State & Region Briefs

Friday, January 19, 2018
Jury awards man $1.2 million for wrongful termination

BOSTON — A jury has awarded a man who said he was fired for taking medical leave $1.2 million for wrongful termination.

The jury decided in favor Thursday of Richard DaPrato’s complaint against his former employer, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. DaPrato worked as a data resources manager from 2004 to 2015.

Court records show DaPrato suffered from nerve tumors in his feet during his last two years at the authority that caused severe pain and eventually required surgery.

He says he was fired because he spent part of his recovery period in Mexico.

The authority claimed his trip was a medical leave rule violation.

DaPrato’s attorney says the authority “behaved like it’s above the law” when it fired his client. MWRA officials declined comment Thursday.

Man convicted in fatal stabbing of woman

WORCESTER — A man authorities say stabbed a woman 19 times and left her to die on the street has been convicted of first-degree murder.

A jury Friday found 28-year-old Pedro Solis guilty of fatally stabbing Cherise Hill in Worcester in December 2015.

Prosecutors say Solis wanted the 31-year-old mother of three dead because she had seen him stab a man days earlier, and feared she would report him to police.

Solis faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.

Another man who police say participated in the attack on Hill testified against Solis and in exchange will be allowed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Solis’ lawyer says his client was “an innocent man” who had been falsely accused.

Judge denies bail for man charged in New Year’s Eve shooting

LAWRENCE — A judge has ordered a man charged in the New Year’s Eve shooting death of his estranged wife’s boyfriend to be held without bail.

The judge’s order followed 49-year-old Jose Urena’s arraignment Thursday. Urena has been charged with murder in the death of 22-year-old Jeffrie Santana-Peguero.

Police found Santana-Peguero in a minivan in Lawrence with eight bullet wounds.

Investigators say Santana-Peguero had moved in with Urena’s wife last year, and the woman is three months pregnant with his child.

Authorities say surveillance footage captured a truck matching the description of a vehicle registered to Urena following Santa-Peguero minutes before his body was found.

Urena’s attorney called the evidence “highly circumstantial,” and he says his client denies the charge.

Prosecutor: Woman stole gold to pay mom’s medical expenses

ATTLEBORO — A woman charged with stealing $40,000 worth of gold from her employer to pay for her sick mother’s medical expenses has avoided jail.

The Sun Chronicle reports that 40-year-old Carmelita Francis on Thursday pleaded to sufficient facts for a guilty finding on larceny charge and was sentenced to two years of probation and 20 hours of community service.

The case was continued without a finding, meaning the charge will be dismissed if she stays out of legal trouble during probation.

Prosecutors say Francis stole gold discs manufactured for the U.S. Mint while working at an Attleboro precious metals manufacturer. The gold was recovered at a Rhode Island pawn shop.

Her lawyer said his client is a widow motivated by love for her dying mother in the Philippines, not by greed.

After 911 prank, boy vows to call only in an ‘emerginsy’

SOMERVILLE — The Somerville police department has received a handwritten apology for a series of prank 911 calls from a young boy who promised not to call again except in an “emerginsy.”

A Somerville police officer was sent to East Somerville Community School last week after several 911 calls were made from a phone in the cafeteria. The officer found the students responsible and talked to them and their parents.

A few days later, one of the students, about age 10, hand-delivered an apology note, which the department posted online.

The boy said he was “very sorry” for the prank and recognized that it was “a really bad idea.”

He ended the letter by saying, “Thank you for everything you do to keep us safe.”

From Associated Press