, Salem, MA

October 5, 2013

Still 'working' at 72


---- — SALEM — Career criminals don’t usually have a retirement plan.

So, at age 72, Harry J. Boutin is still getting into trouble with the law.

On Thursday Boutin — the name is one of 16 aliases he’s used during his 53-year criminal history, court records show — was spotted climbing through a kitchen window on Valley Street in Salem, police said — while he was still on probation in a South Boston burglary case.

The resident told police she walked in and saw the top half of a man in the kitchen window, struggling. She yelled “Get out!”

The gray-haired man jumped backward out the window, landing on top of an outdoor table that he’d apparently pushed up against the house to allow him to gain entry.

The woman, who was still shaking as she spoke to police, followed at a distance as the man ran to a neighbor’s yard, hopped on a bike, grabbed a black bag and then pedaled away toward Gallows Hill Road, according to the report.

Salem Patrolman Eric Manninen stopped the suspect, who was riding a Huffy bike, on Shillaber Street.

“Why are you harassing an old guy?” Boutin allegedly asked.

But Boutin isn’t just any old guy. His adult record dates back to 1960 and includes convictions and prison time for larceny, armed robbery, and breaking and entering, according to court records. Salem police Chief Paul Tucker on Thursday called Boutin a “career criminal.”

He has been on probation after serving part of a jail sentence in the South Boston burglary, and was charged with trespassing in July after police spotted him entering a construction site on the corner of Rantoul and Federal streets.

Yesterday, at his arraignment in Salem District Court, Boutin pleaded not guilty to charges of breaking and entering in the daytime, malicious destruction, two counts of possessing burglarious tools, and a charge of being a common and notorious thief.

Salem police Lt. Conrad Prosniewski, the police prosecutor, sought bail of $50,000 cash. Boutin and his lawyer for the day, Christopher Beares, agreed to the amount, which was then set by a judge.

Although Boutin is on probation in South Boston, his probation officer there did not ask that Boutin be detained for violating his probation, something that surprised Judge Matthew Nestor.

“With this record, (and) he has an open case, he’s on a split (sentence) out of South Boston, and South Boston wants him to just go in on his own?” an incredulous Nestor asked the probation officer on duty in the courtroom. He went on to ask the probation officer whom she spoke to there.

Boutin, who had already been scheduled to appear again in Salem District Court on Oct. 22 in the trespassing case, will be back in court that day on both new cases, to be appointed a lawyer from the state public defender’s office.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.