Brother of killer gave robbery tips, prosecutor alleges
CONCORD, N.H. — Shortly before parolee Domenic Cinelli killed a Woburn police officer during a robbery, he received tips on how to carry out the heist from his brother, Arthur, a fellow career criminal who had been released on parole years earlier, a prosecutor said yesterday.
Arthur Cinelli, who had been portrayed as a success story during his brother’s parole hearing, sent a text message to Domenic Cinelli before the Dec. 26 robbery of Kohl’s department store in Woburn, advising him that once he got inside the store “it should be locked down . . . and then the kid should be brought in,’’ Assistant US Attorney Terry L. Ollila said during a hearing in US District Court. “The kid’’ was a reference to a 19-year-old man who allegedly served as Domenic Cinelli’s accomplice during the heist, Olilla said.
Text messages shared between the brothers in the days and hours before Domenic Cinelli killed Officer John Maguire and died in a shootout with police show that Arthur Cinelli “knew his brother was going to engage in a robbery, provided advice for the robbery, and encouraged his brother in the commission of the robbery,’’ Ollila said.
But Arthur Cinelli’s lawyer said her client was trying to stop his brother from committing crimes.
Arthur Cinelli, 49, was paroled in 2001 and remained free until last Friday, when he was arrested on federal cocaine charges filed in New Hampshire. He has not been charged in the Woburn robbery or slaying.
But during yesterday’s hearing on whether he should be released on bail in the drug case, Ollila said Massachusetts State Police are investigating Arthur Cinelli based on the texts he exchanged with his brother. Police discovered the messages on Domenic Cinelli’s cellphone after he was killed, she said.
Arthur Cinelli, who had been living in Manchester, N.H., and had undergone hip surgery Dec. 23, hobbled into court with the help of a walker. He wiped tears from his face as he whispered to his longtime companion seated in the back of the courtroom, “I didn’t do anything.’’
“I know you didn’t,’’ MaryAnn Maniscalco whispered back.
The prosecutor described Arthur Cinelli as a dangerous career offender, who recently tested positive for marijuana and allegedly admitted using cocaine in 2008. He shot a Medford police officer during a 1981 bank robbery and was serving a 20-to-25-year sentence when he was paroled 10 years ago.
She said the Middlesex prosecutor handling the investigation into Maguire’s slaying told her that evidence shows Arthur Cinelli was texting his brother hours before the officer’s death.
“Arthur Cinelli was doing all of this while he was in a wheelchair recovering from hip replacement surgery,’’ said Ollila, adding that he would be a danger to the community if released on bail.
A magistrate judge agreed and ordered him to remain jailed until that case is resolved.
But Arthur Cinelli’s lawyer, Jessica C. Brown, argued that he was trying to discourage his brother from committing crimes and gave his cellphone last week to a Boston lawyer, who turned it over to the Middlesex county district attorney’s office, in an effort to prove he did nothing wrong.
“Domenic Cinelli was stressed for money,’’ said Brown, adding that Arthur Cinelli was released from a Boston hospital on Christmas Day and told his brother on Dec. 26 that banks would be open the next day and “he’d get money and help Domenic pay his rent.’’
After his brother was killed, Arthur Cinelli called Boston lawyer William Cintolo because he feared law enforcement authorities would learn he had been communicating with his brother prior to the robbery and begin focusing on him, Brown said.
Yesterday, Cintolo said that Arthur Cinelli “indicated there was evidence on the phone that would show he had no involvement’’ in the robbery. He said he told Arthur Cinelli to shut off the phone and give it to him, then he gave it to prosecutors on Tuesday. Cintolo said he did not turn on the phone or review the texts.
An affidavit filed in US District Court alleges that Arthur Cinelli sold cocaine, from 4.9 grams to 9.8 grams, to an informant who was cooperating with an FBI task force in New Hampshire seven times between December 2007 and 2008. He was charged last Friday with drug distribution.
Arthur Cinelli was arrested in February 2008 on state drug charges and notified that he was being targeted by federal authorities, Ollila said.
For reasons that were not made public, the state case was dropped.
The Massachusetts Parole Board was apparently unaware of Arthur Cinelli’s brush with the law. He touted himself as a success when he testified at his brother’s 2005 parole hearing, telling the board: “I don’t know what you seen in me. I’m just grateful that you did see something in me . . . I want you to do it for my brother also. You didn’t lose out on me. You got a winner.’’
The board rejected Domenic Cinelli’s parole in 2005, but granted it three years later. Arthur Cinelli did not testify at the November 2008 hearing, but board member Thomas Merigan asked Domenic Cinelli if his brother was experiencing any problems.
“He’s doing great,’’ Domenic Cinelli said.
Merigan said he was impressed at Arthur Cinelli’s apparent ability to stay out of trouble and told his brother: “The reality is you know you can do it if you want. He’s an example of that; it’s up to you.’’
Ollila said prosecutors brought the federal drug charges against Arthur Cinelli after being notified by Massachusetts authorities that he was under investigation based on the texts exchanged with his brother.
She said he could face up to 22 years in prison on the drug charges if convicted.
US Magistrate Judge Landya B. McCafferty ordered him held without bail, citing the weight of the evidence in the drug case, his criminal history, and “the awareness now that the government in Massachusetts is investigating your role in a heinous activity that resulted in the death of a police officer.’’
Shelley Murphy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.