Tom’s office is a national leader on solving homicides. His office has a 95% homicide solve rate, while the national average is just 54%. In Massachusetts, the district attorney’s office leads all homicide investigations. At a time when numerous areas throughout the country are seeing their homicide solve rates plummet and their violent crime rates increase, Bristol County can be proud to know the opposite is occurring here in Southeastern Massachusetts.
Tom is the only DA in the state to start up an Untested Rape Kits Initiative after discovering and exposing a massive statewide failure. While investigating a cold case homicide from New Bedford, Tom learned that several thousand rape kits from throughout Massachusetts were never fully tested by the state lab. Tom strongly believed that victims of sex assault deserved answers and deserved justice. Thanks to Tom securing a federal grant, devoting an immense amount of office resources to locally solve a growing failure at the state level, Bristol County is the only county in the state to have its share of the untested rape kits tested by a private lab. Every previously untested rape kit in Bristol County will be fully tested by the end of this year. No other county in the state can say that. Tom’s initiative has already resulted in criminal charges being brought in two separate brutal cold case rapes from more than a decade ago, and more rape cases will undoubtedly be solved in the very near future.
Tom started a first of its kind Elder Fraud Unit to protect our seniors from fraud and abuse through new investigatory resources, tougher prosecutions and a unique educational prevention initiative. Tom, along with members of this specialized unit, has personally visited every senior center and council on aging in the county multiple times to present this prevention program to seniors, to those who care for seniors and to organizations that work with seniors. Tom’s office also hosts an annual Celebration of Seniors event where several hundred seniors from throughout the county gather together for a full-day conference which includes expert speakers and several dozen vendors who provide resources to seniors. Protecting our elders from abuse, scams and financial exploitation is the cornerstone of Tom’s administration.
Tom created a Cold Case Unit and a one of a kind DNA testing initiative to thoroughly review unsolved homicides and violent sexual assaults from previous administrations. Through these efforts, his office has solved several cold case homicides and the horrific case of a serial rapist from the late 1990s. Tom’s DNA initiative has also resulted in a number of hits and connections to ongoing investigations that are likely to result in more cases solved and more violent felons off the streets.
Tom’s office successfully investigated, brought charges and won convictions in two of the most high-profile cases in the entire country this century. While many other prosecuting offices often falter and make errors that result in acquittals of prominent defendants when the national spotlight is on them, Tom’s office has performed under pressure. Tom’s office won a First Degree Murder conviction against former Patriots all-pro Aaron Hernandez despite the defendant spending millions on his “dream team” defense lawyers and the persistent national media attention on every detail of the case. Then, just a few short years later, Tom’s office was once again under the withering glow of national media attention during the investigation and the successful prosecution of Michelle Carter for the shocking involuntary manslaughter of a young man from Fairhaven.
Tom has fought hard to keep the most violent criminals off the streets by utilizing “dangerousness hearings” to protect the community and vulnerable victims. During the pandemic shutdowns, Tom was successful in leading the effort to prevent the wholesale release of dangerous defendants and convicts. He has also successfully worked with our local legislative delegation to update the state’s dangerousness statute so that fewer defendants deemed dangerous by a judge are returned to the streets after just a few months.
Tom has brought law enforcement together from the local, county, state and federal level to dismantle numerous high-level narcotics trafficking rings and seize massive amount of Fentanyl, Heroin and Cocaine. These lethal narcotics, especially fentanyl, are contributing to the ongoing overdose and addiction epidemic plaguing communities in every corner of America. Although it is nearly impossible to fully stop the flow of opiates like fentanyl and heroin into the region, Tom’s office has taken an immense amount of opiates off the streets during his time in office.
Tom knows that fighting the scourge of opiate abuse and overdoses is not just about investigations and prosecutions. His office has been a statewide leader on a number of prevention programs. Tom has hosted a Teen Safety Summit every year since he took office, has provided an educational program called “Hidden in Plain Sight” specifically tailored for parents, has partnered with Cory’s Cause to bring presentations into the schools from a former Taunton all-star athlete whose dreams were shattered by a sports injury that led him to a life of addiction and formed the Bristol Alliance to bring together various stakeholders throughout the region to help end the opiate crisis locally. Tom also partnered with the Katie Brown Program to provide in-school education programs on healthy dating relationships and domestic violence, helped get a Unity Basketball League started in Fall River, and hosts youth sports clinics and a heavily attended Family Field Day every year.
Tom strongly believes in a balanced approach to prosecution and is a huge supporter of various diversion programs. His office partnered with New Bedford Police and Seven Hills Behavioral Health to form the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion(LEAD) program. LEAD is an adult pre-arraignment diversion program for those who would be charged with possessing narcotics. In the short time the program has been in effect there have been more than 100 successfully diverted cases. Plans are now in place to expand the program to Taunton. Tom is also a supporter of Bristol County’s four drug courts and has a prosecutor assigned to each of them, has established a juvenile diversion program to set youthful offenders on the right path before they get into serious trouble and has top staff members volunteer with the Youth Courts in New Bedford and Fall River.
Tom has shown integrity, fairness and a strong conscience when it comes to defendants being over-charged or over-sentenced. For example, Tom is the "first" district attorney to testify in support of a commutation. He recently testified in support of Thomas Koonce being granted a commutation of his conviction from first degree to second degree murder. Koonce was a very young black man convicted of first degree murder in the 1980s who Tom strongly felt should not serve his entire life in prison due to questions about whether it was a pre-meditated murder and the defendant’s stellar record as a model inmate and mentor to others while incarcerated, Although the case pre-dates Tom’s time as DA, Tom took the time to review the facts and circumstances of the case and was troubled that justice was not done in Mr. Koonce’s case. Several Governor’s Councilors holding the hearing this past January called Tom’s testimony in support of the commutations a “courageous act” that they had “never seen a DA make,” called him “a man of the highest integrity” and said Tom is “running the fairest DA’s office in the state.” Tom believes in fair and equal justice for all. That is why he directs all the prosecutors in his office to make charging decisions and sentence recommendations based solely on the facts and circumstances of the case, and the defendant’s prior record.
Tom has been a longtime supporter of the Bristol County Children’s Advocacy Center, through both financial expenditures and staffing support. The CAC provides a supportive environment for children to discuss criminal trauma and abuse they have endured. Tom has hired two trained forensic interviewers to work at the CAC, financially supported the expansion of the CAC and recently paid for a highly-trained support dog named Chief to provide invaluable support to children during the intensely stressful forensic interview process. In just his first month on the job, Chief provided crucial support to a young sexual abuse victim who appeared to be unable to testify on he eve of trial. Thanks to Chief, the girl’s attitude and demeanor completely changed and she became confident and self-assured about taking the witness stand. Her testimony led to the conviction and imprisonment of a child rapist.
Tom has the experience necessary to do the job. Tom has spent decades both prosecuting and defending those charged with serious criminal offenses. After serving for several years as a Superior Court prosecutor, Tom spent many years as a defense attorney, handling the most serious cases in the county. He then served as the First Assistant District Attorney, overseeing all Superior Court cases for eight years prior to becoming the district attorney. This is a difficult and complex job and Tom has the experience, proven track record of success, integrity and temperament for the job.