Man in stolen car sets off chase with 19 police cars

A man who led authorities on a chase involving 19 police vehicles which ended in Haverhill told police when arrested that he "didn't feel like stopping."

Police said the chase began early Wednesday morning of last week in Danville and ended on 13th Avenue in Haverhill.

Anthony Earl, 29, of 24 Sanborn St., Danville, was driving a stolen vehicle when he was arrested, police said.

Earl is charged with operating under the influence of liquor (second offense), receiving a stolen motor vehicle, unlicensed operation, leaving the scene of property damage, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, defacing property, possession of burglarious tools and failure to stop for police. He was arraigned last Wednesday in Haverhill District Court, where the judge ordered $50,000 cash bail.

During the chase, Earl ran over "stop sticks" deployed by officers in an attempt to stop the 2003 Chevy Express he was driving, causing the two rear tires to blow out and eventually fall off, police said.

Police said Earl kept driving on two bare rims, gouging the pavement along North Avenue, Main Street, 14th Avenue, Cedar Street and 13th Avenue in Haverhill.

When Earl finally came to a stop, police found that he was in possession of tools used in burglaries, which they believed to have been used to disassemble the dash panel on the driver side of the stolen van.

Earl was slurring his speech, smelled of alcohol and was so unsteady on his feet that officers had to hold him to prevent him from falling over, police said

Police said Earl was previously convicted in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, of operating under the influence of liquor.

During Earl's arraignment, Assistant District Attorney John DePaulo told Judge Patricia Dowling that Earl is a habitual offender with a substantial New Hampshire record that includes operating under the influence of alcohol with a very high breathalyzer reading, a habitual offender penalty that was taken out against him for past criminal activities, and various burglary charges.

DePaulo requested Earl be held on $100,000 cash bail.

"He's facing problems in New Hampshire as a result of this also," DePaulo said.

Earl's defense lawyer, Lee Graham, noted that Earl's mother, with whom he lives, was in the courtroom. He said Earl takes medication for epilepsy, is single but has two children, and although he is gainfully employed does not have the ability to post the high bail DePaulo requested.

"He tells me he has an alcohol issue that he has not gotten help for," Graham said.

The judge set bail at $50,000 cash, issued a 90-day warning, and scheduled a pretrial hearing for Dec. 11.

According to a police report on file in Haverhill District Court, approximately 1:30 a.m. last Wednesday, Haverhill police were advised that various New Hampshire law enforcement agencies were chasing a stolen van that was heading south on North Avenue, which links Plaistow and Haverhill. Police were told the van's rear tires were off the rims and the van wasn't stopping.

Police said the van turned onto Main Street in Haverhill, then 14th Avenue, then Cedar Street, running a stop sign. A Brentwood police cruiser attempted to box the van in, but was rear-ended by the van, police said. The driver of the van then turned onto 13th Avenue, where it stopped in the area of 20 13th Ave., police said.

A Danville police officer took Earl into custody without incident, police said. However, police said he berated them and called them various derogatory names.

Earl, who smelled of alcohol, told police he didn't care that he was being chased, and that he "didn't feel like stopping," according to a police report.

While being booked, Earl refused to complete a field sobriety test and refused to submit to a breathalyzer test, police said. In inventorying his belongings, police said they found a small black case containing screwdrivers and torx bits. When asked about the tools, Earl offered no reasonable explanation as to why he would be carrying those around, police said.

— Mike LaBella


Merrimack College students support the homeless

Put aside your image of beer-drinking, partying frat boys.

It certainly doesn't apply to the 50 brothers of the Sigma Kappa chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon, or TKE, who have teamed up with Lazarus House of Lawrence for an unusual fundraiser.

Every night last week, a half-dozen or so members of the TKE fraternity at Merrimack College spent a night in an on-campus shelter made of pallets, tarps and cardboard boxes. The out-of-place structure, built recently by TKE members, is located near the Sakowich Center -- the heart and soul of the college.

On Wednesday morning of last week, Lazarus House officials visited the site, which is being used as a hub of fundraising for the homeless shelter, soup kitchen, thrift shop and job-training organization.

Michael Neff, a Merrimack senior from Danvers and president of TKE, said the annual encampment, which has been going on for at least 10 years, is a great way to raise money for a good cause while also raising awareness and learning about the plight of the homeless.

"The night shift starts at 7 p.m.," he said. "We usually have five to six brothers staying in the box overnight."

In addition, someone is always scheduled to stand outside the shelter during the day, holding a can and a message scrawled on a piece of cardboard, seeking donations.

"This helps us and other students learn about some of the struggles homeless people go through to get shelter," Neff said, adding that while last year the fraternity collected about $3,500, this year the goal is to make $5,000. Once all the money is collected, he said, the fraternity will give a check to Lazarus House.

TKE has also placed bins around campus for a coat drive, Neff said.

"We are collecting coats, hats, gloves, any kind of apparel they want to give away," he said.

The whole campus seems to be getting into the spirit.

One sorority donated pizzas to the guys spending the night in the shelter, dining services at the school gives them hot chocolate, and other Greek organizations are donating food and money to the cause.

This year, as in years past, the weather has made it that much more real.

"Every year, we have weather complications," Neff said. "Last year, we held it in December, and we were fighting wind storms and snow. This year, it's been raining all week. But we are still committed to it."

— Bill Kirk


Lawmakers want college athletes to be paid

College athletes rake in billions of dollars a year for their schools, cable networks and collegiate associations, but they aren't allowed to be compensated for their talents.

A proposal filed by members of the Massachusetts Legislature's Black and Latino Caucus would open the doors for athletes to get some of that money. It would prevent public and private colleges from revoking scholarships because a student gets paid for the use of their name, image and likeness, or hires a sports agent or lawyer.

The bill would also violate current rules by National Collegiate Athletic Association, which governs more than 1,100 schools and nearly 500,000 student athletes across the country.

Still, backers of the plan say it would ensure that college athletes, especially students from low-income families, get a fair share of revenue from their talents.

"Some of these student-athletes come from poor families who are really struggling," said state Rep. Frank Moran, D-Lawrence, one of the bill's primary sponsors. "They're generating tens of millions of dollars for these colleges, so it's only fair that they get some of those benefits to help alleviate some of their financial hardships."

State Rep. Marcos Devers, D-Lawrence, also supports allowing student athletes to be compensated, but said he wants to ensure it won’t affect academic programs.

"The main purpose of going to college is to achieve academic goals, not just sports," he said. "But sports is a big business, and they're making a lot of money off these kids."

While the law won't force colleges to pay students, it will allow student-athletes to get paid for endorsement deals and hire agents when the new rules take effect.

Schools would be required to create a fund to help injured athletes and set aside 15% of revenue from ticket sales to be divided among student athletes and for sports programs.

The proposal also would establish a new regulatory process for registering agents to represent student-athletes, which would be overseen by the Secretary of State's office.

The proposal is modeled after California's Fair Pay to Play Act, which was recently signed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The California law, which goes into effect in 2023, upends the NCAA's prohibition on athletes receiving compensation beyond room, board and a free education. It is also touching off a race by other states to adopt similar changes so their colleges don’t lose top talent to the West Coast.

Last month, the NCAA's top governing board signaled in response to the California law that it might be softening its stance on prohibiting athletes from being paid. The move represents a major shift for the organization, which has historically been steadfast in banning compensation of athletes in order to preserve its amateurism rules.

But the NCAA’s three divisions haven't released any details of a plan.

Legislatures in a dozen states are considering their own rules for student-athletes.

There are 38 NCAA Division 1 schools in Massachusetts, including Boston University, Harvard University, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Merrimack College.

Spokespeople for several colleges and universities contacted for this story didn't respond to requests for comment, even though their student-athletes would be affected if the proposal is passed on Beacon Hill.

A spokesman for the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts said the organization is still reviewing the proposal and hasn't taken a position.

The NCAA says any changes to its rules on student-athletes would require them to be "treated similarly to non-athlete students."

It also stipulated that college athletes must not be paid for playing or be considered employees of their respective universities, and that there should be a "clear distinction between collegiate and professional opportunities."

"We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes," said Michael Drake, chairman of the NCAA’s Board of Governors and president of The Ohio State University, in a statement. "Additional flexibility in this area can and must continue to support college sports as a part of higher education."

— Christian M. Wade


Local girl grows 14-pound cabbage for the win

A third-grader earned national recognition and a $1,000 scholarship by growing a colossal cabbage in her backyard.

Nadia Taboucherani of Methuen, a student at Fellowship Christian Academy, was handed a palm-sized potted plant at school in late May as part of Bonnie Plant's Cabbage Program. She took it home and, by the end of July, grew leafy greens large enough to hide behind.

Nadia's school is one of 126 across the state that participated in the program for third-graders this year. The sponsoring company has trucked out free, oversize cabbage plants to classrooms across the country since 2002. Organizers hope to cultivate an interest in youngsters to care for their own food.

After about 10 weeks — when the plants are estimated to peak — participating third-grade teachers choose the best cabbage in the class based on size or appearance. Bonnie Plants collects those entries and numbers them. State agriculture departments choose winners at random.

Other area schools that participated this year include West Elementary in Andover, as well as Marsh Grammar School, Donald P. Timony Grammar and the Islamic Academy for Peace, all in Methuen.

A spokesperson for Bonnie Plants said Massachusetts doesn't have as many participating schools as other states and the company hopes to expand participation next year.

A taste for cabbage isn't required.

Nadia admits she isn't likely to dive fork-first into a bowl of the steaming vegetable. Instead, she gifted her giant plant to a neighbor, who made a Spanish dish from it.

The head of the cabbage weighed in at 14 pounds — the equivalent to roughly 63 cups.

"I was surprised I won," Nadia said. "I watered it every day and turned it to the sun."

Carrie Taboucherani said her daughter's school project was a continuation of some gardening lessons already happening at home.

"I do the yard gardening and Nadia helps with watering the marigolds, impatiens, lilies," she said.

Her daughter's class also talked about growing healthy foods.

Interested teachers can visit

— Breanna Edelstein


Haverhill cops help send 2 to prison for regional drug trafficking

Haverhill police helped with a regional probe that led to two Merrimack Valley residents being sentenced in federal court last week for participating in a large-scale fentanyl trafficking conspiracy, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Scott W. Murray.

According to court documents and statements made in court, a drug trafficking organization led by Sergio Martinez sold fentanyl to customers from various New England states, including New Hampshire.

“The Martinez drug trafficking organization facilitated the sale of large quantities of lethal fentanyl to residents of New Hampshire,” Murray said. “This was a large-scale criminal enterprise that reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits and caused untold misery to its customers and their families. These sentences should serve as a warning that long federal prison terms await those who choose to distribute fentanyl in New Hampshire.”

Wagner Pimentel, 30, of Methuen worked for the Martinez organization, delivering 200-gram bags of fentanyl to runners who also worked for the organization, according to the statement. He also collected money made from drug sales from the runners, according to Murray.

Lawrence resident Luz Perez DeMartinez, 27, wife of the organization’s leader, facilitated various financial aspects of the drug business, according to the statement. She collected, counted and processed hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits generated by drug sales, according to Murray.

She also paid salaries to some of the organization’s employees and collected money to post bail for certain employees who were arrested, according to the statement. She also wired drug proceeds out of the country, according to Murray.

The statement said Pimentel previously pleaded guilty on March 15 and DeMartinez previously pleaded guilty on Feb. 12.

Pimentel was sentenced to nine years in prison and DeMartinez was sentenced to 11 years in prison and a $50,000 fine, according to the statement.

After serving his sentence, Pimental could be deported to the Dominican Republic, according to Murray.

The case was a collaborative investigation that involved the the Haverhill Police Department, the Methuen Police Department, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, the New Hampshire State Police, the Massachusetts State Police, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office, the Essex County District Attorney’s Office, the Internal Revenue Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, United States Customs and Border Protection Boston Field Office, the United States Marshals Service, the United States Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, the Lowell Police Department, and the Maine State Police.

“DEA is committed to investigating Drug Trafficking Organizations and individuals like Mr. Pimentel and Ms. DeMartinez who are responsible for distributing lethal drugs like fentanyl to the citizens of New Hampshire,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian Boyle. “Today’s substantial sentence not only holds both accountable for their crimes but serves as a warning to those traffickers who are fueling the opioid epidemic with deadly drugs in order to profit and destroy people’s lives. DEA’s top priority is combating the opioid epidemic by working with our local, state and federal partners to bring to justice anyone who distributes this poison.”

The case was being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Georgiana L. Konesky and Seth R. Aframe.

— Erin Nolan



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