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Refusal to Answer

FOIA MA State Police Letter2

The official Massachusetts State Police statement on the 5 men and 2 women arrested for trespassing near the largest man-made water reservoir in the U.S. just days after the Boston Marathon bombings is “no comment,” but that’s not the end of the story.

Publicly, MSP cannot legally release the names or other information about the 7 individuals because they haven’t been officially charged with any crimes, despite the state police department’s efforts to reverse that decision by a magistrate judge from the East Hampshire District Court which serves Belchertown, MA where the reservoir is located.

Clerk Randal Smith would not release the date of the judicial review of the clerk’s decision, citing statutes that require information be withheld from the public until a complaint is filed. Radio host and blogger Michael Graham has a bit more information, as provided by MSP Spokesperson David Procopio:

“In summary, the Quabbin case has not advanced at the Belchertown District Court since the original MSP appeal in May. At that time, the Assistant Clerk Magistrate determined that there was probable cause, yet ruled that no complaint would be filed. Subsequent to that finding, because we believe the complaint should issue so that there is a record of a charge against these individuals, we requested judicial review of the clerk’s decision (basically asking that a judge at the court review the case and issue the complaints).

We think it is important to create a record within the judicial system that the individuals were observed trespassing at a critical infrastructure site at an odd hour (around midnight or so) and gave the stated reason that they had professional and academic interest in engineering and wanted to observe the water storage structure.

Since that time, we have made periodic inquires to the court to determine the status of the case. After receiving your inquiry, we made inquiry of the court again today. Today’s inquiry resulted in the court telling us that the case will be heard by the Belchertown District Court Justice on either September 25th or October 2nd. When the appeal is heard, the Justice may make a summary finding or take it under consideration for a future finding.”

Perhaps the intense confidentiality and confusion related to the MSP complaint and any information on the individuals involved can be explained by the “on-going criminal matter” as described in the Freedom of Information Act request response from the Office of Chief Legal Counsel for the Massachusetts State Police. See page 2 of the response below.
FOIA MA State Police Letter 1

Major media outlets have largely ignored any follow-up on this story, originally reported at CDN in May 2013. Shortly after the trespassing incident, padlocks were cut at an aqueduct in the area that provides drinking water for the greater Boston area.
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To see the early coverage of the trespassing incident, click here:

Questions Remain After 7 Arrested For Trespassing

Massachusetts State Police Unhappy With Clerk Decision
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