CHESCO’S FINEST

D.A. Tom Ho­gan rec­og­nizes top po­lice of­fi­cers, pros­e­cu­tor

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael P. Rel­la­han mrel­la­han@21st-cen­tu­ry­media. com @Ch­escoCourtNews on Twit­ter

WEST CH­ESTER >> The woman named as Ch­ester County Pros­e­cu­tor of the Year was praised as a “tire­less ad­vo­cate” and men­tor to her col­leagues dur­ing the District At­tor­ney’s an­nual awards cer­e­monies, but she quickly de­flected any ku­dos cast her way to pay trib­ute to those she has worked with over the past two decades.

First As­sis­tant District At­tor­ney Michael Noone said Deputy District At­tor­ney Michelle Frei — while in­tro­duc­ing her to a packed court­room of prose­cu­tors, po­lice, county and state of­fi­cials and mem­bers of the D.A.’s staff — had worked suc­cess­fully as the of­fice’s goto per­son on cases in­volv­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

“Michelle gives voice to those who suf­fer at the hands of ones that they love,” Noone said. “She is a strong ad­vo­cate for those peo­ple. And Michelle al­ways re­mem­bers the names of those vic­tims while she does her work tire­lessly.”

Noone noted three sig­nif­i­cant cases that Frei had pros­e­cuted in re­cent years, all in­volv­ing is­sues sur­round­ing deaths at the hands of cur­rent or for­mer do­mes­tic part­ners.

There was the stab­bing death of Kim­berly Hvizda, the mother of four who died at the hands of her es­tranged hus­band. There was the shot­gun slay­ing of Jam­ica Woods, the East Fal­low­field woman who had en­dured years of domes-

tic abuse from the fa­ther of her child, only to die when she had de­cided to break free of the re­la­tion­ship; and Ni­cholas Mruczek, the up­state New York man killed in North Coven­try by the jeal­ous ex-boyfriend of a woman he had just be­gun dat­ing.

Frei won con­vic­tions in each of those cases, with sen­tences rang­ing from a min­i­mum of 45 years to the max­i­mum of life in prison, mostly be­cause of the strength of the cases she and po­lice were able to put to­gether. She gave high hon­ors to the law en­force­ment pro­fes­sion­als and DA staff as­sis­tants who helped her win those con­vic­tions.

But Frei, who be­came emo­tional dur­ing a brief part of her speech, also spoke mov­ingly of the plight of the sec­ondary vic­tims of those crimes — the young boy who asked where he would sleep that night with his mother dead and his fa­ther in prison, and the teenage girl who won­dered whether she should at­tend the se­nior prom as her mother had hoped she would or stay home and grieve.

And most per­ti­nently, Frei spoke of a young boy she did not iden­tify by name, who had died “at the hands of the peo­ple who should have been car­ing for him.” She was likely re­fer­ring to the case of Scott “Scotty” McMil­lan, the 3-year-old Ch­ester County boy who was beaten and tor­tured to death by his mother and her live-in boyfriend, and for which she is part of the DA’s pros­e­cu­tion team.

The “strength and courage” of the vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence “to come for­ward and face their at­tack­ers in­spires me ev­ery day,” Frei said. “The re­al­ity is that there is evil out there, and that evil needs to be fought.”

Frei, a county pros­e­cu­tor for 16 years, re­ceived her un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree from Get­tys­burg Col­lege and her law de­gree from Vil­lanova Univer­sity School of Law. She was pro­moted to deputy D.A. in 2013, and cur­rently serves as a trial at­tor­ney as­signed to the court­room of Pres­i­dent Judge Jacqueline Cody.

In ad­di­tion to the Pros­e­cu­tor of the Year, District At­tor­ney

Tom Ho­gan handed out awards to the Ch­ester County de­tec­tive of the Year, the Law En­force­ment Of­fi­cer of the Year, and a spe­cial com­men­da­tion to state Rep. Becky Corbin, R-155th Dist., for her as­sis­tance with leg­is­la­tion that Ho­gan said would help his of­fice fight those ac­cused of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

The de­tec­tive hon­ors car­ried a bit of mys­tery this year. Ho­gan said the win­ner worked in the of­fice’s Drug Unit, and thus could not be iden­ti­fied by name or photo be­cause of the dan­ger­ous na­ture of his largely un­der­cover and plain­clothes work. In­stead, the award went to a per­son Ho­gan called “De­tec­tive X.”

That win­ner — whose name was likely known to those as­sem­bled in the room from Ho­gan’s ex­pla­na­tion of his achieve­ments — sent a let­ter ex­press­ing hu­mil­ity over his work and de­flect­ing the ac­co­lades Ho­gan heaped on him. Read by As­sis­tant District At­tor­ney Michelle Barone, a mem­ber of the DA’s Drug Unit, the let­ter de­tailed not only the ex­em­plary work done by all of those “De­tec­tive X” had worked with, but the scourge of the il­le­gal drug epi­demic that made him de­voted to the so-called “war on drugs.”

“It is im­por­tant to wake up ev­ery morn­ing to fight that war to pro­tect our cit­i­zens,” the de­tec­tive wrote. “I don’t de­serve credit, be­cause ev­ery suc­cess comes at the hand of a team.”

Ho­gan praised Corbin for her work to pass a bill that would make the act of stran­gu­la­tion

— some­times very dif­fi­cult to prove in cases of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence — a sep­a­rate crime. He said that Corbin had worked closely with Frei on craft­ing the leg­is­la­tion, which be­came law last year.

In thank­ing Ho­gan for the award, Corbin said that she was “just do­ing what is right in my own mind,” and not look­ing for praise. “My goal has al­ways been helping peo­ple in what­ever way

I can.”

The law en­force­ment award was given to mem­bers of the county’s three po­lice emer­gency re­sponse teams. They were sin­gled out one by one, as they stood with Ho­gan at the front of the cer­e­mo­nial Court­room One in the His­toric Ch­ester County Court­house.

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Ch­ester County po­lice of­fi­cers hold their hands to their hearts dur­ing the singing of the Na­tional An­them at Ch­ester County District At­tor­ney awards at the His­toric Ch­ester County Court­house.

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Ch­ester County pros­e­cu­tor Michelle Frei ac­cepts the Ch­ester County Pros­e­cu­tor of the Year award from District At­tor­ney Thomas Ho­gan Fri­day at the His­toric Ch­ester County Court­house. She thanked men­tors, the team­work of the staff, fel­low prose­cu­tors, po­lice of­fi­cers and her fam­ily for her suc­cess.

PETE BANNAN – DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

The Ch­ester County Re­gional Emer­gency Re­sponse Team and the West Ch­ester Re­gional Emer­gency Re­sponse Team re­ceived the Ch­ester County District At­tor­ney Of­fi­cer of the Year Award at the His­toric Ch­ester County Court­house.

PETE BANNAN – DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Ch­ester County Sher­iff’s Cpl. Wayne John­son sing “Amaz­ing Grace” as a me­mo­rial to fallen of­fi­cers to end the Ch­ester County District At­tor­ney Awards cer­e­mony at the His­toric Ch­ester County Court­house.

PETE BANNAN – DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Ch­ester County District At­tor­ney Thomas Ho­gan, right, presents the Of­fi­cer of the Year Award to the County Emer­gency Re­sponse Teams. Ac­cept­ing the award are: Down­ing­town Po­lice Chief Howard Hol­land; Ch­ester County Re­gional Emer­gency Re­sponse Team; and West Ch­ester Lt. James More­head of the West Ch­ester Re­gional Emer­gency Re­sponse Team.

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Down­ing­town para­medic Shiloh Kramer, a mem­ber of the Ch­ester County Re­gional Emer­gency Re­sponse Team, lis­tens as Ch­ester County District At­tor­ney Thomas Ho­gan awards the County SWAT teams with the Of­fi­cer of the Year Award Fri­day at the His­toric Ch­ester County Court­house.

PETE BANNAN – DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Ch­ester County pros­e­cu­tor Michelle Frei ac­cepts the Ch­ester County Pros­e­cu­tor of the Year award from District At­tor­ney Thomas Ho­gan at the His­toric Ch­ester County Court­house. She thanked men­tors, the team­work of the staff, fel­low prose­cu­tors, po­lice of­fi­cers and her fam­ily for her suc­cess.

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Ch­ester County District At­tor­ney, Thomas Ho­gan pre­sented State Rep. Becky Cor­bett with a com­men­da­tion for her sup­port of law en­force­ment and in cham­pi­oning leg­is­la­tion to fight do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and drug abuse at the His­toric Ch­ester County Court­house.

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Tredyf­frin po­lice Supt. An­thony Gi­aimo ac­cepted a com­men­da­tion for Tredyf­frin po­lice at the Ch­ester County District At­tor­ney awards at the His­toric Ch­ester County Court­house. Gi­aimo is re­tir­ing in June, af­ter 30 years as an of­fi­cer and five as su­per­in­ten­dent.

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Ch­ester County District At­tor­ney Thomas Ho­gan holds up the De­tec­tive of the Year award. The win­ner was un­able to ac­cept it in pub­lic be­cause he is an un­der­cover of­fi­cer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.