clear that the current DA is only interested in the political power of his position and not focused on rising crime and how to address our opiate crisis.

Once elected as District Attorney I will work with the police and share what I’ve learned as a defense attorney to improve investigations into criminal activities. I will actively pursue nonprofit drug rehabilitation programs for opiate addicts. I am not interested in power or patronage, I am interested in making the Cape and Islands a safer place for our children, our visitors and the people that call this wonderful place “home.”

It’s time for a change.

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55 cases scheduled and only ONE ADA?

As a local attorney I travel to different courts in this district.  I see things every day that demonstrate the need for more attention and better management and reveal missed opportunities to improve our public safety.

falmouthcourtToday I had cases scheduled in Falmouth Court and once again witnessed an issue that shows management in the DA’s office has to change.

Fifty-five cases were on the list to be heard today. But, out of 23 assistant district attorneys,  there was only one Assistant District Attorney present.  Many cases were simply continued.

Falmouth is the second busiest court in the district. There is a basic problem with management here.  We need a DA who will understand why continuing these cases is wrong for all of our public safety and, even though some might not want to consider this, it is wrong for those who’ve been arrested and are waiting for whatever happens next.  And, it is not fair to that one ADA.

There has to be a better way to manage a staff of 23 attorneys. I am making a commitment to do just that.

The focus needs to be on doing the job, not holding the position.

It’s time for a change.

- Rick Barry

If you have any questions please contact me: Rick@RichardBarry.org

If you would like to help with my campaign please contact:  Campaign@RichardBarry.org
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Issues and Discussions

I am working on the details of several issues that need to be addressed in our courts, overseen by the current DA. I have been listening to your concerns and many are the same concerns I have, they are the reasons I am running.

I have been practicing here for 25 years and see so many problems that can be addressed with a little extra effort.

The current DA is too comfortable in his seat, he hasn’t been challenged enough and his focus is on his friends, not his constituents. He is too far removed from those of us who live in the neighborhoods outside of his exclusive gated community.

As we do research it is also clear there is a protective shell around information that should be accessible by all.

More to come. Watch this space!

And please, I am listening to you and value your input.  Contact me by email: Rick@RichardBarry.org

Rick Barry.

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CC Times: Victims’ reactions to DA’s letter supporting criminal

In case you missed it, a story about reactions to the current DA’s latest behavior. Rick Barry will focus his efforts on public saftey for the rest of us, not personal favors for the few.

The full story with links to the letter and other legal documents can be found here: http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140710/NEWS/407100334/0/NEWS01


Oyster farmers stew over letter

Victims of last summer’s oyster thefts that cost local shellfish farmers thousands in lost business and damaged equipment want a Sandwich business owner who accepted the stolen goods to lose his permits to sell fish.

And some are outraged that Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe wrote a letter that they say appears to advocate for the perpetrator rather than his victims.

Continue reading

It’s time for a change

familydog (250x222)I am ready to serve the residents of the Cape and the Islands

I am running because I believe the District’s Attorney’s responsibility is to the people he serves.

I am running because I believe our current District Attorney has not been able to protect our most precious resource, our children.

I am running because I know I have the skills to tackle our growing drug problem and the effects it is having on our neighborhoods and communities. We need to feel safe, and know that once the police have done their job the District Attorney will do his job. Read Rick’s full message here