hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

April 3, 2014

Last week in Haverhill

The Haverhill Gazette

---- — Police turn to software to battle crime

HAVERHILL — Call it the police department’s crystal ball.

Police in Haverhill have started using a relatively new cloud-based crime prediction program that forecasts when and where crimes are likely to occur. Called Predictive Policing, or “PredPol,” is just getting its start in Haverhill, though the software is already in use in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Seattle.

“We want to go where we think crime will be so we can stop it,” police Chief Alan DeNaro said.

With fewer officers than comparably sized communities, police say they need to use every available tool to work as efficiently and effectively as possible.

DeNaro said his department used about $30,000 in drug crime forfeiture money to pay for one year’s use of PredPol. After that, it will cost the department about $25,000 annually.

“If I wasn’t confident that this will help the city I would not invest in it,” DeNaro said. “It will help us use our limited resources more efficiently.”

Mike LaBella

‘Massive credit card counterfeiting’ scheme uncovered

HAVERHILL — A man who used stolen credit card information to purchase $117 in food from a McDonalds in the city, has ended up being arrested and held on $100,000 cash bail for his alleged part in a “massive credit card counterfeiting” scheme, according to police.

Vincent Leo, 36, of 44 Sarah J Circle, who was arrested March 21, also used the stolen credit card information to purchase $41 in goods from a Cumberland Farms, police said. He tried to buy $435 in goods from a Walgreens store, but the transaction was denied.

Police said he was finally caught after using a cloned credit card with a Waltham woman’s information to purchase a rescue knife along with a safety vest and jacket from a police supply store in the city.

Store surveillance video led police to Leo. When police searched his home, they uncovered what the Essex County District Attorney’s Office referred to as a “massive credit card counterfeiting” scheme in support of their request to have Leo held on $100,000 cash bail.

Police said they found blank credit cards, a magnetic card swipe reader/writer encoder and a photo ID card printer in the home along with other electronic equipment needed to produce and clone credit cards, debit cards and gift cards.

Mike LaBella

Trial for ex-officer postponed after witness fails to show up

A witness failed to appear in court Monday, forcing the postponement of the trial of a former Haverhill police officer fired for allegedly stalking his former wife.

Essex County Assistant District Attorney Michelle Belmonte told Newburyport District Court Judge Peter Doyle that she was requesting a continuance to June 9 due to the fact that a witness for the prosecution who was summonsed by mail failed to appear.

Monday was the scheduled start of a trial for Victor “Manny” Pellot, who was charged a year ago with stalking and unlawfully seeking CORI information. In addition to stalking his ex-wife and her boyfriend, Pellot misused police resources and databases to research the boyfriend’s background, police said.

Pellot’s defense lawyer, Gerald LaFlamme of Haverhill, objected to the continuance, indicating Pellot’s family was in the courtroom, expecting the trial to begin.

Pellot’s case is being heard in Newburyport instead of Haverhill District Court because charges against a police officer are routinely heard before a judge in a court other than the one officers appear in as part of their job.

Pellot, 50, was fired last July, following a Civil Service hearing. He had been a member of the Haverhill department since 1983.

Mike LaBella