Holyoke police chief disturbed by earlier sentencing of murder suspect

  • Jean Carlos Rivera, 30, of Holyoke, pleaded not guilty to murder in connection with the fatal shooting of city resident Jesus Otero Marrero, 21, on Tuesday. HAMPDEN COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

  • GAZETTE FILE PHOTO  GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 1/15/2020 5:06:38 PM
Modified: 1/15/2020 5:05:47 PM

HOLYOKE — After the recent killing of 21-year-old city resident Jesus Otero Marrero, Holyoke’s police chief is criticizing a federal judge over the sentence he previously gave to the man who is now charged with Marrero’s murder.

In an email to reporters, Police Chief Manuel “Manny” Febo said that the fatal shooting of city resident Jesus Otero Marrero “might have been prevented” if a federal judge in Springfield had sentenced Jean Carlos Rivera, 30, to a longer sentence when he pleaded guilty in November to a drug charge. On Tuesday, Rivera pleaded not guilty to murder in connection to Marrero’s killing.

In June of 2018, Rivera was indicted in federal court for distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base. Febo said the police department supported federal prosecutors who argued Rivera should serve a sentence within the 33 to 41 months in prison available under federal sentencing guidelines.

“The presiding judge however sentenced Rivera, a validated ‘La Familia’ street gang member, to one month of time served and a probation term without explanation and he was soon released back into the South Holyoke neighborhood,” Febo wrote in the email. “Case investigators were stunned at the time.”

Febo described the killing as a “gang-land” slaying, noting that Otero-Marrero “had been shot multiple times at close range.” Febo did not respond to follow-up questions by email regarding his claim of Rivera’s gang member status and why Rivera is law enforcement’s primary suspect. On Tuesday, Holyoke District Court Judge William P. Hadley impounded Rivera’s entire court file for 90 days.

Judge Mark G. Mastroianni was the judge in Rivera’s drug case, though Febo did not name Mastroianni in his statement. A spokesperson for the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts said that Mastroianni and the court declined to comment on the case.  

The government’s evidence in the drug case was based on purchases that a confidential witness, or CW, reportedly made from Rivera late in 2017. That witness had pending drug charges against him in both Hampden Superior Court and Springfield District Court, and federal prosecutors told the witness that they would inform the prosecutor in those cases of his cooperation.

“The FBI paid the CW approximately $5,400 for services and expenses,” assistant U.S. attorney Todd Newhouse wrote in a discovery document in the case. “It is anticipated that he will be paid for relocation expenses and I will update the amount when it changes.”

Rivera pleaded guilty to the drug charge and on Nov. 15, 2019, Mastroianni sentenced him to time served and three years of supervised release.

“My hope is for increased Federal judicial support for our community as we continue to improve the quality of life, having invested heavily in partnering with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to make Holyoke a safer place,” Febo said.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.

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