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State & Region Briefs


Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Man who beat transgender woman who danced with wife gets probation

SALEM — A man has been sentenced to five years’ probation for beating a transgender woman outside a club after she danced with his wife.

Benjamin Espino, 43, of Lawrence, pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of assault and battery and a civil rights violation. As part of a plea deal, the civil rights violation will be dismissed after five years if Espino complies with the terms of probation.

The attack happened outside a Lawrence club in 2016. Authorities say the victim was a friend of Espino’s wife. Prosecutors say Espino called the woman a slur and attacked her after she danced with his wife.

Espino was also ordered to attend an anger management course and wear an alcohol monitoring bracelet as part of probation.

Man charged with break-ins during funerals held on bail

BARNSTABLE — A man authorities say broke into homes while the residents attended wakes or funerals has been held on $25,000 bail.

The Cape Cod Times reports that 35-year-old Randy Brunelle was held after pleading not guilty at his arraignment Monday to charges including breaking and entering and larceny.

Police, who called him the “obit bandit,” think he is responsible for at least three break-ins on Cape Cod, while Plymouth police say he’s a suspect in five similar break-ins in their town.

Brunelle was arrested Friday after allegedly breaking into a Barnstable home while the resident was at her mother’s wake.

His lawyer says Brunelle developed an addiction to heroin after being prescribed painkillers for a back injury, and thought bail was too high because he stays home with his four children.

Surtax might cause some high earners to leave state

BOSTON — A new report suggests passage by voters of a “millionaire tax” would drive many wealthy residents out of Massachusetts to lower-taxed states.

The study released Tuesday by the conservative-leaning Pioneer Institute says the proposed 4 percent surtax combined with a recent federal tax change would effectively double the annual state income tax paid by Massachusetts’ highest earners to $318,000.

The new federal tax law caps deductions for state and local taxes at $10,000.

Supporters of the ballot question that seeks to boost revenue for transportation and education dismiss the notion that wealthy residents might flee the state.

A recent study by Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center found the wealthiest 1 percent of taxpayers would pay on average $84,000 less in federal taxes next year because of the new U.S. law.

Police: Bus driver leaves crash with students on board

RAYNHAM — Massachusetts police have cited a school bus driver for crashing into two trees and driving away from the scene with students on board.

Authorities say 34-year-old Francelle Fleurine, of Attleboro, was transporting 10 Raynham Middle School students when she struck the first tree Monday afternoon. Fleurine backed into a second tree, smashing the bus’s back window before finishing her route.

No injuries were reported.

Officers responded to the school around 3:30 p.m. after receiving a report of the crash. They say Fleurine told authorities she was running late on her route.

School district Superintendent Derek Swenson said in a statement posted to Facebook on Monday that Fleurine is no longer a driver for the school system.

Swenson apologized to the affected students and parents, calling the driver’s actions “unacceptable.”

Arrest made in July 4 shooting death of Pittsfield man

PITTSFIELD — Police have made an arrest in the shooting death of a Pittsfield man at a Fourth of July block party that apparently stemmed from a dispute that had been festering for years.

J.C. Chadwell was held without bail Monday after pleading not guilty to murder in the July 4 shooting death of Paul Henry.

A witness reported seeing Henry and Chadwell facing each other shortly before the shooting. The 39-year-old Henry was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to court files, the shooting stemmed from an argument in April 2012 over money that Henry owed Chadwell. At that time, Henry allegedly injured Chadwell with a machete and Chadwell responded by breaking a window in Henry’s car.

Chadwell told police he was at the party but denied shooting Henry.

From Associated Press