CUMBERLAND – A former attorney general took issue with the current AG over the handling of charges stemming from a home invasion at the former town building inspector's residence.
Jeffrey Pine, now a lawyer in private practice, said Attorney General Peter Kilmartin's press aide “mischaracterized” the reasons for the dismissal of charges against Pine’s client, Christopher Pascale, about two weeks ago.
At the time, AG spokeswoman Amy Kempe said charges were dropped against two of three persons originally arrested because prosecutors hadn't brought evidence before a grand jury within the necessary time frame, but that did not mean the individuals were no longer suspects. She said the investigation into the crime was still open.
“The reason this case was dismissed was not due to any time consideration,” said Pine. “They were dismissed because there was no evidence to indict him.”
Prosecutors still had at least two months to present evidence to a grand jury when the charges were dismissed by a District Court judge, said Pine.
Kempe had said similar charges were also dismissed against another suspect, Kyle English, 20, for the same reasons. Pine said he could not speak for English because he is represented by another lawyer.
But Pine said Pascale could not have committed the Feb. 23 home invasion at the Overhill Road residence of former building inspector Harvey O. Salvas because Pascale was with English “about 20 miles away” at the time. The home invasion reportedly occurred shortly before 10 p.m., around the same time Pascale was eating pizza with English on the East Side of Providence, Pine said.
“It was pretty disingenuous to say it was dismissed on some sort of technicality because that's not the case,” said Pine. “He didn't do it. That should be made clear. He doesn't need to be walking around with some kind of cloud over his head.”
Reached by phone, Kempe reaffirmed the state's position on the facts and declined further comment.
“I'm not going to comment on a defense attorney's position on the matter,” she said.
Salvas, 66, was attacked with a rifle and a sword during the home invasion. He told police the three masked men he discovered in his basement upon returning home fled in his Jeep after a struggle in which a rifle discharged and he was attacked with a sword. Police said Salvas was seriously injured and a half-dozen firearms were stolen in the robbery.
Christopher Duffy, 22, of Cumberland, is the only person facing charges in the incident – 10 criminal counts, including burglary, first-degree robbery and assault on a person over 60 years old resulting in serious bodily injury. A judge set bail on those charges, but he remains held without bail on four unrelated robbery charges lodged against him by Pawtucket police in March, according to court records.
Pine said Pascale and English were implicated in the crime by Duffy.
Pascale's mother, Deborah Flanagan, said her son continues to suffer from the lingering impression that he was involved in the home invasion.
Pascale was enrolled in barber school in Woonsocket when he was arrested, but the ensuing publicity prompted him to quit.
“It's been very difficult for us,” said Flanagan. “I guess a few people made comments to him when he went back to school and he didn't want to keep defending himself. Now he's just waiting to settle this whole situation so he can move on.”
Lawyer Benjamin Mesiti, who represents English, said the reason given by prosecutors for withdrawing the charges was that they were unable to meet their legal deadlines for doing so.
Theoretically, Mesiti said, prosecutors could resurrect the charges, but he doesn't think it will happen.
“My personal opinion is they couldn't get the evidence in front of a grand jury because they really didn't have any evidence,” he said.