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I-Team: More Violent Criminals Getting Parole

By Joe Shortsleeve, WBZ-TV Chief Correspondent
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WBZ-TV's Joe Shortsleeve Joe Shortsleeve
Joe Shortsleeve is chief correspondent for WBZ-TV News weekdays a...
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BOSTON (CBS) – There are dangerous criminals in our neighborhoods and on our streets. An I-Team investigation reveals just how many have been walking out the front door of state prisons for years.

I tracked one career criminal who is now on his way back to prison… again.

WBZ-TV Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve reports

Thirty-three-year-old Raymond Wallace is familiar with handcuffs, court rooms and prison cells.

On this day in a Salem courtroom, the prosecutor tells the judge, “Your honor, we would like to hold Mr. Wallace on $1 million cash bail.”

On Saint Patrick’s’ Day, Salem Police say Wallace was heavily armed and wearing a mask just like the one in the movie ‘The Town’ when he held up a Pet Smart store. None of this would have happened if he had not been paroled from a maximum security prison 18 months earlier.

“Somebody who devotes their whole life to crime puts everybody in danger and makes it tough on police who are constantly re-arresting them,” said Salem Police Lieutenant Conrad Prosniewski.

“The Commonwealth will be adding the charge of habitual offender your honor,” said prosecutor AJ Camelio to the judge.

Wallace walked out of prison in 2009 after serving time for terrorizing Waltham store owner Rick Pizzi during an armed robbery in 2001. Wallace was wearing a full ninja outfit. After a bloody gun battle with police, Wallace was sent to state prison

for a maximum ten-year sentence but was paroled after eight.

Documents obtained by the I-Team show that in 2007, Wallace was “not ready for community supervision.”

In 2008, records show he had “disciplinary reports which include fighting.”

Yet in 2009, the parole board determined “he is ready for community supervision.”

Rick Pizzi was asked by Joe Shortsleeve, “What do you think about a system where this type of character is paroled?”

“Well, it is not a very good system at all,” responded Pizzi.

The system that let Raymond Wallace go free is the same system that allowed Domenic Cennelli to walk out.

Cennelli is the violent felon who shot and killed Woburn police officer Jack Maguire in a parking lot the day after Christmas. Unfortunately tragic consequences are nothing new.

Melissa Gosule was murdered 12 years ago by a habitual violent criminal out on parole.

The 27-year-old’s father, Les, knows what it is like to lose someone. “We always loved you Melissa,” he recounted. “We loved you without end. We wish as a family we could give her a hug.”

The Gosule family joined officer Maguire’s brother at the statehouse recently to push for tougher sentences. 

So how many maximum security inmates have been getting paroled?

In 2007, the I-Team found that only 27 left before serving their full sentence. As the recession gripped the state, the number jumped in 2008 to 49.

In 2009, it was 48. And by last year, that number was at 51. That is a four-year total of 175.

State Senator James Timilty, the Chairman of the Public Safety Committee on Beacon Hill, believes shrinking budgets have made it easier for dangerous criminals to go free.

I asked him, “Do you think that money is behind this?”

“Yes…I would think so……..absolutely!” he responded. “Is that strain on their budget escalating the pressure for re-entry as opposed to be being ready for re-entry?”

I added, “Do you think it is?”

“I would say based on the numbers that is probably a fact,” answered Timilty.

While the pressure on state budgets is not getting any better look for the number of maximum security parolees to drop significantly. There is a new parole board and the new chairman tells the I-Team prison over crowding is not his problem.

As for Raymond Wallace he now faces the possibility of life in prison without parole.

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