SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

October 4, 2012

Judge won't dismiss case against court clerk

PEABODY — Lawyers for Alison Desmond, an assistant clerk-magistrate at the Ipswich District Court, were unable yesterday to convince a judge to dismiss charges that she lied to police investigating two assaults, including one on a mentally disabled grocery store worker.

Salem attorney Marc Salinas had argued that there was not sufficient probable cause to charge Desmond with misleading investigators, suggesting that her initial statement to police was misconstrued, and that whatever she did or didn’t say didn’t matter anyway, because police already had suspects in mind.

Judge Stacey Fortes-White denied the motion at the end of a hearing in Peabody District Court yesterday morning.

“The number of different stories provided to law enforcement in each interview ... is, frankly, dizzying,” said Fortes-White, a judge specially assigned to the case because she has never worked with either Desmond or the other defendant in the case.

Desmond, 54, of Newburyport, was one of two Trial Court employees charged after the incidents, which took place in September of 2011. The other, a longtime court officer, David Vitale, 52, of Methuen, is also charged with lying to police.

The two, along with two younger men, Robert Barron and Ryan Nimblett, had been at the Newburyport Elks Club on the evening of Sept. 16. Desmond, a member, had signed them in, according to a police report.

Later, after spending some time in Desmond’s Storey Avenue condo, Vitale and the other men left in a cab. The cab didn’t go very far before there was an altercation with the driver.

Barron and Nimblett allegedly scuffled with the cabbie, then took off on foot as police arrived.

As they ran, they encountered a mentally disabled man walking and listening to music on what the pair apparently believed was a cell phone, which they demanded, police allege. When the man told them he had no cell phone, they beat him, threw him through a car window and then, claiming they had a gun pointed at him, ordered him to start walking away, according to police.

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