Someone visiting Milford, Mass., for the first time might mistakenly deem it an ideal place to live, work, and raise a family. It has a population of around 27,000, a reputable school system, beautiful parks with hikeable trails, a first-class regional hospital, and a buzzing downtown area for shopping and entertainment, according to the town’s official website. Outsiders would likely never guess, however, that the town is stained by a deadly history of illegal immigrant crime.
According to national deportation data published last month, the deportation rate for the state of Massachusetts is at an all-time low. Due to this lax approach to immigration, countless families have been ripped apart by crimes committed by illegal aliens.
Milford public officials and members of the local media have done an excellent job concealing this inconvenient truth from the national eye during one of the most contentious presidential races in recent history. Names like Joshua Fromer, Richard Gossi, Matthew Denice, and Andrea Agosto ring hollow to an American public otherwise steeped in the harrowing biographies of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, and others.
But not everyone is willing to remain quiet. Conservative Review recently spoke with two Milford residents who have refused to sweep this fatal phenomenon of illegal immigrant crime under the rug, and learned what they are doing to expose the unsavory side of their quaint town.
"Illegal immigration is not a victimless crime," Maureen Maloney, mother of the late Matthew Denice, told Conservative Review via email. "Our family is permanently separated by his death."
Matthew Denice was struck while riding his motorcycle on Aug. 20, 2011, by an illegal immigrant driving a truck. Maloney told CR that her son “survived the initial crash with abrasions and contusions.” But when the perpetrator, an Ecuadorean with a criminal record named Nicolas Dutan Guaman, fled the scene, he ran over Denice, who became lodged in the truck’s wheel well and was dragged a quarter of a mile to his death.
In May of 2014, Guaman was sentenced to 12 to 14 years imprisonment for the death of Matthew Denice — a rare outcome for situations like these, according to Maloney.
"[Massachusetts] politicians spend a great deal of time pandering to illegal aliens, protecting illegal aliens and garnering public sympathy for them,” she said. “You only need to spend a few days in a court room and you will learn how lenient the judges are to illegal aliens."
Guaman had been arrested before by Milford police in 2008 on charges of breaking and entry and assaulting a police officer, a firefighter, and a paramedic, Milford Police Chief Thomas O’Loughlin told the Boston Globe in 2011.
Last month marked the five-year anniversary of Matthew’s death. But since then, Maloney said, “minimal progress has been made” in the effort to prevent similar crimes from happening again.
"When you hear about illegal alien families being separated, it’s by their own choice,” she said. “They can change their minds at any time and return to their families. Matthew and countless numbers of Americans are permanently separated from their loved ones."
Maloney has worked closely with The Remembrance Project, the activist organization that coined the term “Angel Moms” to describe the mothers of victims of illegal immigrant crimes.
"I will continue advocating for enforcement of our current immigration laws,” Maloney said. “I will continue to hold our lawmakers accountable. I will continue to inform the public of how their lawmakers actually vote on bills related to illegal aliens."
Milford resident Maureen Laquerre, who has worked with Maloney and The Remembrance Project to fight what they believe to be a corrupt criminal justice system in their hometown, spoke with CR about her personal ties to the movement.
Laquerre is the older sister of Richard Grossi, who died seven years ago in October. Grossi was critically injured on Sept. 12, 2009, when an unlicensed illegal immigrant named Maria Leite ran a stoplight and “T-boned” him. Six weeks later, on Oct. 21, 2009, Grossi died from his injuries.
Laquerre told CR that Leite, a Portugal native, was in the United States on a vacation visa that expired on Nov. 23, 2006. She and her family stayed almost 4 more years beyond that date.
Though Leite was charged with vehicular homicide and eventually deported in July 2010, Laquerre says she is convinced that, if it weren’t for a staunch effort on behalf of herself and a few others, her brother’s killer would still be here.
Laquerre said that before the formal trial even took place, she was encouraged to “stay home.”
“You don’t have to be here, you know,” she recalled court officials telling her. “Nothing’s really gonna happen.”
“Till the last day” of the trial, Laquerre recalled the judge and others saying, “she might run,” using that as an excuse for their inaction. “They didn’t want to have a trial.”
According to Laquerre, Leite had “no remorse” during court proceedings, and “the whole thing went exactly the way she wanted it.” Leite was granted permission to stay in the country until her daughter’s school let out in June. And though she was on house arrest, Laquerre remembers seeing her out in public multiple times.
She recounted one particular occasion in which she saw Leite in the grocery store. As soon as the two made eye contact, Leite ran away. Laquerre mentioned this to the city’s district attorney at the time, who told her that Leite “[had] to perform her wifely duties.” Apparently she was permitted to run errands, attend religious services, and go to work while on house arrest.
“She showed not a speck of remorse,” Laquerre said, adding that this seems to be the norm in these incidents involving illegal aliens. “They know what they did — they took a life.”
She added that Maria Leite was always late for court, which never seemed to bother those running the proceedings.
“I really got an eye-opener with the court system and what a waste of time [it is],” she said, adding that the DA warned her, “There’s not a court in the state of Massachusetts that’s gonna send her to jail.”
“I’m thrilled that Nicolas Guaman is in jail for killing Matt Denice,” Laquerre continued, “but every month … he’s gonna keep appealing this, and it opens the wound over and over again for the families. Really?! You committed a crime!”
Both Maloney and Laquerre credit state Sen. Ryan Fattman (R-Webster) for being a voice for their cause when so few in the Milford community seem interested. Laquerre said that Fattman’s predecessor “ignored us, just like everyone else,” but Fattman accompanied her to court.
Speaking to CR, Fattman, who has represented the Maloney family in the state senate and maintains a close relationship with both families, praised their joint work to combat illegal immigration.
“They’re very caring, compassionate people, and all their activism revolves around the idea that they don’t want this to happen to anybody else’s loved ones,” the state senator said of the Laquerres and the Maloneys.
“They obviously suffered a really great tragedy, and they want to make sure that other families don’t have to suffer the way they did. And in their opinion, and in mine, that just goes to enforcing the laws that we have on our books with regards to immigration.”
But addressing immigration law violations has proven almost impossible in a town where even the residents seem to be taking cues from officials who’d rather ignore the problem. Laquerre, who divides her time between Florida and Massachusetts, shared a story about her last trip up north that illustrates this point.
Last year, Laquerre approached the homeowner who lives near the intersection where Richard was killed about placing a wooden memorial cross on his fence. She told CR in an email that the man was “very receptive” to the idea and agreed. After a few months away, Laquerre returned to Milford to find that the cross had fallen down.
“I took the cross home and we made some repairs,” she explained. But when she returned with the mended cross and asked to put it up again, the same homeowner who gave her the go-ahead had changed his mind.
“[He] told me he would rather I not put it up again,” she said.
“I was heartbroken and so angry,” Laquerre added. “So in a year’s time why would this man change his mind? Politics and someone said something to this man. So now we can't even memorialize Richard in that town.”
CR contacted the homeowner, who refused to comment on the incident.
The long road ahead
For many voters, illegal immigration is a key issue in this presidential election. For Maureen Laquerre and Maureen Maloney, however, it is the issue.
"The U.S. is a nation of laws. I choose to uphold our laws and to put Americans and legal immigrants first. I believe in our Constitution and our country,” Maloney told CR. “I have family and friends that were born in foreign countries, but they all came to the U.S. legally. It is not fair to U.S. citizens or legal immigrants to reward illegal aliens who circumvent the process and grant permission for legal entry into the U.S."
“Those borders — they’re about as secure as me walking next door to my neighbor’s yard,” Laquerre said. “[Officials] don’t even know who’s here.”
Laquerre told CR that she fully supports a complete temporary ban on immigration, until the government can “get a grip on it.”
“I’m not a bigot,” Laquerre, who grew up in Catholic family with six siblings, stressed. “We weren’t brought up that way. We treated everyone equally.”
Laquerre noted that her brother Richard was always looking out for others in the community. At her brother’s wake, a woman came up to Laquerre and told her that the outfit she was wearing, which Richard had given to her, probably belonged to one of her siblings at some point.
“…that was my brother Richard,” she said.
But like Maloney, Laquerre believes that standing up against illegal immigration is as simple as enforcing the laws that are already in place.
“When did they change the definition in the dictionary of ‘illegal’?” Laquerre asked. “When? Because when I go, and I do something illegal, the cops are right on me. And they’ve got the handcuffs, and I’m paying through the nose to get a lawyer, and I’m in big trouble.”
Illegals, on the other hand, “don’t pay the consequences,” Laquerre said. “And these are lives that are being taken. We’re not talking like they stole our car or they robbed our house. They’re taking family members away.”