THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
< Back to front page Text size +

Needham woman faces federal investment fraud charges

March 3, 2014 12:06 PM

A Needham woman was indicted in federal court last week for allegedly bilking her investment clients out of hundreds of thousands of dollars over nearly two decades, according to US Attorney Carmen Ortiz's office.

While working as an investment adviser at Merrill Lynch and Smith Barney between 1995 and 2013, Jane E. O'Brien, 61, allegedly took clients' investment funds and used the money for her own personal use, according to the US Attorney's office.

O'Brien allegedly convinced several clients to empty their investment accounts and give the money for her to personally invest, which she never did, the US Attorney's office said. She allegedly told one client to borrow $1 million against her home and give the money to O'Brien to invest, and told another client that she would invest for them in a Hollywood movie called "Crooked Arrows," prosecutors said.

O'Brien faces eight counts of charges, including mail fraud, wire fraud, and investment adviser fraud. She is currently serving a nearly three-year sentence after she pleaded guilty in December 2012 to swindling $240,000 from a former client. She was sentenced in May.

If convicted of the latest charges, O'Brien faces up to 20 years in prison on each count of mail and wire fraud, and 5 years for investment advisor fraud, as well as hefty fines.

--
Follow us on Twitter: @yourtownneedham, @jaclynreiss

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

Needham 40B apartment developer appealing town's decision to slash project size

February 27, 2014 05:00 PM

The 300-unit residential complex was proposed for 692 and 744 Greendale Ave. in Needham.

A developer who wants to build a 300-unit apartment complex on Greendale Avenue in Needham is fighting the town's decision that the project must be capped at 108 units.

Mill Creek Residential Trust LLC, who proposed the project under the state’s Chapter 40B affordable housing law, was given permission from the quasi-public Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency last January to take their five-building, 262,000-square foot proposal to Needham’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

But after months of hearings, Needham's Zoning Board of Appeals decided on Dec. 19 that the complex must be drastically reduced in order to go forward. They also decided that the project would also have to follow town setback, elevation and open space requirements, and that the developer would have to pay for a traffic signal there.

But developers from Mill Creek Residential filed an appeal on Feb. 12 with the state's Housing Appeals Committee, the governing body that deals with Chapter 40B affordable housing conflicts.

Robb Hewitt, managing director at Mill Creek Residential, said that developers were "disappointed" in the zoning board decision, adding that the board "effectively denied our proposal."

"We had no choice but to appeal the decision since the conditions of the decision render the development uneconomic," Hewitt said. "Unfortunately, the appeal will be costly for both us and the town, causing the town to spend significant resources that most certainly could be better and more constructively spent."

The town has zoned the six-acre site so that no more than four residential units can be built on one acre, although town officials said guidelines would allow up to 10 units per acre for affordable developments. But the developers were able to bypass local zoning laws to propose building 50 units per acre under Chapter 40B, a state law that encourages affordable housing construction.

Currently, about 7 percent of Needham’s housing is affordable under state guidelines. Selectman Dan Matthews previously told the Globe that the project as originally proposed, offering 75 affordable rental units and 225 market rate units, would push Needham over the state's required 10-percent threshold, giving local officials greater control over proposed developments.

"Of course, it is also disappointing that the denial of our project misses an opportunity for Needham to achieve the 10 percent affordable housing goal," Hewitt said.

However, the project gained staunch opposition from town residents and officials, who cited its high density, proximity to the highway, and negative pollution and traffic effects.

In the end, the town's concerns won out in the zoning board's decision.

"The applicant has been stubbornly demanding an extremely dense development that will destroy green space, crowd occupants, create unnecessary traffic congestion and not fit with its neighborhood," the written decision says.

"If the applicant cannot build an economical project at a density approximating 108 units while addressing the board's other local concerns, then the site is simply not the right location for the project and the application should be denied," the decision says.

Jason Talerman, an attorney who will represent Needham in the appeal, said the first meeting in front of the state appeal commission will take place Friday.

"The town feels very strongly that its decision is completely defensible," Talerman said. "The zoning board worked for more than six months to collect data, numbers, and expert reports and arrives at decision that is both fair and equitable and will, in fact, will result in a good project if the developer wishes to build it."

Although developers said a smaller complex would not make them money, Talerman disagreed.

"The data presented is quite the contrary, and indicates that it will be profitable in the density and design approved by the board," he said.

Talerman, who has represented dozens of towns in 40B cases, said appeal cases can take anywhere between six months and four years to resolve.

"This is a pretty big project and there's a lot of issues, so I expect a lot will be on the table," he said. "I doubt it would be on the shorter side."

As previously proposed, the development's project plans called for one- and two-bedroom apartments with gourmet kitchens and in-unit laundry machines. The complex would have also featured an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, a WiFi lounge, an underground parking garage, and a pet-friendly policy, according to developers.

Needham ZBA Presentation single rendering.jpg

Handout, Mill Creek Residential

A rendering of the proposed 300-unit development on Greendale Avenue.

--
Follow us on Twitter: @yourtownneedham, @jaclynreiss

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

Needham to host guided nature walks at Ridge Hill this spring

February 25, 2014 12:05 PM

Ridge Hill Reservation in Needham.

The Needham Conservation Commission will host monthly guided walks around Ridge Hill Reservation so residents can get to know the reservation and explore the trail system.

Walks are scheduled starting March 1, as well as April 5, May 3, and June 7, according to the commission. Each walk starts at 10 a.m. and will last between one and two hours.

Anyone interested can meet at the large parking lot at 10 a.m. each of the scheduled Saturdays.

Commission members encourage walkers to dress warm in the spring months, recommending a wind-blocking outer layer and comfortable walking shoes with good grip and moisture-wicking socks.

Walks will be held if there is light snow, but will not be cancelled if there are blizzard conditions or rain.

For more information, visit www.needhamma.gov/conservation.
--

Follow us on Twitter: @yourtownneedham, @jaclynreiss

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

Solarize Needham to hold informational event on solar power March 5

February 24, 2014 01:17 PM

Solarize Needham will host an event on March 5 to introduce residents interested in solar power to installation representatives, and to answer any questions locals may have about solar power, according to the group.

The event, which will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Needham Town Hall, will feature representatives from Astrum Solar, the firm that Solarize Needham has chosen to be the organization's solar installer after a thorough vetting process, according to the group.

Needham was invited along with over a dozen other communities in December to take part in the Solarize Massachusetts grant program, which is co-sponsored by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. The initiative offers residents the opportunity to have solar electric panels installed at substantially discounted prices.

The Solarize Needham program pricing is available for homeowners and businesses through June 30.

Locals who install solar panels use the sun to power their home or business, which helps generate efficient energy year-round and helps lower utility bills, according to the Needham group.

For more information, visit solarizeneedham.org.

--
Follow us on Twitter: @yourtownneedham, @jaclynreiss

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

Needham Community Farm online auction to begin March 7

February 18, 2014 10:00 AM

Needham Community Farm will hold its third annual online auction from March 7 through March 20 to raise funds for the organization, according to an announcement from farm leaders.

Items up for bid this year include gift cards to popular local eateries and shops, such as Whole Foods and Walnut Grille.

Proceeds from the auction allow the farm give back to the community, such as growing produce for the Needham Community Council Food Pantry, teaching Needham students about farming and agriculture, and offering programs for free to low-income residents.

For more information, visit the farm's official website or browse items up for bid.

--
Follow us on Twitter: @yourtownneedham, @jaclynreiss

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

Needham Historical Society to dedicate room to Daniel 'Bud' Roche, co-founder of Roche Bros.

February 11, 2014 12:45 PM

roche reception invitation 2.jpg

Needham Historical Society

The Needham Historical Society is hosting a free reception this month to celebrate the dedication of a room in honor of Daniel "Bud" Roche, co-founder of Roche Bros. supermarkets and a longtime Needham resident, officials said.

Buddy beach.jpg
Globe file
Daniel "Bud" Roche, co-founder of Roche Bros.
The society is renaming one of their building's room after Roche's death in September. Gloria Greis, the society's executive director, said the grocery store founder played a key role in the Needham Historical Society relocating to a more spacious and accessible facility near Newman Elementary School.

The society wanted to move two local historical houses onto the property, but doing so required an aggressive fundraising campaign and collaborating with town officials, Greis said.

"We had never raised that kind of money before -- we're a small organization," Greis said. "But Bud stepped up and made a sizable personal donation that signaled to people that this project was a go. Without his support, it wouldn’t have happened."

The historical society moved into their new building in 2006, Greis said.

"After Bud's death we thought, instead of sending a donation, we could do something a bit more meaningful, so we're naming one of the rooms in his honor," she said.

The reception will take place Sunday, Feb. 23 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Needham Historical Society, located at 1147 Central Ave. Refreshments will be served. The reception is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit the society's official website.

--
Follow us on Twitter: @yourtownneedham, @jaclynreiss

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce partners with Google for 'street view' inside local businesses

February 10, 2014 02:25 PM

The Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce has partnered with Google to feature photos of local businesses in a new initiative where GoogleMaps users can take a virtual walk through participating brick-and-mortar shops.

The "Google Street View Indoors" will allow users to see inside the business, travel 360 degrees from multiple points inside the shop, and also zoom in on products, displays, signs, decor, and ambiance, according to a statement from the chamber released Monday.

The Newton-Needham chamber is the first in Massachusetts to partner with Google for the program, said chamber president Greg Reibman in the statement.

“We see Street View Indoors as yet another way to promote shopping locally, dining locally and banking locally,” Reibman said. “We’re pleased to be the first chamber in the state that is partnering with Google on this opportunity to let consumers look inside our many fantastic businesses.”

Google allows businesses to feature up to 1,000 360-degree views to the program for a fee: it costs a business $100 for each of the first three viewpoints, and $50 for the next 12 after that. Any images added after the first 15 cost $30 each.

Chamber members are eligible for 10 percent discount; non-chamber members, who join the organization at the same time they sign up for the Google feature, are eligible for a 15 percent discount.

The images will be taken by a Google photographer, according to the chamber.

For a sample of how the new Google imaging feature works, click here.

Needham’s Panepinto decommits from UMass lax, eyes postgraduate football

January 26, 2014 03:42 PM

Needham senior Mike Panepinto has decommitted from playing lacrosse at the University of Massachusetts, instead opting to pursue a postgraduate year of football at a prep school. The midfielder verbally committed to UMass in Feb. 2012.

Panepinto, a running back, led all Division 2 scorers with 27 touchdowns this past season. The Rockets went 7-4 (5-0 Bay State Carey) and had their season ended with a 42-35 Division 2 South semifinal loss to Mansfield, the eventual D2 Super Bowl champion.

“Football is just something I’m more passionate about,” Panepinto said. “The games and stuff, you can’t really compare it to anything else. I love lacrosse, nothing bad to say about it, but you just can’t replace football.”

Phillips Andover, Phillips Exeter and Deerfield Academy have garnered interest from the senior.

Panepinto’s uncle, also Mike, was a football standout at Canisius (3,416 rushing yards) and was signed by the Buffalo Bills.

“He didn’t really have an influence on (the decision) either way,” Panepinto said. “He just said I should do what I want.”

Peter Cappiello can be reached at peter.cappiello@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @petecapps

Originally published on the blog The High School Sports Blog.

Needham's Panepinto decommits from UMass lax, eyes postgraduate football

January 26, 2014 03:42 PM

Needham senior Mike Panepinto has decommitted from playing lacrosse at the University of Massachusetts, instead opting to pursue a postgraduate year of football at a prep school. The midfielder verbally committed to UMass in Feb. 2012.

Panepinto, a running back, led all Division 2 scorers with 27 touchdowns this past season. The Rockets went 7-4 (5-0 Bay State Carey) and had their season ended with a 42-35 Division 2 South semifinal loss to Mansfield, the eventual D2 Super Bowl champion.

“Football is just something I’m more passionate about,” Panepinto said. “The games and stuff, you can’t really compare it to anything else. I love lacrosse, nothing bad to say about it, but you just can’t replace football.”

Phillips Andover, Phillips Exeter and Deerfield Academy have garnered interest from the senior.

Panepinto’s uncle, also Mike, was a football standout at Canisius (3,416 rushing yards) and was signed by the Buffalo Bills.

“He didn’t really have an influence on (the decision) either way,” Panepinto said. “He just said I should do what I want.”

Peter Cappiello can be reached at peter.cappiello@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @petecapps

Originally published on the blog The High School Sports Blog.

Needham mom to compete on Survivor: Cagayen in February

January 24, 2014 12:06 PM

CBS.com

Needham mom and pilates trainer Trish Hegarty was chosen to compete on the 28th season of Survivor, which will take place in the Philippines.

A Needham mom and pilates instructor will be fighting for the top prize on Survivor: Cagayan, according to CBS.

trishhegartybody.jpg
CBS
Trish Hegarty, 48, of Needham
Trish Hegarty, 48, a trainer at DishStudios in Needham, made the cut for the challenging show this year, according to CBS.

Hagerty is a single mom of two daughters. She graduated from Westfield State University in 1988 with a bachelor's in Elementary Education. While at the university, she played on the soccer team and served as team captain, according to college officials.

Hegarty auditioned for Survivor four times before she was chosen as a contestant to compete.

"From the birth of Survivor, everyone has told me I would be the best survivor 'Survivor' ever had," Hegarty said in her cast bio. "I am a great team player, a very hard worker, a very positive thinker and an incredible people person."

The 28th edition of Survivor, filmed in a province in the Philippines, will be themed “Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty.” Hegarty will be assigned to the "Brawn" tribe, which she touted as the most likely to outlast the other two groups.

"I think common sense in the game of Survivor is essential and often times really smart people lack that," Hegarty said. "Beauty is just beauty. How do you build shelter, fires and boil your own water on your looks? I think a Brawn will win."

Survivor premieres Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 8 p.m. on CBS.

For more, visit the show's official website.

--
Follow us on Twitter: @yourtownneedham, @jaclynreiss

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

About Your Town