Friday June 14, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- After close to 14 years and more than a hundred criminal cases in Berkshire County, a local prosecutor will be heading to Washington, D.C., to take on federal cases involving organized crime.

"I’ve always been interested in federal prosecution, and as time has gone on I wanted to branch out a little more, get more of an experience," said Marianne Shelvey, an assistant Berkshire District Attorney.

Shelvey will be joining the U.S. Department of Justice as a trial attorney in the Criminal Division assigned to the Organized Crime and Gangs section beginning July 1.

She said she’s drawn to cases involving "drugs, guns and gangs."

Even as a youngster, growing up in Westford, outside of Boston, Shelvey was interested in the Mafia and its inner-workings, she said.

Her new job entails a lot of travel as she will be heading to U.S. Attorney’s offices in various locations, assisting in prosecutions wherever she’s needed in cases involving street gangs and other criminal organizations.

"Obviously, the [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] is going to be a huge part of what I see," she said.

Known by the acronym RICO, the federal law was enacted in 1970 to combat organized crime and has been widely used to prosecute cases involving the American Mafia.

She said that her time as a prosecutor in Berkshire County has provided her with a good background for her new job.

"Even though people hear ‘Berkshire County’ and think of Norman Rockwell, we certainly do our share of intense trial work," said Shelvey.

She said that at the Berkshire DA’s Office attorneys are allowed to prosecute a variety of criminal cases.

"We are not pigeonholed. We all try different types of cases," said Shelvey. "I think it’s good in terms of experiences, keeping you on your toes. Š Each one has its own challenges."

Known as a tough prosecutor, Shelvey said it takes "a special kind of person" to do this job, because of the nature of the work and the sometimes odd hours.

"I went to law school to become a prosecutor," she said.

Shelvey got her law degree from Western New England University in Springfield, and was in the same class with one of her fellow prosecutors, Gregory Barry, as well as a local defense attorney, Thomas C. Doyle.

She started with the DA’s Office here in 1999 working her way from the District Court level to prosecuting cases in Superior Court. She gave a conservative estimate of 150 cases she’s taken to trial in her time with the office.

Of the many cases she has tried, she said one that stood out was the 2011 trial of Gary Mercure, where she was co-counsel with First Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Paul J. Caccaviello.

Mercure was a former Roman Catholic priest who was convicted of raping two altar boys in Berkshire County in the 1980s during camping trips to the area. He was sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.

She said each of the victims dealt with what happened to them in very different ways.

"A lot of cases [involving victims of sexual abuse] are hard Š because you get to know them really well over the course of a year or two years, going through it with them, reliving it with them," she said.

She said she will miss her DA’s Office coworkers whom she considers a "second family."

"These aren’t just colleagues. We’re friends who’ve been through very personal life experiences together -- marriage, divorce, births of children, deaths," said Shelvey. "We all just sort of mesh."

To reach Andrew Amelinckx:
aamelinckx@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6249.
On Twitter: @BE_TheAmelinckx