Alleged groping oyster shucker could face drug charges, deportation
An oyster shucker charged with fondling a waitress at Durgin-Park skipped court, then got a new job shucking oysters at the Union Oyster House, where he was nabbed as part of a drug investigation. Meanwhile, ICE wants him as a possible illegal immigrant.
Two Boston Police detectives detailed some of Wilmer Fernandez's activities this morning at a Boston Licensing Board hearing on the circumstances surrounding his arrest at the Union Oyster House on Oct. 22.
It's the second time Fernandez's name has come up at a licensing-board hearing. Last June, the board heard from waitresses at Durgin-Park that they had learned to avoid Fernandez because of his tendency to grab their asses. One waitress refused to put up with it, he was arrested for indecent assault and battery, the restaurant fired him and the board suspended the restaurant's liquor license for two days.
According to the Suffolk County District Attorney's office, Fernandez failed to appear at his July 25 arraignment, but did manage to get a new job at the Union Oyster House's oyster bar.
Det. Peter Chu said he and another detective investigating whether Fernandez has gotten into cocaine dealing showed up at the Union Oyster House on Oct. 22 to search his locker. They found only a backpack, clothing and personal papers in the locker, but as they were questioning him, Chu said, Fernandez asked "Is this about the girl?" Chu said he replied, "What girl?" and that led into a new line of questioning that led to Fernandez's arrest for defaulting on the original Durgin-Park charge.
The DA's office says Fernandez was arraigned on the Durgin-Park charge two days later and is next scheduled to appear in court on March 19. Chu, however, said ICE is looking at Fernandez because he may be in the country illegally. Chu added the drug investigation continues.
Michael Milano, the restaurant's manager and a member of the family that has long owned the historic landmark, said he was shocked to learn about the allegations involving Fernandez. His lawyer, Steven Goldstein, said this morning's hearing was the first time he had even heard most of them.
Police initially cited the restaurant for drug dealing by an employee and being uncooperative with police. Board Chairwoman Nicole Murati Ferrer, however, said, the restaurant would not get into trouble for the first charge because police presented no evidence Fernandez was dealing drugs in the restaurant, so it will only consider the allegation of not aiding police.
Det. William Dwan said that when he and Chu first arrived at the restaurant, Milano seemed "evasive and uncooperative" at first. Milano, son of a longtime Brookline police officer, however, apologized if what he said was nervousness appeared to be evasiveness. "I honestly didn't know if he had a locker," because not all employees do, he added.
Fernandez is innocent, etc.