Shots fired at city apartment building
Police said they are investigating multiple gunshots that were fired last week at a multi-family home at 42 Jackson St., Haverhill — next door to an apartment building at 38 Jackson St. that was heavily damaged by fire recently.
Jackson Street is part of the Mount Washington neighborhood, which is known for its gang violence. Jackson Street Extension, on the north side of High Street, is where another incident of shots fired was reported in December 2019.
In that incident, police charged brothers Isaac Rodriguez, 20, of Haverhill and Aidan Rodriguez, 21, of Lawrence with shooting bullets at a home with people inside in the middle of the day. Police said the shooting happened just before 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 28, 2019, in the thickly settled neighborhood. The target was a home which was shot at two other times in previous months, police said.
Both men plead guilty during a Superior Court hearing on Feb. 18 of this year to possession of an unlicensed firearm. Judge Thomas Dreschler sentenced each of them to 2 1/2 years in jail and an additional 18 months in jail after they pleaded guilty to possession of a loaded firearm.
The brothers were also ordered to serve two years of probation after they are released from jail. The probation order came after each man pleaded guilty to discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building and three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon (a gun). Each man was credited with 418 days served — time they were held after their arrests.
The brothers were members of the Gangsta Disciples gang, police said at the time of their arrests. A member of the Trinitario gang was living on the first floor of the home at 65 Jackson St. Extension when the shooting happened, according to police.
The most recent shooting on Jackson Street was reported March 26 about 11 p.m., police said. They said the bullets penetrated the building but there were no reported injuries. An investigation is ongoing.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Detective Jordan Bergevine at 978-722-1577.
— Mike LaBella
UNH moves graduation date
The University of New Hampshire is pushing back its commencement ceremonies to May 23.
University President James Dean said in a recent message to graduating students that the move allows the ceremony at Wildcat Stadium in Durham to be held on a weekend day, which graduates had requested.
He also said the original May 15 date wasn’t feasible, given current pandemic safety regulations and the fact that classes would still be in session at that time.
Dean said graduates need to register to attend and will have to submit a proof of a negative COVID-19 test. No decision has been made yet on whether guests will be allowed to attend, he added.
— Staff reports
Blood supply running low
Officials with the American Red Cross say the blood supply continues to face challenges from the pandemic and extreme winter weather that has impacted much of the country.
More donors, especially those with type O blood, are needed now to ensure that patients have lifesaving blood products available for emergencies and everyday medical treatments.
March is Red Cross Month, and the Red Cross is celebrating blood, platelet and plasma donors for stepping up to meet the constant need for blood amid the pandemic. All who come to give blood until March 26 will receive an exclusive Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.
To find a blood drive, visit www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/find-drive and enter your zip code. Check the site regularly for updates on where drives are being held. You can also download the Red Cross Blood Donor App at www.redcrossblood.org/blood-donor-app.html, by calling 1-800-733-2767 or by enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.
— Mike LaBella
River Bards series set to return
Haverhill’s River Bards are planning a return for the spring season.
Held via Zoom, this free series will be held on Friday evenings from April through June and will feature readings by published poets, followed by open mic readings. At 7 p.m., the featured poet will present a reading, followed by open mic time (sign-ups will occur via Zoom chat) until everyone has had a chance to read. The event wraps up no later than 8:30 p.m, and is family friendly and open to the public.
These poetry nights will be recorded and posted on HC Media’s Channel 22 following each program. Register at www.creativehaverhill.org/programs for a Zoom link and password.
For more information, contact Erin Padilla at 503-476-4339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Mike LaBella
Cultural Council awards grants
The Haverhill Cultural Council has awarded more than $43,000 in grants to local nonprofits, individuals and local business leaders to bring cultural activities and programs to students, senior citizens and children in Greater Haverhill.
"Since the start of the pandemic, cultural programs have taken a huge hit, and it has been tough to plan or execute the events we wanted to see take place in 2020," said Nathan Webster, chairman of the Cultural Council.
He said that with the help of the Massachusetts Cultural Council and Gov. Charlie Baker’s $16 million budget for arts funding, Haverhill can offer programs to keep the cultural community alive and revitalize programs that may not have happened.
"We thank Mayor James Fiorentini for believing in arts and culture in Haverhill, and look forward to continuing his mission," Webster said.
The Haverhill Cultural Council received a total of 23 grant applications, all of which were funded at the requested amounts, Webster said.
For a complete list of grant recipients, visit www.mass-culture.org/haverhill and click on the "Funding List" tab.
— Mike LaBella
Police warn of phone scam
Derry police are warning the public to be careful of phone scams that have affected several people in the area recently.
The police posted the warning on social media, saying the department has received numerous phone calls from parents saying they had received a call from their children saying they had been in a car accident and telling them to "come to the police station."
Police say these calls are scams with people posing as children and telling parents they are seriously injured and need a lawyer.
The scammer then provides a phone number to the parent, saying it's a lawyer's number, police say.
People should not call that number or give any information over the phone.
Police urge anyone that truly believes it was their own child at the other end of the call to hang up and contact the child's actual phone number.
Anyone who thinks they have fallen victim to this scam or any other scam can contact Derry police at 603-432-6111.
— Staff reports
Prosecutions continue in multi-state conspiracy case
Several men have been prosecuted for a multi-state conspiracy to steal and sell excavators, jet skis, boats, ATVs and trailers from businesses — including one person in Hampstead — according to an announcement from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Rhode Island.
Investigators say that between November 2019 and July 2020, more than $700,000 worth of merchandise was taken from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
That includes two jet skis, a mini-ATV and three side-by-sides stolen from daSilva Motorsports in Hampstead during July 2020, according to police. They said the items were hauled away in rented and stolen trucks.
Rhode Island police said the ATV was discovered on a street in Providence and towed to an impound facility. Police say it was subsequently stolen again from the impound.
Investigations launched by the Johnston and North Providence, Rhode Island, police departments were eventually joined by the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force. Those efforts merged with parallel investigations by Rhode Island and Connecticut state police, as well as others in Hampstead and Easton, Massachusetts.
A cumulative list of stolen goods includes three Bobcat excavators, 10 jet skis, four boats, eight ATVs and 10 trailers, the various departments reported.
Investigators said many of the stolen items were stored in the Rhode Island communities of Providence, Johnston, Warwick, North Providence, Scituate, and Glocester. Several were hauled to Florida to be sold, investigators said.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Rhode Island announced last week that Jared Santiago, 28, of Providence admitted in federal court that he was a participant in the conspiracy.
In December 2019, Santiago said he and others stole two boats, a 24-foot boat valued at $102,065, and a 22-foot boat valued at $90,914, from Don’s Marina in Tiverton, Rhode Island, and transported one of the boats to Sarasota, Florida, according to the statement.
Similarly, on Dec. 21, 2020, Luis Morales, 37, of Providence admitted that on July 17, 2020, he drove his pickup truck to a dealership where he and others stole a 2020 Yamaha watercraft, a 2019 Can-Am Maverick Sport off-road vehicle, and two trailers, according to the statement. Records show he also described in court how on July 20, 2020, he drove his pickup truck to another dealership and stole three jet skis.
Seven other defendants, including the accused leader of the conspiracy, Jose Montes, 36, who also goes by the names Jose Rivera and Tuto, of Cranston, Rhode Island, are awaiting trial.
— Breanna Edelstein
Maine women charged with drug trafficking in Valley
Two women from Maine, one who was hiding in the back of a minivan, are facing narcotics trafficking and distribution charges after a patrol officer pulled over the vehicle in Lawrence last week, police said.
Officers seized 25 "finger-like" packages of fentanyl with a street value of as much as $15,000 during the traffic stop at Lawrence and Maple streets, according to a police report.
Cassandra Goodwin, 29, of Skowhegan, Maine, and Aaliyah Gagliardi, 26, of Canaan, Maine, were arrested and charged with trafficking a Class A substance and illegal distribution of a Class B substance, police said.
Around 3:30 a.m. last Monday, police pulled over the 2005 blue Dodge Caravan that Goodwin was driving because the license plate light was "poorly lit, as if about to die which made it difficult for me to see the number," according to an officer's report.
Police said Goodwin was texting on her cell phone after police pulled over the van. She said she had dropped off a friend in Lawrence, but that she didn't know the friend's last name or address, according to the report.
The officer "was having a hard time believing her story and believed she was being deceptive," according to the report.
When police asked Goodwin if there was anything illegal in the van, she responded "there should not be drugs in the vehicle," according to the report.
An officer said he observed a crack pipe in the Dodge Minivan and some needles on the top of a black bag. Two officers who arrived to help at the scene said someone was hiding in the rear storage area of the van under a red blanket. According to the police report, officers found Gagliardi there.
Once the women were out of the minivan, police said they seized 25 "finger-like" packages of fentanyl, two twisty bags of crack cocaine, one twisty bag of cocaine, $325 cash, a set of keys and a small digital scale. The police report also said the minivan was "full of trash."
— Jill Harmacinski
Valley native retiring as Pebble Beach CEO
There is no better rags-to-riches story in the Merrimack Valley than Bill Perocchi's life story.
He grew up in the Lawrence projects. He received help and encouragement from his uncles. Then he became a star student-athlete at Brooks School. And when a possible college football career ended early in his freshman year due to injury, he became a full-fledged student at the University of New Hampshire.
Perocchi, noted for his tireless work ethic, became a star in business at G.E. Capital, Doubletree Hotels and for the last 22 years as CEO of Pebble Beach Company, including five golf courses and three hotels, managing the entire property.
Perocchi, 63, recently announced he is retiring, effective July 1, 2021.
"It was the right time," said Perocchi, who will maintain the family home on Pebble Beach with his wife, Nanci (Shaheen) Percocchi, a native of Methuen.
"The plan was to be here for a year," said Perocchi, who built a home in Seabrook, New Hampshire, early in the 2000s with the expectation of retiring there.
"But it was tough place to place to leave ... for so many reasons," he said of Pebble Beach.
Perocchi's daughter, Chrissy, and son, William, attended Stevenson School on Pebble Beach. Both also attended Notre Dame University and have settled in California.
Perocchi had retired in the late 1990s while living with his family in Scottsdale, Arizona, but was part of a group formed by U.S. Olympic executive director and Major League Baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth with the hopes of purchasing Pebble Beach Company.
That group included Arnold Palmer and Clint Eastwood.
After the purchase was complete, Perocchi was offered the CEO position, which he agreed to accept for a "short" period.
The plan was for his children to attend Brooks School, like he did. That plan had one issue — his family adored Pebble Beach.
"It has been one of the great pleasures of my life and my family," Perocchi said.
During his 22 years as CEO, Perocchi has led Pebble Beach Company through many great celebrations and some unprecedented challenges. Since 1999, it hosted three U.S. Opens (2000, 2010 and 2019), two U.S. Amateurs (1999 and 2018), and its Centennial Celebration. Under Perocchi’s leadership, the company invested more than $500 million on resort improvements.
Perocchi also guided Pebble Beach through major challenges after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the 2008-2009 recession, and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Bill was instrumental in helping us purchase Pebble Beach 22 years ago, and has had tremendous success as CEO since then. He is widely respected by our ownership group, community and employees,” read a statement from the two founding partners, Ueberroth and Richard Ferri. “Possibly his greatest accomplishment has been navigating the company through some extremely difficult challenges and having our resort emerge even stronger each time. We are grateful for Bill’s leadership, determination, and vision during his tenure.”
One thing Perocchi didn't do when he left the Merrimack Valley two decades ago was forget where he came from.
He donated $1 million to help start the fund to build a new facility for the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence on Water Street, one of his favorite hangouts when he was growing up in the city.
"Bill Perocchi is a special, special person. In fact, you have to include his wife, Nanci, too," said former club director Steve Kelley. "What they did for our club and the kids of Lawrence could never be repaid. He helped take our club to another level."
Perocchi and his wife also continued to make donations to other Lawrence-based causes, including Lazarus House.
Perocchi will remain involved with the Pebble Beach organization as a co-chairman of the board of directors. His replacement as CEO will be David Stivers, currently the president of Pebble Beach. Perocchi and Stivers have been working together since before their involvement in Pebble Beach.
“David has played an important role in many areas of our business over the past 21 years,” Perocchi said. “He has been my partner throughout this journey, and I know the company will be in very good hands under his leadership.”
During his retirement, Perocchi plans to spend nearly half of each year in Rye, New Hampshire.
— Bill Burt