Mass. Senate to debate plan to reform welfare
BOSTON (AP) - The Massachusetts Senate is set to take up a welfare reform plan drawn up by Democratic leaders.
The bill scheduled for debate on Thursday would require that able-bodied people demonstrate they have tried to find work before they can become eligible for public benefits.
The proposal unveiled on Monday by Senate President Therese Murray also calls for steps to reduce welfare fraud, including a requirement that photo IDs be put on electronic benefit transfer cards used by welfare recipients.
About $22 million in new state spending would be required to implement the bill, but supporters say the costs could be offset if more people go off welfare and there's less abuse of the system.
Senate Republicans have praised the bill but plan to offer amendments aimed at strengthening it.
Uncle: Patriots player had link to homicide victim
BOSTON (AP) - New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez had a connection to a homicide victim found in an industrial park near the athlete's home, but family and officials aren't commenting on the nature of their relationship.
Authorities have identified the body found about a mile from Hernandez's sprawling home in North Attleborough as that of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd. His cause of death hasn't been released.
Lloyd's family said Wednesday that Lloyd was a semi-pro football player for the Boston Bandits and had a connection to Hernandez, whose home was searched by police.
Bristol District Attorney Samuel Sutter's office is asking for the public's help to find a silver mirror cover believed to have broken off a car connected to the case.
Hernandez's attorney has declined to comment on the investigation.
Victims' relatives to testify in Bulger trial
BOSTON (AP) - After hearing three days of testimony from a hit man who admitted killing 20 people, jurors in the trial of James "Whitey" Bulger will soon get to hear from the families of some of those victims.
Prosecutors plan to begin calling relatives Thursday. Judge Denise Casper ruled earlier that their testimony will be limited. They will not be allowed to describe the emotional impact of losing their loved ones.
John Martorano, a confessed killer, finished testifying Wednesday after describing 11 murders he said Bulger was somehow involved in, either by helping plan them, cleaning up afterward or being 1 of the shooters.
Martorano is 1 of 3 former Bulger loyalists who agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and testify against Bulger at his racketeering trial.
Bulger is accused of playing a role in 19 killings during the 1970s and '80s. He has pleaded not guilty.
Martorano served 12 years in prison after cutting a deal with prosecutors and agreeing to testify against Bulger.
WHITEY BULGER-HIT MAN
Bulger trial: The hit man of Country Club Lane
MILFORD, Mass. (AP) - Some neighbors of a former mob hit man were shocked to learn about his past during his testimony against James "Whitey" Bulger this week.
John Martorano has admitted to 20 killings and previously spent 12 years in prison in exchange for his cooperation with authorities.
He lives in a condo on a golf course in Milford, Mass. Neighbors say they didn't have a clue about his past until seeing him on television in connection the racketeering trial in Boston.
One vowed never to get into any arguments with Martorano in the future, adding: "Whatever he says, he's right."
But the town's police chief says the 72-year-old's only interaction with local authorities was a written warning after a minor fender bender last year.
Arrest made in Somerset hit & run
(Information in the following story is from: The (Fall River, Mass.) Herald News, http://www.heraldnews.com )
SOMERSET, Mass. (AP) - A Fall River man has been charged in the hit & run death of a Somerset man with cerebral palsy who was operating his electric wheelchair along the side of the road.
Thirty-5-year-old Richard Reis pleaded not guilty Wednesday to leaving the scene of a fatal accident. His bail was set at $10,000.
Prosecutors said Reis told police he was the driver of the car that struck 65-year-old James Moore on Friday night. Police said Reis' wife called them after getting a reverse 911 call about the accident to say 1 of the family cars matched the description but had been damaged in a different accident.
The Herald News reports defense attorney Nicholas Athanassiou said there may be issues with the identification of Reis as a suspect, and hinted he might seek to suppress Reis' statements to police.
Mass. man convicted of 2009 ax killing over loan
DEDHAM, Mass. (AP) - A 32-year-old Braintree man has been convicted of first-degree murder in the 2009 ax killing of a neighbor who refused to lend him money.
A jury returned the verdict against Lucas Walters in Norfolk Superior Court on Wednesday, which would have been the 35th birthday of his victim, Jeffrey Phillips.
Prosecutors said Phillips had refused the loan because Walters already owed him money, and Walters killed Phillips during an argument. Walters told police he was defending himself, and later wrapped the body in a tarp and dumped it in a wooded area of Suffield, Conn.
The Patriot Ledger of Quincy reports Walters' lawyer said his client didn't plan to kill Phillips but "exploded" during the argument. He said Walters struggled with drug addiction for years and was using drugs and alcohol that day.
SHOT IN BED
Stoughton man convicted of killing rival in bed
DEDHAM, Mass. (AP) - A Stoughton man who fatally shot a rival through a window as the victim lay in bed has been convicted of second-degree murder.
Michael Blanchard was convicted Tuesday in Norfolk Superior Court of killing 21-year-old Stephen Erving at about 3:30 a.m. on March 16, 2010.
On Wednesday, Blanchard received the mandatory sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole in 15 years.
Prosecutors say the 24 -year-old Blanchard fired several rounds from a 9 mm pistol through Erving's first-floor bedroom window.
Authorities say the men knew each other and had a long-running feud.
Blanchard's lawyer has said that Erving had previously threatened his client.
Markey, Gomez ramp up voter appeals in Senate race
BOSTON (AP) - Republican Gabriel Gomez and Democrat Edward Markey are gearing up for the final rush to election day by highlighting issues they hope will persuade voters to support them.
Gomez on Wednesday met with women voters in Boston while Markey shook hands with commuters and Red Sox fans in Kenmore Square near Fenway Park.
Gomez again faulted Markey for not doing enough during his 37 years in Congress to improve Social Security and overhaul immigration and tax policies.
Markey said Gomez isn't strong enough on gun control and protecting abortion rights.
Also Wednesday, national Republican groups again called into question Markey's residency in Massachusetts, saying he really lives in Maryland where he and his wife own a home.
Markey says he lives in Malden, where the couple owns Markey's childhood home.
The election is June 25.
Markey reports Malden address on tax returns
BOSTON (AP) - Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Edward Markey has released eight years of state and federal tax returns showing he reported his home address as 7 Townsend Street in Malden.
Markey had previously released the tax returns to reporters, but his home address had been redacted.
After Tuesday's Senate debate, Markey agreed to release the returns with the address included to counter charges from Republicans that he really lives in Maryland.
Markey has filed his tax returns separately from his wife Susan Blumenthal. The couple owns a home in Chevy Chase, Md.
They also own Markey's boyhood home in Malden.
Throughout his campaign against GOP Senate hopeful Gabriel Gomez, Republicans have said Markey really lives in Maryland and should be paying taxes there.
Markey has repeatedly said his true home is Malden.
The election is June 25.
Biden to attend rally in Dartmouth for Markey
BOSTON (AP) - Vice President Joe Biden is the latest high-profile Democrat planning to visit Massachusetts to stump for Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Edward Markey.
Biden is planning to attend a Markey rally Saturday at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth.
Tickets to the event are free and can be picked up ahead of time at locations in Taunton, New Bedford and Fall river. Doors open at 12:30 p.m.
Biden isn't the first national Democratic political figure to campaign for Markey, who is facing Republican candidate Gabriel Gomez in the state's June 25 special election.
President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton have already held rallies in Massachusetts on Markey's behalf. Markey turned Obama's appearance into a campaign ad.
Gomez says he's unfazed by the rallies and is relying on Massachusetts voters instead.
Wynn bankrolls casino push in Everett
BOSTON (AP) - Campaign finance reports show that while Las Vegas casino operator Steve Wynn is pumping significant cash into convincing Everett voters to support a proposed $1.2 billion casino, nothing has been spent in opposition to the plan.
A referendum is scheduled for Saturday on an agreement calling for Wynn to pay Everett more than $25 million a year if the casino is built at the site of a former chemical plant.
In a recent filing with the state office of Campaign and Political Finance, the pro-casino group Everett United reported that it had raised more than $85,000, nearly all of it coming from Wynn Resorts. The group had also received $114,000 in so-called "in-kind" contributions from the company.
In a separate report, a Wynn subsidiary reported more than $230,000 in expenditures or liabilities related to the ballot question.
UMass board to hike tuition if budget falls short
BOSTON (AP) - With one eye on Beacon Hill, University of Massachusetts trustees have voted to authorize up to a 4.9% increase in tuition and fees that would occur only if the Legislature does not approve the level of funding the university is seeking.
UMass officials said Wednesday they continue to hope for a tuition freeze in the next academic year if the Legislature approves $479 million in funding proposed by the governor and approved by the House.
The Senate approved a lower figure of $455 million.
House and Senate negotiators are working to resolve that and other differences in a $34 billion state budget for the fiscal year starting July 1.
The trustees' plan would allow for a tuition and fee increase if the final UMass appropriation falls below $479 million.
Blackhawks beat Bruins 6-5 in OT, even series 2-2
BOSTON (AP) - Brent Seabrook's goal 9:51 into overtime lifted the Chicago Blackhawks to a wild 6-5 victory over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night and tied the Stanley Cup finals through four games.
Seabrook fired a 45-foot shot past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask to end Game 4 and send the series back to Chicago tied 2-2. Seabrook also scored the overtime goal in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals to eliminate the Detroit Red Wings.
Game 5 of the best-of-7 series is Saturday night.
It was the third overtime game of the series. The Blackhawks won the opener 4-3 in three overtimes, and the Bruins won 2-1 in the first overtime period in Game 2.
Boston grabbed the series lead Monday night 2-0 behind Rask's third shutout of the postseason.
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