New England Muckrakers

Notable investigative stories from newspapers, websites and TV and radio newsrooms in the six New England states plus “Citizen Muckraker” reports.

Recent Posts

Maine responders need to be better prepared to fight Lac Mégantic-type derailment

Less than a year ago, a runaway train carrying crude oil derailed in Lac-Mégantic, a small Quebec town ten miles from the Maine border. Thousands of gallons of the highly flammable crude oil spilled from ruptured tank cars, setting off fireballs in the town’s center that killed 47 people and destroyed 30 buildings. Some bodies were likely vaporized and never identified. In Maine, trains carrying the same crude oil have been passing through dozens of communities, many as close to homes, businesses and people as in Lac-Mégantic. Click here to read the full story Continue Reading →

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Pregnant prisoners are losing their shackles

WHEN HER LABOR STARTED in the middle of the night, Benidalys Rivera’s contractions were painful and regularly three minutes apart. Correctional officers clamped on handcuffs for her ride from the Western Massachusetts Regional Women’s Correctional Center in Chicopee to a local hospital. Her contractions had done nothing to dilate her cervix. In her hospital room, Rivera was shackled by one ankle to the bed; the restraints would be removed only when she reached “active labor.” After awhile, Rivera was given morphine to rest, and Vicki Elson, a volunteer doula, or woman’s delivery coach, massaged her feet and back. Click here to read the full story Continue Reading →

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Car buyers should question documentation fees

The State Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation suggests consumers demand an itemized list of fees on a contract before buying  a car. The state surveyed over 180 car dealerships in 2011 and found that many auto dealerships charge “documentation preparation” fees.  The fees ranged in price from $45 to $399 and the list of reasons for the charges were varied.  Some dealerships claim they have to charge for document storage, administrative costs, contract preparation, some said they are required by law and several even claimed a Homeland Security charge. Click here to read the full story Continue Reading →

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Sen. Jackson’s bill designed to help local man avoid fines for lake development

A state senator and candidate for Congress last month tried to get special legislation passed to help a single constituent by undoing at least part of a legal agreement with the state designed to protect a lake in Aroostook County. State Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, said his bill would allow the constituent to avoid $109,000 in fines and also let him maintain the Long Lake property in a way the state said would violate the law and pollute the lake. Click here to read the full story Continue Reading →

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Cranston to fire police captain in ticket blitz

Months after the NBC 10 I-Team revealed a parking ticket blitz in Cranston, Mayor Allan Fung on Thursday called for the firing of one of the city's top police officers. "Today we are announcing a recommendation, that is a recommendation of termination for Cranston Police Capt. Stephen Antonucci," Fung said. Fung said a state police investigation found it was Capt. Stephen Antonucci who ordered patrol officers to hand out more than 100 parking tickets. Click here to read the full story Continue Reading →

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Bridgewater restraints use rose, even after patient’s death

For more than a decade, officials at Bridgewater State Hospital have been promising to cut down on the increasingly discredited practice of restraining mentally ill men, strapping their wrists and ankles to a bed, or isolating them in small cells for days or even weeks at a time. But statistics provided to the Globe show that the state’s most secure psychiatric facility actually increased its reliance on restraints and isolation over the past decade, even after a Bridgewater patient died in 2009 while being restrained and other mental health facilities have moved decisively away from those tactics. Click here to read the full story Continue Reading →

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The inside story of MIT and Aaron Swartz

The mysterious visitor called himself Gary Host at first, then Grace Host, which he shortened for his made-up e-mail address to “ghost,” a joke apparently, perhaps signaling mischievousness — or menace. The intruder was lurking somewhere on the MIT campus, downloading academic journal articles by the hundreds of thousands. The interloper was eventually traced to a laptop under a box in a basement wiring closet. He was Aaron Swartz, a brilliant young programmer and political activist. The cascade of events that followed would culminate in tragedy: a Secret Service investigation, a federal prosecution, and ultimately Swartz’s suicide. Continue Reading →

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Special Report: Charting implementation of the Affordable Care Act in New England

In this article, VTDigger assesses the impact of the Affordable Care Act in the six New England states. Our analysis is based on spending and enrollment data for federally qualified health plans. The landmark federal health care law recently marked its fourth anniversary, and online insurance marketplaces were launched six months ago. Click here to read the full report Continue Reading →

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$3m settlement reached in Bridgewater hospital death

The parents of a 23-year-old mental health patient who died at Bridgewater State Hospital five years ago will receive $3 million to settle a civil rights lawsuit alleging that prison guards were responsible for their son’s death, according to Benjamin R. Novotny, an attorney for the parents. The settlement, disclosed Tuesday, follows a February Boston Globe report detailing the death of Joshua K. Messieras he lay strapped to a bed while seven prison guards stood by. A subsequent investigation by Governor Deval Patrick’s administration led him to place three of the guards on paid administrative leave and formally reprimand two top correction officials while asking for the resignation of a third. Click here to read the full story Continue Reading →

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For Jared Remy, leniency was the rule until one lethal night

Jared Remy had glided through his first five criminal cases, but prosecutors thought the sixth one would be different. Compared to what he had been charged with in the past — beating and choking his ex-girlfriend while she held their baby, cracking a friend over the head with a beer bottle in a jealous fit, elbowing and cursing out a police officer — the case that landed in Lowell District Court in January 2001 seemed minor: Threatening to commit a crime. Click here to read the full story Continue Reading →

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