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