Agreement enables Law Department to criminally pursue problem properties more efficiently


SOMERVILLE — Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan and Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone have reached an agreement under which the City of Somerville’s Law Department will be able to criminally prosecute certain code violations.


The memorandum of understanding allows Assistant City Solicitor David Shapiro to act as a Special Assistant District Attorney responsible for handling Somerville cases. The agreement coordinates efforts between the City and the District Attorney’s office, and will enable the City to pursue problem property owners more efficiently.


Shapiro, a 20-year veteran of the city’s Law Department, was sworn in by the District Attorney on May 31. He will be responsible for prosecuting violations of the fire prevention, building, sanitary, and zoning codes. Shapiro will be a designated liaison to Ryan’s office and will handle arraignments and other court dates. Should the case progress to trial, an Assistant District Attorney and Shapiro will serve as co-counsel.


“We appreciate the opportunity to be working with District Attorney Marian Ryan and her office. This cooperative agreement allows the city’s Law Department to expeditiously address problem property matters reported to our Inspectional Services Department,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “This will better serve both the residents of those properties and the surrounding neighborhoods.”


The city’s Inspectional Services Division enforces the fire prevention, building, zoning, and sanitary codes. Code violations are administrative, but can become criminal matters if an offender fails to comply.


If, for example, a landlord has an unsafe porch or allows too many unrelated persons to live in an apartment, the City issues a violation notice. If citations do not result in a satisfactory resolution of these issues, the City may potentially file a criminal complaint before a clerk magistrate at Somerville District Court.


The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office reserves the right to resume the primary role in the prosecution of these cases at any time.

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