Lightbody Arrest Brings Question about Charging Decisions, Intervention

The arrest of Revere businessman Charlie Lightbody last October was certainly a significant chapter in the annals of the ongoing casino battle in Revere, but while the situation was hot news all over Greater Boston back then, it’s largely taken an exit from the public square.

However, for those on the inside – including Lightbody and several City and court officials – the battle rages on as Lightbody’s attorney, Tim Flaherty, has filed several requests and a provocative internal Revere Police Department documents that hint at a possible conspiracy to arrest the anti-casino advocate Lightbody and squash any charges against the other person involved, Suffolk Downs employee Louis Ciarlone.

“I am not sure what events intervened from the meeting in your office when two patrol commanders met with you and it was decided to arrest Mr. Lightbody as the primary aggressor…,” read a November internal Revere Police e-mail to superior officers from the officer in charge on the day of Lightbody’s arrest. “I recall that it was agreed to arrest Mr. Lightbody and seek a hearing on the other participant (Ciarlone). I think it is important to note that as a result of the meeting in your office I explained to Attorney Flaherty that a hearing would be sought for the other involved person. After speaking with (the arresting officer) two days later he indicated the Criminal Investigation Division commander had new discovery and a hearing would not be sought…In dissent, I believe a hearing should have been sought for both parties in order to have a neutral magistrate determine probable cause and shield the department from any vicarious liability in a protected First Amendment informational picket.”

The conspiracy claims based on that e-mail and other events are something that City officials vehemently deny, saying Lightbody is only trying to save himself from another felony conviction (he’s charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon on a person over 60). They say it is Monday morning quarterbacking to alleged some sort of cover up and conspiracy, and that it is an effort to slander the City and its police force.

“If there were ever any type of cover up event, appropriate action would have been taken,” said Mayor Dan Rizzo this week. “I have full confidence in that…Honestly, this is not even something I’m concentrating on right now. Mohegan Sun and the casino debate are really important right now. I’m really trying to stay focused on that. As far as any civil litigation that’s going on, that will be decided by a court.”

One thing that is certain amongst the dueling opinions:  the issue is far from dead.

The situation began last October when the casino fight was at its zenith. On Oct. 12, a casino rally took place on Broadway near the Central Fire Station. On one side were the pro-casino folks, headed up by Ciarlone, and on the other side were the anti-casino folks, headed up by Lightbody.

The details of the event are fuzzy – a  multiple witnesses have multiple stories as to who actually started the fracas – but the accusations are that Ciarlone pushed an anti-casino sign into Lightbody’s face and injured his face. Ciarlone then allegedly was slapped by Lightbody in the face, causing a broken nose.

The determination for police, according to the original police report, was to charge both men and let it get sorted out in court. Somehow, that changed, and Flaherty is concerned that someone might have intervened to cause the change.

“I was a witness to the events when my client and I went to the police station for him to turn himself in on the day of the incident,” Flaherty said on Tuesday after a hearing in Chelsea District Court. “The [officer in charge] got a phone call while we were sitting there. He appeared agitated and wasn’t happy with what he was hearing. When he hung up the phone, he indicated that he had to arrest my client. That wasn’t the plan before the phone call, and putting two and two together, we assume that someone must have intervened in the process.”

Flaherty has made numerous requests for detailed call logs and cell phone records, and he said privately and in court last Tuesday that the records he has received are not adequate.

For example, he said he has requested cell phone records for detailed individuals during the arresting period. To date, he said he has only gotten official call logs with minimal information such as are provided to the media every day.

There was even a court order by Judge Matt Nestor – who was visibly agitated by the behavior of both sides at last Tuesday’s hearing – for all discovery to be turned in by June 2. Flaherty said the Revere Police have prevented the DA’s Office from fully complying to his satisfaction.

“The point of this motion for information was to ferret out whether there was any undue influence placed on charging decisions that day,” he told the Journal. “We’re of the position that if Mr. Lightbody was going to be arrested and charged, then Mr. Ciarlone should have been arrested and charged. All the sudden the charging decisions changed. What we want to determine is if there was any communication within the Revere Police Department or outside the Revere Police Department directing the charging decisions to be made in such a way that Mr. Lightbody was the only one charged. From the [information] we’ve received, those questions still remain unanswered.”

Mayor Rizzo said there may be no need to even go down such a road to answer questions with call logs and cell phone records – things that perhaps only add to the grey areas that give birth to allegations of conspiracies an cover ups.

He said there is video evidence, and it might tell the story better than anything else.

“My understanding is there is video that is being used as evidence,” he said. “If there is something that shows a need to bring any kind of charges, that video would certainly show it. My chief, number one, would never condone any type of cover up…From the standpoint of the City, neither myself nor Chief Cafarelli would ever tolerate anyone who would cover something up. In the end, this is going to be decided in court. Remember, one person left in an ambulance and the other didn’t. At some point, people have to see through things like this.”

That said, questions still remain about what happened on that day – questions that are driven by the internal Revere Police e-mail and the original police report written by Officer Carlos Amaro (who is now no longer with the department due to unrelated allegations of theft).

Such questions revolve around a paragraph from the officer in charge’s e-mail alluding to a rumor of secret meetings.

“I have received uncorroborated information that Members of the Executive Branch of this city government have recently conducted a clandestine meeting with both participants in order to circumvent the judicial process of resolving this very serious criminal matter,” it read. “The meeting was conducted in the absence of any District Attorney and without the knowledge of any District Attorney. I pray this purported intervention in a criminal case by members of our city government is only a rumor…Personally, I am outraged at the notion that my diligent dedication to professional police standards could be referred to as a ‘Song and Dance Routine.’ I encourage this honorable department to investigate the information I received and inform all members of the city police and government to maintain discipline in this event.”

A further hearing on the case has been set up by Judge Nestor in Chelsea for next Tuesday, July 22.

“This is enough already from both sides,” he said Tuesday morning. “I’ll only give this another day or two for them to call the police and straighten this out…We’ve already had seven court dates.”

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