Local man held without bail after SWAT response

A Haverhill man was arraigned last week in a New Hampshire court and ordered to be held without bail after threatening a woman with a gun and prompting a SWAT Team response, according to court documents.

Fernando Landor, 29, faces charges of criminal threatening, reckless conduct, violation of a protective order and stalking. He appeared Thursday of last week in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Around 9 a.m. on Tuesday of last week, police were called to Beech Street in Manchester where a woman identified as Dallas White said her ex-boyfriend Landor, with whom she has a child, pulled a gun on her in the street, according to court documents.

White called police and told Officer James Pittman “she observed Landor sitting in a vehicle and she parked her vehicle across the street from him and exited to confront him. She stated that she confronted him on the matter of him lying about another female and his whereabouts, and an argument ensued,” according to court documents.

White said she was in the car with a friend, her sister and her 2-year-old nephew at the time, the court documents said. She has a protective court order against Landor, according to the documents.

White “then stated that Landor began to reach into his pocket as he walked towards her, and she turned her back to Landor and began to walk back to her vehicle. She stated that she was later informed by her sister and friend that Landor had pulled a firearm and pointed it at her,” court documents said.

Landor was believed to be in an apartment at 182 Beech St., according to a statement by police. The area of Beech and Hayward streets was shut down, the apartment building evacuated and the SWAT Team set up a perimeter to find him, according to police.

In Manchester District Court last Thursday, a prosecutor asked that Landor be sent to jail without bail because he threatened the mother of his child and endangered the other witnesses, including the 2-year-old.

Kimberly Kossick, Landor's defense attorney, explained at the bail hearing that Landor does not have a history of violence and was confronted in front of the home where he was staying with his current girlfriend. Kossick added that no gun was recovered by police and that Landor does not own a gun.

Landor was arrested at 12:21 p.m. on Tuesday of last week outside the Papa Gino's restaurant at 55 Crystal Ave. in Derry, according to Derry Police Capt. Vernon Thomas. Kossick said that's where Landor is employed.

“He didn’t run away. He went to work that morning," Kossick said.

Manchester police were able to locate Landor on Tuesday after calling him. They coordinated with Derry police for his arrest, Thomas said.

"He was on the sidewalk and he cooperated with police," Thomas said, "and we turned him over to Manchester."

— Madeline Hughes


Former Hillie faces another drug charge

Ian Kessel, the former Haverhill High School football player sentenced to prison for robbing a man of marijuana at gunpoint in 2016, has been arrested again.

Police charged him with drug possession during a traffic stop.

Haverhill police said Officer Jordan Bergevine was on patrol in near Arlington and Windsor streets just before 9 p.m. on Dec. 29 when he stopped a black Honda driven by a 20-year-old Haverhill woman.

According to a police report, the woman presented the officer with a New Hampshire driver's license. Kessel, 23, was in the passenger seat not wearing a seat belt, the report says.

During the stop, Bergevine learned the car was registered to Kessel, who now lives in Lowell, police said. His license was suspended and he was having a friend drive, the report states.

“While Kessel explained this to me, I observed him dip his right arm toward the floorboard and lower his body as if he was concealing something,” Bergevine said, according to the report.

The officer then ordered Kessel to show his hands, the report said.

Kessel refused to get out of the car, telling Bergevine, “I know my rights!” the report states. Since Kessel would not unlock or open the door, the officer had to reach in through the partially open window to gain access, according to the report.

Inside the car was a “large bundle” of plastic baggies and more than 3 ounces of marijuana, according to the police report. Bergevine also detected a “strong odor” of marijuana in the vehicle, according to the report.

A backpack found inside the car contained a box of plastic baggies and a digital scale, police say.

Kessel posted $5,000 cash bail following his arrest and was arraigned on Monday of last week in Haverhill District Court before Judge Mary McCabe. He was ordered to remain drug and alcohol free until his next court date in January.

The arrest came 16 months after Kessel pleaded guilty in Salem Superior Court to a reduced charge of larceny from a person stemming from a 2016 incident in which he and co-defendant Dalvin Andino stole marijuana from a man at gunpoint.

Superior Court Judge Timothy Feeley sentenced Kessel and Andino to a year in state prison.

In 2016, police arrested Kessel after he and Andino robbed a North Andover man they met in the parking lot of Bradford's Forest Acres apartment complex when they met him to buy marijuana. The victim initially said one of the defendants put a gun to his head and the pair stole $600, according to police. The robbery charge was later amended when the complaining victim said Kessel and Andino stole marijuana but not money.

Before moving to Lowell, Kessel lived on Bradford's Lexington Avenue, where police in an unusual move stationed the department's armored surveillance vehicle in front of his home in 2017 in response to neighbor complaints that Kessel was having parties and causing disruptions to the neighborhood.

At the time, Kessel was supposed to be confined to the custody of his parents, police said.

— Allison Corneau


Local woman charged with identity fraud

A Haverhill woman faces a charge of identity fraud and conspiracy after her nephew said she illegally obtained his Social Security number and other identifying information to open a National Grid account in his name.

Cheryl Zuccola, 59, of 29 Observatory Ave. was arrested Dec. 22 on a warrant out of Londonderry, police there said.

Lead investigator Det. Narciso Garcia Jr. wrote in his arrest warrant application that Zuccola's nephew Anthony Hardacre of Londonderry accused his aunt of committing fraud against him from April 2015 to February 2016.

According to Hardacre, Zuccola used his personal information to open a National Grid account for her former home at 55 South Elm St., Haverhill. A six-month investigation into the crime began in June, three months after Hardacre first learned of the fraud, police said.

Hardacre believed Zuccola who stole his identity because she had a “history of stealing from family members,” Garcia wrote in his arrest warrant application.

Hardacre told police Zuccola took over the bills for the Elm Street home after her mother died, continuing to live there after other relatives moved out, according to the arrest warrant application.

Hardacre told police he helped her vacate the property in February 2016, according to the paperwork.

According to the paperwork, National Grid told police Hardacre was listed as the subscriber on the account, with Zuccola's phone number attached. The utility company also shared customer service call notes with police, detailing several conversations regarding the account they had with others. According to police, Hardacre denied speaking with the utility company during the times in question.

Once Hardacre was alerted to the fraud, Zuccola called him to “explain a few things,” police said. In a voicemail, she said everything was “screwed up” and confirmed she asked Hardacre's mother to help pay the bill, police said. They said Zuccola also pleaded with Hardacre not to involve the police.

Questioned by investigators in late October, Zuccola admitted she did pay “some” of the bill, but said she is on disability and at times fell behind on payments, police said.

Admitting to the crime during a police interview, Zuccola said she took out the account using Hardacre's information that was given to her by his mother. Zuccola said she had her daughter call National Grid posing as Hardacre because the daughter “had a raspy voice” and could sound like a male on the phone, police said.

Zuccola is scheduled to be arraigned in Rockingham Superior Court on Jan. 2.

— Allison Corneau


OSHA probes local business after accident kills worker

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched an investigation into the United Staging and Rigging company of Haverhill after a 34-year-old worker who was building a lighting tower for Boston's First Night festivities was killed.

According to United Staging owner Jon Sharpe, Brandon McSweeney was working on Dec. 28 in Boston's Copley Square when a 3,500-pound ballast “dislodged from a forklift and landed on his chest.”

He was pronounced dead at the scene, Sharpe said.

“We are devastated by (the) tragic accident that occurred...” Sharpe said in a prepared statement. “The health and safety of our employees is our No. 1 priority and we are working with the Boston Police (Department) and OSHA to determine how this could have happened. Our focus and prayers are with our employee, his family and co-workers.”

As is standard with OSHA investigations, the agency determines if workplace safety standards were violated. The investigation is expected to be completed within six months, a spokesperson said.

McSweeney, who lived in Sherborn, was remembered by his family in a statement as a “good-natured man of quiet strength, solid intelligence and perpetual kindness.”

McSweeney's family — including parents Jay and Sheryl and siblings Russell, Jayson and Emily — plans to establish a memorial scholarship fund in his name.

— Allison Corneau


Bail set for Haverhill teens accused of car theft

Two Haverhill 14-year-olds appeared in Lawrence Juvenile Court last week after police said the boys led officers on a chase in a stolen minivan.

A judge set bail for one of the teens at $500, while his co-defendant's bail was set at $100. Both teens, whose identities are being withheld from the public due to their age, were ordered to return to court next month for pretrial hearings.

Groveland police said the driver of the minivan was charged with larceny of a motor vehicle, failure to stop for police, two counts of leaving the scene of property damage and unlicensed operation of a vehicle. The second teen was charged with resisting arrest and being a minor in possession of marijuana.

Officers in that town said they first noticed the van going south on Route 97 toward Georgetown about 1:15 a.m. on Dec. 21. When the van made a turn without signaling, Groveland Officer Adam Sandborn attempted a traffic stop, police said. Once he turned on his blue cruiser lights, the van accelerated, then came to an abrupt stop and the driver and two other occupants ran away, police said.

The van had not been put into park, and it crashed into a tree next to a Baldwin Terrace home, police said.

The van's driver and a passenger were located a short distance from the vehicle, which was reported stolen from Haverhill, police said. Officers are looking for a third teen involved in the incident, police said.

During booking, the driver was found to have three outstanding warrants for his arrest, all from Haverhill police, investigators said. Both teens arrested have been charged recently with breaking into cars and stealing vehicles in Groveland, as well as criminal incidents in Haverhill, police said.

— Allison Corneau 


$1,000 donation will buy bilingual books

Bilingual Haverhill students will receive new books through a $1,000 donation to Haverhill Promise, the city’s campaign for grade level reading.

According to Haverhill Promise, English is not the primary language spoken at the homes of nearly 17% of Haverhill public school students. Through the donation made by the Northeastern University chapter of the Phi Iota Alpha fraternity, 150 bilingual books written in both English and Spanish will be purchased for city students, Haverhill Promise campaign director Jenny Arndt said.

State Rep. Andy Vargas, a founding member of Haverhill Promise and a Phi Iota Alpha alumni, helped bring the two groups together.

“There is something special that happens when parents read to their kids,” Vargas said. “As we strengthen our citywide literacy campaign, this support will help encourage parents of all backgrounds to do so.”

Haverhill Promise plans to purchase a variety of books to distribute to families identified as in-need by Haverhill’s Latino Coalition and Haverhill public schools, with distribution scheduled for the end of January.

— Allison Corneau


Couple celebrates Valley's first baby of new year

It was a great day to celebrate not just the new year, but a new decade.

Baby Myeila came into the world Wednesday of last week at 1:07 a.m. at Lawrence General Hospital's birthing center — the first baby of the new year to be born in the region.

Her mother, Ashlaine Etienne, 23, and father, Perets Isma, 25, were beaming with pride last Wednesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the birth of their first child.

"I wanted a New Year's Eve baby, but she does what she wants," said a smiling Etienne, who lives in South Lawrence near the North Andover line with Isma, her fiancé.

She noted that Myeila was a week overdue and came in at a healthy 6.18 pounds and 20 inches long with a full head of curly, dark hair. "She had no plans of coming out," the new mom said.

"We are blessed," she added. "We welcomed the new year with a new baby."

Carmelle Alexis, Etienne's mother and Myeila's grandmother, sat in the corner of the hospital room last Wednesday, reveling in the birth of her first grandchild.

"She's a miracle baby," Alexis said, noting that she couldn't stop her tears of joy when the baby was born. "I'm so excited."

The new mom's best friends, Tricia and Claudia Aspilaire of Medford, sat on a couch in the hospital room, supporting their friend and Myeila.

"She made the entrance she deserved," Tricia said. "She was supposed to be a Christmas baby, but she was born on New Year's Eve."

Everyone in the room, including a nurse and a hospital administrator, laughed when Etienne told the story of how she came up with her newborn daughter's name.

"I saw it on a license plate and I liked it," she said. "I remember saying, 'If I ever have a baby, I'm naming her that."'

Isma said he has already reached out to their extended family, who live everywhere from their homeland in Haiti to Canada, Connecticut, New York and Texas.

"Everyone is really happy and sent their congratulations," said Isma, who works in Woburn for a software company based in the Fenway area of Boston.

The couple said they first met while attending Northeast Metro Tech in Wakefield, but didn't start dating until after graduating.

They both had nothing but praise for the hospital and its staff.

"The nurses have done an incredible job," said Etienne, an administrator for MaidPro in the North End. "We couldn't have done it without them."

Their obstetrician was Dr. Thomas Davidson of Andover Obstetrics.

"It was a tough 18 hours, but we made it," Isma said. "It's all been very emotional."

The couple, originally from Haiti, had another reason for celebrating the birth of their daughter. She was born on Haitian Independence Day — the day 216 years ago when the island nation separated from France.

— Bill Kirk


Weather clears in time for New Year's celebrations

Snow, sleet and rain changed over to a cloudy day on New Year's Eve with temperatures in the lower 40s, creating clear roads for drivers during the holiday night.

The National Weather Service's Winter Weather Advisory continued in the region through Tuesday at 7 a.m.

The storm that blew through the region beginning Sunday night left a couple inches of snow and sleet behind.

"It (was) really a mixed bag, depending on where you (were)," said Glenn Field, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service.i

He said Merrimack Valley communities received snow, rain and freezing rain — a wintery mix changing from town to town.

Highs for the day before News Year's Day  were in the lower 40s for the region, and reached 45 degrees in Boston.

On New Year's Day, temperatures were in the mid-30s in the Merrimack Valley, with light winds out of the southwest around 10 mph and mostly cloudy skies. The first day of the new decade was mostly sunny, and daytime temperatures were in the 40s through the rest of the week.

— Madeline Hughes



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