A Chicopee man, Joseph Lupien, 38, was arrested on January 3, 2018, for negligent operation of a motor vehicle, possession, and possession with intent to distribute a Class II drug, phencyclidine or PCP, and assault and battery on the female passenger in his vehicle.
Attempted insurance fraud leads to death of accomplice
On July 21, 2017, the Holyoke Police Department investigated what at first appeared to be a possible suicide by auto. A 23-year-old Holyoke man, Jonathan Aguilar, had apparently intentionally crashed a vehicle insured by Amica Mutual for no apparent reason into a loading dock behind a Kmart located in Holyoke at high speed.
The crash occurred around 11:00 p.m. on Friday, July 21, 2017. Mysteriously, when the police arrived at the accident scene, the seriously injured Mr. Aguilar had been removed from the vehicle and dropped of at a local hospital by two “friends.”
After Mr. Aguilar died two days later, the police arrested Mr. Lupien and one Beatrice Marrero, 32, on charge of obstruction of justice apparently related to the removal of the deceased from the scene of the crash.
After further investigation, the district attorney for Hampden County presented a case to the grand jury based upon the discovery that the deceased driver had been encouraged by Mr. Lupien and Ms. Marrero to drive the vehicle into the loading dock so they could collect insurance money from Amica Mutual.
The grand jury indicted Mr. Lupien and Ms. Marrero for involuntary manslaughter alleging that on July 21, 2017, they had engaged in “wanton and reckless conduct” and had by such conduct caused the death of one Jonathan Aguilar. The grand jury also indicted Mr. Lupien and Ms. Marrero for willful interference with a criminal investigation based on misleading statements they gave the Holyoke Police Department. Finally, the grand jury charged them with insurance fraud by attempting to steal money from the Amica Mutual Insurance Company through their actions “to crash a car for the insurance coverage.”
Mr. Lupien and Ms. Marrero pleaded not guilty to the charges in the Springfield Superior Court and were released on personal bail.
Part of the reason Mr. Lupien was released on bail for the manslaughter, obstruction of justice and attempt larceny charges was the fact that he had no prior criminal record, was gainfully employed with many family ties in the Holyoke-Springfield area.
New charges arising out of single-car crashes
On January 3, 2018, Mr. Lupien was again arrested in West Springfield after he drove his mother’s vehicle the wrong way around a rotary, crashed into a snow bank, then drove into a Cumberland Farm store parking lot and crashed again.
Mr. Lupien and his female passenger entered the store where Mr. Lupien allegedly assaulted his female companion. When police responded to the scene, Mr. Lupien appeared incoherent and unable to state what had happened in the one-car accidents. A search by the police uncovered some small bags of suspicious chemicals in Mr. Lupien’s possession after he had demonstrated other signs of possibly being under the influence of drugs. The police arrested Mr. Lupien after a police drug recognition expert called to the scene examined the substances and determined them to be PCP and marijuana mixed with PCP.
Mr. Lupien remanded to custody on attempted insurance-fraud manslaughter charge
On arraignment for negligent operation of a motor vehicle, assault and battery on his passenger, possession and possession of Class II drugs with intent to distribute, Mr. Lupien pleaded not guilty.
Once again Mr. Lupien’s attorney prevailed upon the court for his release without posting a cash bail on the new charges based upon again his lack of a prior record for conviction for a crime, his employment history, his local roots and his presenting no risk of flight.
The judge, after hearing arguments from an assistant district attorney for a $5,000 cash bail and for revoking Mr. Lupien’s bail on the manslaughter charge, decided to release Mr. Lupien on his personal recognizance for the new charges. However, the judge revoked his personal recognizance on the manslaughter charge and Mr. Lupien is now awaiting trial on that charge in the county jail.
No firm date has been set for a trial on the manslaughter, obstruction of justice, and attempted insurance fraud indicments.
Maximum of twenty-year sentence for manslaughter
In Massachusetts both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter carry a maximum of 20 years in the state’s prison. The distinction in sentencing after conviction between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter appears in the sentencing guidelines used the Superior Court. Involuntary manslaughter has a substantially lesser recommended sentence guideline with a maximum of ten years in state prison for the worst offenders. However, a judge would be free to impose a substantially lesser or longer sentence under the facts and circumstances of a particular case of involuntary manslaughter.