After uproar, state withdraws planned changes for North Station commuter-rail routes for now

MassDOT and the MBTA today withdrew impending changes to the schedules of North Station commuter-rail line, saying they will come up with new proposed schedules next month to go into effect this spring - after public comment.

In December, the MBTA will release in draft form proposed new schedules for both North Side and South Side services, along with specific plans for extensive public engagement. Following the period of public engagement, MassDOT and the MBTA will make changes based on the feedback received and then implement the new schedules for the entire Commuter Rail system in spring 2016.

State officials insist the changes will help "minimize cascading failures and ensure that on-time service can be delivered both safely and consistently." But in a statement, state Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack acknowledged:

The MBTA needs to do more than provide reliable Commuter Rail service to our customers - it needs to listen to those customers and understand their needs and concerns and incorporate them into service planning. We understand that even small challenges in long-standing schedules impact the daily lives of our riders and we need to hear and incorporate their feedback before finalizing schedule changes.

No more Pretty Things beer

The local craft brewers are calling it a day, with their last beer to ship in a couple weeks:

We hope our beers brought you joy and brought you closer together. There’s no greater goal for a batch of beer or a project like ours.

After seven years it’s time to draw the curtains and head off to a new adventure. A poorly drawn grain of barley called Jack D’Or made this whole thing possible. He’ll be coming with us.

Cheers to you all.

Via Boston Restaurant Talk.

Citizen complaint of the day: Affleck's from Cambridge, so he can park his cars there instead of in South Boston

A peeved citizen, or maybe a citizen who's trying to be funny, it's hard to tell when it comes to Southie, filed a complaint today that these two cars, parked outside 61 M St., don't have residential parking permits.

The city replies:

Case Closed. Case Noted. Resident parking goes into effect at 6pm. Will check area then.

Cars for Ben's movie parked in the Back Bay.

Dorchester man wanted for killing, immolating woman as revenge for son's murder

Plymouth County officials have issued an APB for Fernando Owens, 43, of Dorchester, on charges he murdered a New Jersey woman and set her body on fire because he apparently thought she had something to do with the murder of his son Dominic, shot to death on Shepton Street in Dorchester on Nov. 3.

The Plymouth County District Attorney's office reports:

State Police investigators have determined that Owens was acquainted with the victim in this case and that he believed [Ashley Bortner, 29], had a hand in the recent death of Fernando's son, Domenic Owens. Police seized items from Fernando Owens' home at 65 Lonsdale Street in Dorchester that link him to the murder, including the same sort of Egyptian cotton bath towel and identical electrical cord found on the victim.

Dominic Owens died around the corner from his father's home.

Prosecutors say Bortner's body was found, burning, near train tracks in Bridgewater, almost 24 hours after the younger Owens's death:

Her body was burned over 70%, she had been gagged by her own clothing and her face was wrapped with a towel and she was found in a comforter. Bortner’s hands and feet were bound behind her and electrical cord was around her neck.

Separately, a Manchester, NH husband and wife were charged with being accessories after the fact:

Cell phone records from the Squires put the couple in Bridgewater around the time of the 911 call to Bridgewater Police on November 3rd. Additionally, the Squires own a vehicle similar to the dark SUV described by the 911 caller.

If you see Owens, contact State Police at 508-947-8087, MBTA Transit Police at 617-222-1050 or Bridgewater Police at 508-697-6118.

Innocent, etc.

DA: Man posed as high-flying lawyer, bilked clients

From his Web site.

A man who claimed to be "a Harvard educated attorney" with offices in Boston, New York and London is, in fact, a con man who bilked at least two clients out of thousands of dollars for legal work he never did - and bought stuff using their names - the Suffolk County District Attorney's office charges.

David Koraca, a.k.a. David Corazza, whose Web site claims "decades of experience helping clients prepare for, avoid and manage a wide range of corporate crises involving legal, business, consumer, shareholder and public relations issues" and an office at International Place, was arraigned today in Boston Municipal Court on two counts each of unauthorized practice of law and larceny over $250 by scheme, the DA's office reports.

He had bail set at $10,000.

According to the DA's office:

In July, an acquaintance accepted Koraca’s offer of legal help with financial issues she was experiencing. The victim met with Koraca at his rented office at One International Place, where Koraca made copies of her credit cards and took down her personal information, including Social Security number, prosecutors said.

In October, the victim discovered $1,004.22 in unauthorized charges on one of her credit cards – many of which were made to Amazon. When she confronted Koraca, he allegedly told the victim that the charges were for his services. He later allegedly made statements to the victim that he would reimburse the credit card charges; however, he never made the payments, prosecutors said.

A second acquaintance in September hired to Koraca to represent her in divorce proceedings. She paid Koraca a total of $6,960 for legal services and provided personal and credit card information, prosecutors said. The victim later made repeated attempts to contact Koraca but received no response.

Earlier this month, the woman discovered unauthorized charges on her credit cards and accounts totaling more than $21,000. Among those charges were payments made to the company from which Koraca rented his One International Place office, prosecutors said.

Boston Police assigned to the department’s Special Investigations Unit arrested Koraca at his office yesterday. He was found with a Massachusetts Bar Association card bearing the name David Corazza and an ID number. The MBA has no record of a David Koraca or a David Corazza authorized to practice law, nor do they have a record of any attorney assigned the number on the card, prosecutors said.

On Koraca's page, he lists a background that does not include a law degree:

He demonstrated his grasp for management by supervising staff and handling scheduling and budgeting for three Home Box Office, Inc. (HBO) series, The Sopranos, Entourage, and Oz. In addition, David Corazza offered his services as a financial analyst and contract negotiator to Universal Studios, Showtime Networks Inc., HBO, and Playboy.

David Corazza attended New York University to study finance and law, and he took courses in film production and screenwriting at American Film Institute, where he received a Master's degree. At present, he is studying for his MBA in International Business at Harvard University. David Corazza serves as Vice President of Universal Jet Charter, as well as a VIP host in Las Vegas. He continues to produce commercials and music videos, and he regularly speaks at film festivals and fundraisers.

Innocent, etc.

Winter is coming - and with it the return of the 48-hour space-saver rule

Boston officials gathered in front of a giant pile of sand and one of the city's two new mega snow blowers today to vow they're ready for what winter might bring.

Mayor Walsh said the new snow movers will help Boston begin to emulate what Montreal does, rather than what Boston has traditionally done: Remove snow as it falls, rather than just piling it up along curbs and on street corners.

Public Works Commissioner Michael Dennehy said the new snow blowers, when combined with dump trucks, can move 2,000 tons of snow an hour off streets - which he said was a key reason he decided to buy two of them, rather than buying snow melters, which, at best can melt 350 tons of snow an hour.

Walsh noted that after last winter's storms, the city had to spend considerable amounts just in overtime for removing all that piled up snow and ice, long after the storms had ended.

"We're going from a city that used to push snow around to a city that actually takes the snow off the street," he said, adding he hopes to set aside money to buy a new giant snow blower a year for the next few years. Dennehy added that private snow-removal contractors will get paid a bonus if they buy similar units and use them on city streets.

Walsh started a press conference at the DPW facility on Frontage Road by declaring the city will continue the long-standing practice of letting residents who dig out spaces save them for 48 hours after the end of a snow emergency. He noted the one exception is the South End, where the city will continue last year's pilot of banning all space savers all the time.

Dennehy said the city is looking to find additional places to stow snow, because the higher the snow gets piled, the longer it takes to melt - the last of the Tide Street snow didn't melt until July 14. He added, though, that even if the city can't find additional land for snow piles, he remains committed to keeping street snow from being dumped into Boston Harbor. He noted DPW crews pulled 400 tons of stuff out of the snow piled at Tide Street - 400 tons of things that did not wind up in the harbor.

City officials added they are looking to add more beds to the city's shelter system for the homeless - and that the state is looking at possible sites outside the city for shelters to help relieve the stress on Boston.

Walsh said the city would consider a return to the one-way street experiment in South Boston if conditions warranted - and that the Transportation Department is looking at other gridded parts of the city where that might also work - in East Boston and parts of Dorchester and Roxbury.

Walsh also said that "We've been giving guarantees by the T that service will be up and running."

New city snow blower to Mother Nature: Bring it.

New Boston giant snow blower

Sheesh, you'd think Harvard men would be smart enough to avoid parties with women in shark costumes

The Globe reports one of the U's exclusive men's clubs held a party after deciding to admit women that featured much debauchery, including, yes, women in shark costumes (like this?), and that's just not the sort of thing a proper Harvard gentleman should be caught near, and now the club is being forced to sit in a corner and take a serious time out.

Two more members of Dorchester condo-flipping ring get prison

Two Virginia residents who recruited bogus buyers in Michael David Scott's scheme to defraud banks in Dorchester and Roxbury condo deals have each been sentenced to two years in federal prison.

Jerrold Fowler, 31, and Thursa Raetz, 40, pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme earlier this year; they were sentenced last week in US District Court in Boston.

Each will also have to pay more than $10 million in restitution and forfeitures for their work between 2006 and 2008, the US Attorney's office in Boston reports.

Earlier this month, Scott was sentenced to more than 11 years in federal prison for orchestrating a scheme in which he and several brokers and lawyers would purchase apartment buildings, convert them into condos, then arrange for straw purchasers to buy them in exchange for a fee. The buyers would then disappear, leaving Scott and associates with the proceeds from the sales and lenders holding the bag.

According to the US Attorney's office:

Scott, Raetz, and Fowler recruited the straw buyers with promises that they would not have to make down payments, pay any funds at the closing, or be responsible for mortgage payments, and with assurances that they also would share in profits when the units were resold. In order to obtain mortgage loans in the names of the straw buyers, Scott, Raetz, and Fowler submitted mortgage loan applications that falsely represented key information, including the buyers’ income, personal assets, down payment, and intention to reside in the condominiums. The mortgage lenders (nine national mortgage companies and one local bank) were led to believe that the straw buyers had made substantial down payments and paid substantial sums at closings.