Who is advocating for the victims

DA candidate Richard Barry speaks out about current DA’s letter of support for a politically connected criminal who recently pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property

By Richard Barry

The latest story of questionable behavior coming from the current District Attorney’s office has me wondering who is advocating for victims.

Joseph Vaudo, owner of Joe's Lobster Mart in Sandwich pleaded guilty to charges of receiving oysters stolen from local fishermen. At least one of those transactions involved oysters stolen from a contaminated bed in Yarmouth which prompted the State Department of Health to file an intent to revoke Vaudo’s license to sell seafood.

According to a July 6 Cape Cod Times article, DA Michael O’Keefe, whose office prosecuted Vaudo, wrote a letter supporting Vaudo’s appeal to the state seeking to keep his license. The Times article makes note of Vaudo’s financial contributions to O’Keefe’s political allies’ campaigns. O’Keefe’s relationships with these politicians, the mutual fundraising and campaigning efforts, are no secret.

I was an environmental prosecutor for the Cape and Islands and held and worked a shellfish grant in Barnstable Harbor for three years. I understand the demanding work that shell fishermen do every day to pay their bills and make a living on the Cape and Islands.

The victims in this case are the shell fisherman who were robbed and suffered loss of profit while Vaudo admitted to buying and selling those oysters. While the DA advocates for the criminal who pleaded guilty in this case, who is advocating for compensating the victims?”

Joseph Vaudo was prosecuted for receiving stolen shellfish that he planned to sell and lying to police officers investigating the case. While he faced a maximum penalty of ten years in prison he was given what many feel was a slap on the wrist, a fine and no request for restitution for the victims of the theft.

“He should have been indicted like Michael Bryant the alleged thief in this case. Instead, Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe took the time to write a letter of support, at the request of Vaudo's lawyer, to the Department of Public Health in an effort to help Vaudo keep his license to continue to sell fish and shellfish.”

I have been hearing from people across Cape Cod who are tired of the political cronyism and questionable ethics reported throughout the current DA’s career, behavior that has been reported locally and nationally. Not long ago embarrassing stories about the DA’s inappropriate behavior were part of national headlines and books about the Christa Worthington case, causing many to ask about where the victim fit into his priorities. The DA’s behavior led to his removal from the investigation of the case.

Now that the DA’s letter supporting a man who played a role in causing local shell fisherman to lose hard-earned money has become public, I am again hearing from people who wonder about the DA’s priorities.

What about the victims. Do they think justice was achieved? It's time for a District Attorney who cares about the victims, not the politically connected.

Editor's note: Richard Barry (D-Cotuit) is a candidate for the Cape & Islands District Attorney's Office. Barry is DA Michael O'Keefe's first opponent in eight years.

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