SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

May 24, 2014

Woman admits fencing stolen silver, other items

BEVERLY — An outraged judge told a Billerica woman yesterday that the only reason he wasn’t sending her to jail was so that she would be able to repay her elderly victim for the jewelry and heirlooms she had stolen from a Hamilton home.

“This is one of those cases where if the Commonwealth asked for 21/2 (years) followed by 21/2, followed by 21/2, I wouldn’t hesitate,” Judge Matthew Machera told Gina Masella, 30. “You not only took advantage of the victim in this case, you took advantage of someone who showed kindness to you.”

Masella pleaded guilty yesterday to charges of receiving stolen property after admitting that she fenced items stolen from the home of a Hamilton woman who had taken her, her child and her boyfriend, Michael DeFort, into her home when they had no other place to go back in 2011.

The victim was a friend of DeFort’s mother.

But soon, the woman noticed that items were missing from the home: heirloom silver, her own wedding silver, and most of her jewelry. Prosecutors estimated the total value of the loss at about $50,000.

Some of the items had been in her family since the 18th century, and some commemorated the family’s service in the Marines during wartime — something Machera took great offense to yesterday.

“We have Marines fighting and dying for the rights you have today to go to trial before a jury,” Machera said.

Masella spoke up, and before her attorney, Mark Barry, could stop her, she told the judge, “If I may, the other party was the one that removed the property from the house. I just pawned it.”

That’s been a bone of contention in the case for months, since her boyfriend was never charged. Barry said his client has been cooperating with investigators, but that only she and the owner of the Beverly pawn shop where she was paid $8,000 for the items were charged.

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