, Salem, MA

October 11, 2012

Angry mom clashes with judge over outcome

Salem: Case continued without a finding for two men who moved body

The Salem News

---- — The outraged mother of an overdose victim whose body was moved out of a controversial Salem “sober house” last fall lashed out at a Salem District Court judge and the press yesterday during an emotional victim-impact statement.

Michelle Frasca was angry that local real estate developer Raymond Young, 58, and an associate of his, Richard Hollett, 47, would walk out of court with a chance to keep their records mostly intact, by being granted a continuation without a finding in the case.

“As his mother, I’ve gone through 11 months in and out of court trying to get some closure,” said a visibly angry Michelle Frasca, whose son, Bradley Michael Frasca, 29, was found dead in the foyer of Young’s 87 Federal St. home.

Young and Hollett admitted yesterday to moving Frasca’s lifeless body on the morning of Nov. 9, 2011, out of the room of a third defendant, Jose Encarnacion, 27, who was living at the 179 Boston St. rooming house that was known as “Hilltop Recovery.”

Frasca said she could understand Encarnacion’s panic when he awoke to find his overnight guest — her son, who under the rules of the house wasn’t supposed to be there — dead of a drug overdose.

“But these other two, these are grown men who knew better,” she said.

“It makes me absolutely sick,” she continued, telling Judge Robert Brennan that she would not stay in the courtroom if he intended to grant the continuation, which means that the charges against both men will be dismissed in two years if they stay out of trouble and complete 100 hours of community service.

During what was originally scheduled yesterday as a motion to suppress evidence in the case, Young, Hollett and Encarnacion, who is serving an unrelated sentence at Middleton Jail, all admitted to the charge of disinterring a body.

The charges against Young and Hollett, of 81/2 Herbert St., were continued without a finding for two years, while Encarnacion was found guilty. All three will spend two years on supervised probation, with the community service requirement.

Prosecutor Jane Prince, who described how Hollett and Young initially lied to police about how the victim ended up in Young’s foyer, had hoped for guilty findings for all three.

Young claimed he’d found “Mike” Frasca and performed CPR for an hour before calling 911, a claim backed at first by Hollett.

But eventually, after Salem police Detective Dennis Gaudet and state police Detective Robert LaBarge spoke to all three men, their story fell apart.

Prince said Encarnacion realized Frasca was dead shortly after waking up that morning. Instead of calling 911, a move that almost certainly would lead to his eviction from the program, he called Hollett. The two younger men had worked for Young and Hollett on building projects.

“This has to do with respect for a young man dying in a tragic way,” said Prince, who went on to say that the “incredibly selfish way these individuals chose to deal with this hurt this family in an incredibly painful way.”

But lawyers for the three insisted that they “meant no harm” by moving the victim.

Young’s lawyer, Neil Hourihan, said his client was simply trying to help Encarnacion remain in the sober house, where he had been sent by the Lynn Drug Court.

“There was nothing to be gained by my client,” said Hourihan, who went on to say that Young could have left the victim’s body anywhere, causing even more trauma to the family.

Kevin Pendergast, a lawyer for Hollett, echoed those remarks, saying that his client had the best intentions, though he now realizes his actions were “stupid” and “awfully ill-conceived.”

Meghan Taylor, Encarnacion’s lawyer, actually argued against probation for her client, saying that he would prefer to do a jail sentence, albeit concurrently with the one he’s now serving, then move out of Lynn to make a fresh start.

She said Encarnacion had no idea Young and Hollett would leave the body splayed in Young’s foyer when they showed up with a pickup truck that morning.

The case has received widespread publicity because of the death of a second man, a 40-year-old who had been sent to live in the same house, nearly a month later.

As city officials looked into the program, its owners, Paul Dacey and E. James Gaines, a former state housing official and Newburyport city planner in the 1980s, denied that they were running a sober house, instead insisting it was simply a rooming house with rules against drinking and using drugs.

But after The Salem News obtained copies of correspondence on a letterhead that described the facility as a sober house and treatment program, the city moved to revoke the facility’s license, although it suspended the order. Officials of the Lynn Drug Court also stopped sending defendants there, as well, telling the newspaper that they were misled.

Michelle Frasca, however, expressed anger at The Salem News, telling the judge, “I have three daughters who read the papers,” and complaining that they learned the details of his death from the newspaper.

(The Salem News has not previously identified Frasca’s son by name, but other news organizations have published it while the case has been pending).

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