State & Region Briefs

Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Mother, son plead guilty to plan to smuggle drugs into jail

NORTHAMPTON — A Vermont mother and son have pleaded guilty to attempting to smuggle prescription opioids and heroin into a Massachusetts jail.

Helen LaPlaca, 57, and 34-year-old Kevin LaPlaca both entered their pleas Friday to charges of conspiracy and drug possession.

Prosecutors say police learned through recorded jail calls that the LaPlacas and Kevin LaPlaca’s former girlfriend smuggled oxycodone and tried to bring heroin into the Hampshire County Jail between February and March 2017.

Kevin LaPlaca and his brother were serving six-month sentences in the jail at the time.

A judge has sentenced Kevin LaPlaca to two years in jail with a recommendation for the man to go to drug and alcohol counseling.

His mother has been placed on administrative probation.

Cape man guilty of stealing police cruiser from lot

HARWICH — A man has been convicted of stealing and then intentionally crashing a police cruiser.

The Cape Cod Times reports that 27-year-old Joseph Burns was found guilty Monday of motor vehicle theft, leaving a scene with property damage and driving with a revoked license. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail.

Court records show a police officer left his cruiser running while he went into a store in Dennis on Oct. 3. Burns jumped in and drove away.

Another police officer spotted the car in Harwich and tried to pull Burns over, but he crashed into items on the side of the road.

His mother asked the judge to give Burns a long sentence, saying he struggles with alcoholism.

Speaker: PawSox R.I. stadium deal ‘dead’

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The speaker of the Rhode Island House says the deal to provide public funding for a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox is “dead.”

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said that the financing plan approved by the Senate last week will not make it through the House in its current form.

Under the Senate plan, the state would pay for $23 million of the $83 million stadium the Boston Red Sox Triple-A affiliate says it needs to replace its current aging facility.

Mattiello says two-thirds of Rhode Islanders do not support the bill and therefore the House will not support it.

Worcester has been courting the team even as it negotiates with Rhode Island officials.

Dr. Seuss museum replaces mural some found insensitive

SPRINGFIELD — A Springfield museum dedicated to Dr. Seuss has replaced a mural that included a stereotype of a Chinese man.

The mural unveiled Tuesday includes illustrations from several of Dr. Seuss’ books. The original mural in the entryway of the Springfield museum featured illustrations from the author’s first children’s book, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” which included the stereotype that some found racist.

The original mural became the center of controversy when children’s authors Mike Curato, Lisa Yee and Mo Willems said they would boycott an event at the museum because of the “jarring racial stereotype.”

The decision to replace the mural drew criticism from the author’s family and the city’s mayor.

Dr. Seuss’ real name was Theodor Geisel, and he grew up in Springfield.

Lawmakers consider 15% tax on daily fantasy sports

BOSTON — State lawmakers are considering taxing daily fantasy sports operators like Boston’s DraftKings.

State Sen. Eileen Donoghue has introduced legislation making the online games permanently legal and subject to a 15 percent tax. The Lowell Democrat also wants to charge the state Gaming Commission with regulating the industry.

Daily fantasy sports are online contests in which players compete for cash prizes by picking teams of real-life athletes and scoring “fantasy” points.

Donoghue’s proposal builds on the recommendations of a special legislative commission on fantasy sports she co-chaired, she said. Lawmakers in 2016 declared “fantasy contests” legal through July 31, 2018, while that commission developed a permanent legislative solution.

Donoghue’s bill calls for a fee equal to either $100,000 or 1.5 percent of a company’s gross revenue.

DraftKings didn’t comment on the proposal but said it’s committed to “common sense” legislation that protects consumers and allows the industry to continue to grow.

Police identify couple killed in apparent murder-suicide

MONTGOMERY — Authorities have released the identities of a husband and wife killed in an apparent murder-suicide in a rural Massachusetts town.

State police say 68-year-old Jeffrey Houston and 65-year-old Janice Houston were found dead with gunshot wounds in their Montgomery home. Their dog was also shot.

Troopers responded to the house after receiving a call around 9:30 a.m. Monday from a man who said he had just killed his wife and was about to kill himself.

Police tried to contact anyone in the house but did not get a response. A tactical team entered the house and found the bodies.

Investigators say Jeffrey Houston had a firearm when he was found.

Montgomery is a town of fewer than 1,000 residents about 15 miles west of Springfield.

From Associated Press