, Salem, MA

Local News

October 3, 2013

Ex-owner of sober house jailed again

Viola gets 21/2 years for violating probation


“He said that I could be the guy that could keep him out of jail,” Michael Lutrzykowski, the assistant Salem building inspector, testified.

“It seems like there’s a lot of weird stuff out there, I’ll grant you that,” said Viola’s attorney, Steve Judge, who urged Judge Matthew Machera to simply put Viola back on probation.

Prosecutor Alex Grimes had a different view.

“He has been a scammer and a con man and a thief for his entire life,” said the prosecutor, who argued for at least 21/2 years behind bars.

Viola made waves shortly after buying the building on Salem Street and attempting to open a “sober house,” a largely unregulated rooming house for people dealing with substance abuse. A lengthy legal battle with the city over zoning requirements eventually led to an agreement in which Viola promised to install handicapped-accessible doors and other items on the property.

Meanwhile, police charged him with stealing the identities of three former residents of the building and racking up $25,000 in bills — including Valentine’s Day flowers for both his wife and his girlfriend — on their credit cards.

He was convicted and received a 21/2 year suspended sentence and five years of probation, which he’s been accused of violating several times. Among the conditions of his probation was that he cut ties to the sober house.

Then, in March of this year, Viola walked into the city’s building department seeking a permit for renovations in a store that is part of the building, employees of the department testified.

Assuming that Viola was simply dropping off an application for the contractor, officials issued the permit.

When they realized that the contractor hadn’t actually sought the permit, they issued a cease-and-desist order, building inspector Tom St. Pierre testified.

Viola took the stand in his own defense during the probation violation hearing, denying that he owns the house. He insisted that the building is owned by his 25-year-old daughter — who still lives at home, attends school and is supported by her parents.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News

AP Video
Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires
Comments Tracker