State trooper accused in double fatal crash allowed Maine vacation with family
By Benjamin Paulin
July 29, 2014
Note: This article was originally published on PatriotLedger.com
BROCKTON – The state trooper accused of killing a mother and daughter in a 2013 car crash has yet to spend a day in jail, or pay any bail in the case. On Monday, a judge granted suspended trooper John Basler permission to go on vacation with his family next month in Maine, a move which angered the family of the victims.
Basler faces motor vehicle homicide and drunken driving charges after an early morning crash in Plymouth last year that killed Susan Macchi, 64, and her daughter, Juliette Macchi, 22. The two were on their way home from a Red Sox game on Sept. 22.
Basler walked into Brockton Superior Court Monday for a pretrial conference wearing a suit and tie. His attorney Michael Erlich asked that he be allowed to leave the state to go on a trip with his family.
Typically, those facing criminal charges in Massachusetts that are out on personal recognizance or have posted bail need permission from a judge or probation officials in order to leave the state.
Judge Frank Gaziano approved the request, and Basler will be able to go to Maine from Aug. 13-19. The inquiry was not opposed by Plymouth County Assistant District Attorney Matthew Libby.
The request is something that Susan Macchi’s brother Tim Brightman said angered his family members, who were in court Monday.
“We were taken aback by the fact that he’s going to go on vacation while he’s awaiting trial,” Brightman said. “It didn’t sit well.”
After the crash, Basler’s blood-alcohol level registered .19, more than twice the legal limit of .08, authorities said. He was off-duty, driving his own Toyota Corolla at the time of crash.
Basler wasn’t arrested at the scene, and six days later was issued a summons to appear in court at a later date.
It took several days for state police to acknowledge that Basler had been involved in the crash. It took seven months for a grand jury investigation to later indict Basler in connection with the two deaths.
For Brightman, the permission for Basler to travel out of state for vacation is yet another incident in this case that makes his stomach turn
“Everything about this is another wound,” he said. “I’ve seen multiple cases now where people have car accidents and they’re drunk and they go to jail and this guy has never done a day in jail.”
“The very uncomfortable part of going to court is having to walk by him and see him sitting in his suit,” Brightman said.
Basler is charged with two counts of manslaughter by motor vehicle, two counts of motor vehicle homicide by drunk driving and negligent operation, drunk driving, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, negligent operation of a motor vehicle and carrying a firearm while intoxicated.
Basler must abide by his conditions of release while up in Maine, which are that he not possess firearms, not drive a motor vehicle, not consume alcohol or drugs and submit to random alcohol testing.
State police suspended Basler indefinitely without pay on Oct. 3. He was assigned to the state police barracks in Milton.
When asked about the travel request outside the courthouse, Erlich said, “That’s not really relevant to this case.”
While Brightman and his family are upset, Brockton defense attorney Gerald J. Noonan said the request was “fair and reasonable.”
“People in our system of justice are innocent until proven guilty,” Noonan said. “People have due process rights.”
The travel permission would not likely have been granted if Basler were a flight risk, said attorney Patrick Noonan, Gerald Noonan’s son.
“It’s clear to the judge that this is not a person that is going to flee and not return,” Patrick Noonan said.
While Brightman said he has a respect for law enforcement because his brother was a police sergeant in Foxboro, Monday was yet another emotional hurdle for he and his family.
“I give the law enforcement the benefit of the doubt because my late brother was a police officer, but it’s certainly making me start to wonder,” he said.
Benjamin Paulin may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.