Coakley drawing criticism for cost of special prosecutor

John O'Brien Nov. 26, 2007, 5:11pm


BOSTON - It has cost the State of Massachusetts almost $1 million to bring manslaughter charges against one company in the fatal collapse of the Big Dig construction project.

According to a report in the Boston Globe, the special prosecutor hired by state Attorney General Martha Coakley is billing the State nearly $30,000 every week. Coakley said Paul Ware Jr.'s contract might even be renewed when he reaches his cap of $978,000.

"Assembling the best legal team available has been crucial," Coakley said. "The Big Dig presents an extremely complicated and unprecedented set of legal and factual issues for the Commonwealth."

Powers Fasteners pleaded not guilty in September to a manslaughter charge stemming from the July 2006 death of 38-year-old Milena Del Valle.

Powers Fasteners marketed and distributed the epoxy anchor bolt system used on the I-90 Connector Tunnel, part of the Big Dig project that started in 1991. Del Valle was killed when a suspended concrete ceiling panel collapsed on her vehicle.

If convicted, the company faces a maximum fine of $1,000. It has alleged that Coakley is chasing a settlement.

"I'm unpleasantly surprised, but not shocked," state Sen. Mark Montigny, D-New Bedford, a member of the Legislature's Joint Committee on Transportation, said in the report.

"This project has been a dream for all lawyers, a full employment act for most law firms, construction firms, and public relations firms, and a nightmare for taxpayers.

"When I look at this fee, which is exorbitant to me and most rational people, the only thing I can say is it's consistent. The taxpayer has been consistently ripped off."

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