Two Suspended County Guards Set for Criminal Trials in Court

By James Kinsella
Gazette Senior Writer

Two guards suspended from the Dukes County House of Correction are scheduled to be tried separately next month in Dukes County Superior Court on a charge of conspiring to persuade one inmate to attack another.

One of the suspended guards, Teejay Roginski, is set to face trial Oct. 5. The other suspended guard, Michael Trance, is scheduled to go to trial Oct. 17.

The criminal trials are among a number of criminal and civil matters set to be heard in a three-week session this month at the Edgartown courthouse by the Hon. Thomas E. Connolly, an associate justice of the superior court.

A grand jury will convene Monday to consider new criminal indictments. The schedule of civil matters will be set Oct. 4.

The Roginski and Trance trials stem from an alleged conspiracy by the guards to persuade an inmate, Jason Labbe, to assault former inmate Paul Garcia. Mr. Labbe allegedly attacked Mr. Garcia in June 2003.

Another inmate, Paul Thistle, made detailed allegations about the assault in letters to former attorney general Scott Harshbarger and to The Boston Globe. An investigative grand jury subsequently indicted Mr. Roginsky and Mr. Trance.

Mr. Thistle said the attack was intended to settle a score between Mr. Roginsky and Mr. Garcia, who formerly had employed Mr. Roginsky's girlfriend and had dismissed her over a financial dispute.

In return for the attack, Mr. Thistle said, the guards promised Mr. Labbe a container of chewing tobacco, to make his incarceration more comfortable, and to get him work details that would lessen his sentence.

In his letters, Mr. Thistle said he told prison officials about the assault. He subsequently was moved to the cell of Mr. Labbe, who he said threatened him and then, in September 2003, assaulted him.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of two and a half years imprisonment or a $2,000 fine.

After the grand jury indicted the guards in May 2004, Sheriff Michael McCormack suspended them without pay.

A civil case that might go to trial is one of three complaints brought by Oak Bluffs businessman Joseph Moujabber against Oak Bluffs town boards over a proposed garage on Sea View avenue extension.

Mr. Moujabber's garage project, which involved the illegal replacement of a one-story garage with a much larger structure, has drawn widespread interest in Oak Bluffs. The town halted the project.

In the superior court case, Mr. Moujabber is suing the Oak Bluffs zoning board of appeals for upholding the revocation of the garage building permit. Board members who voted to uphold the revocation were Gail Barmakian, Jane Lofgren and William Sullivan.

Mr. Moujabber's attorney claims that the decision exceeded the authority of the board and is contrary to state zoning law. He takes particular aim at Ms. Barmakian, an attorney who has represented clients who have opposed permits for Nancy's restaurant. Mr. Moujabber holds an ownership interest in Nancy's, and says Ms. Barmakian should have disqualified herself. He also claims that the building permit was properly issued under town zoning bylaws.

Two other cases filed by Mr. Moujabber in Massachusetts Land Court concerning the garage project have been transferred to superior court, but have yet to go to trial.

A civil case scheduled to go to trial Oct. 17 concerns a former freshman football player at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School who suffered a ruptured spleen while participating in a varsity practice in November 2001.

Cynthia and Kevin Sylvia of Oak Bluffs, the parents of Craig Sylvia, have sued the regional high school district and the player who allegedly injured their son, James L. Cimeno Jr. The Sylvias have sued the district and Mr. Sylvia for negligence and loss of consortium.

The Sylvias claim that their son, a wide receiver who then weighed about 140 pounds, was placed in a practice opposite Mr. Cimeno, a linebacker who weighed about 215 pounds. They claim that Mr. Cimeno used a football maneuver three times that involved striking their son on his torso in the area of the spleen.

The Sylvias claim that their son was in danger of losing his spleen and required hospitalization. The tort claims total $60,132. They requested that the trial be held before November, when their son is scheduled to enter the Navy and will not be available to appear at trial.

As part of its defense, the school states that neither Craig Sylvia nor his parents objected to his participation in the practice, and that the school has used freshman players before in varsity games.

Other civil cases set for possible trial include:

* A medical malpractice case where Sally Sherwood of Edgartown is suing Dr. Kathleen Koehler and Katama Medical Associates Inc. for professional negligence.

In 1995, Ms. Sherwood claims she brought a problem of rectal bleeding to the attention of Dr. Koehler. Ms. Sherwood stated the physician's failure to require a colonoscopy at the time did not catch the development of a cancer that required surgery in 2000. The tort claims total $26,784.

* A worker's compensation claim drawn from a 1998 shooting at the Nip 'N' Tuck Farm in West Tisbury. Timothy Codori is suing Sandra Fisher, executrix of the will of Fred Stanley Fisher Jr.

Mr. Codori claims he was working as a handyman at the farm when a transient shot him in the face. He said he has suffered pain and cannot work at his chosen occupation. When the lawsuit was filed, in 1999, he said he had accumulated $46,000 in medical bills. He claims he should have been covered by worker's compensation insurance.

Ms. Fisher counters that Mr. Codori was working as an independent contractor, and she also states his injury occurred when he was not working.

She claims that a man named Keith Ledoux shot Mr. Codori after Mr. Codori drank eight to 10 beers, assaulted Mr. Ledoux's female companion and then fell asleep. Mr. Ledoux subsequently was convicted for the shooting.

* An enforcement action and contempt complaint brought by Edgartown zoning officer Leonard Jason against Harold Roy Henkin, who owns property on 11th street south in Edgartown, and Manuel Sylvia, who has been in control of the property.

In 2000, Mr. Jason cited the men for a zoning violation when he found 11 unregistered vehicles on the property. In 2001, Mr. Jason returned to find 10 unregistered cars on the property, some the same vehicles he'd seen the previous year.

* A contract dispute between a contractor and the couple for whom he was building a house on Oyster Pond Road in Edgartown. Robert J. Priore states that Maurice H. and Amy Hartigan failed to honor the contract. His claims total at least $89,310, not including attorney's fees. The Hartigans respond that Mr. Priore did not build the house in a workmanlike manner and did not complete it on time.

Additional criminal trials scheduled for the session include:

* An Oct. 11 trial against Brian W. Frost for several alleged drug offenses. Mr. Frost is charged with trafficking in cocaine, possession to distribute heroin and oxycodone, possession of marijuana and conspiring to violate drug laws.

* An Oct. 5 trial against Robert L. Correia, who is charged with a subsequent offense of distributing cocaine, and resisting arrest.