Authors note: I have thought about this story for 4 years. It has kept me up at night, mystified me and made me downright angry. The corruption. The incompetence. The lies. The story was first reported here by the only real Journalist left in America. It still felt like a ”local” story to me. I hope I can bring more light to it nationally. The news came and went quickly after Ron Tarantino was gunned down. That angered me as well, I hope I can keep a little bit of his memory alive here in next few weeks retelling one of the most bizarre, and frankly, sad stories in the history of the commonwealth.
Part 1 : The Criminal and the Judges Daughter
Prison’s date all the way back to 1500s England. The early colonizers thought people committed crimes because they were possessed by evil spirits. The early prisons were constructed almost like dungeons. Prisoners ate alone. They lived alone behind high mud walls. The first idea behind prisons was that the criminal was possessed by some sort of demon, therefore incarceration was necessary so they could not infect the rest of the world.
Judge Andrew Mandell talked tough. Almost like a lecturing parent. The Judge had seen this movie before. He knew all the characters, subplots, bit players and extras. He also should have known that the man in front of him, 35 year-old Jorge Zambrano of Worcester, Ma was on a collision course. Mandell called Zambrano ”Troubling” ”He seems to have no respect for authority, in fact it’s exactly the opposite” ”How many times is it going to take here? ” Was the last question the judge asked. It was a legitimate question. Zambrano had 84 criminal cases on the docket, ranging from assault on Police officers, cocaine trafficking and domestic violence. Zambrano did 3 years of a 7 year sentence for trafficking drugs from 2004-2007. Jorge Zambrano had major disdain for authority. Zambrano was in Clinton District Court that morning just 1 month after assaulting another Police Officer, and 3 months before murdering one. Judge Mandell opted to put Zambrano back on the streets. Setting bail at just 500$ cash and 5,000$ surety. Zambrano was back on the streets of Worcester with his Pit Bull and Girlfriend, Heather Phillip, in tow in just hours.
Ron Tarantino was a pretty good Basketball player. He stood 6’4 and was the co-captain of his high school Basketball team at Tewksbury Memorial High before graduating in 1991. Tarantino’s Dad was a cop. Serving 42 years. Young Ron’s only childhood ambition was to serve in uniform like his Dad. Tarantino got his wish graduating from the full-time academy in 2008, after being voted Squad Leader by his peers in the Boylston Academy before hitting the streets in Leicester, Ma and eventually transferring to Auburn, Ma. Tarantino had already married his College sweetheart Trish. The couple had a great relationship, always smiling, teasing each other. The two seemed made for each other. The couple raised 3 boys together, one of which is an Infantryman in the Army, serving at Fort Benning, GA.
Based on my experience so far there is no way I could picture myself doing anything else. It is definitely all I thought it was going to be…
To sum it all up, it is a longtime dream come true for me. I’m where I want to be…”
—Excerpt from Ron’s letter to the Director of the Boylston Police Academy, about fulfilling his dream to be a police officer
Jorge Zambrano, even in a relaxed setting was almost always tense. Sources told me that Zambrano was always paranoid and thought the cops were following him. The last time the source saw Zambrano, about a month before Ron Tarantino pulled his Infinity QX4 over for attaching license plates, Zambrano had a Glock pistol in a holster on his hip and a backpack full of bullets. Zambrano was always paranoid, and always prepared for war. The overriding question I have had since the shooting in 2016 is: How was Jorge Zambrano, a ticking time bomb, who had threatened, punched, and kicked police officers allowed to be out on the street? Prisons were seemingly built for guys like Zambrano, but even after 84 cases he was still walking the streets and was an armed powder keg.
The story, which would probably be rejected as to far-fetched for Hollywood screenwriters is deeply troubling. It exposes corruption, favoritism and just outright incompetence.
The story really unfurls with Two individuals who were not present for the shooting. Ashley Losapio and Giancarlo Zambrano. The latter Zambrano is the brother of Jorge Zambrano. Losapio, the step daughter of Uxbridge District Court Judge Paul Losapio, who was a Worcester Superior Court Judge at the time. Ashley Losapio was appointed as an associate probation officer on July 24, 2006 with a starting salary of 33,017.00, she was also the girlfriend of the alleged Cop killer’s brother: Giancarlo Zambrano. Losapio, the daughter of the judge has some skeletons in the closet, however. First reported by the only real Journalist left in America.
Losapio went by the street name ”Shorty” and had a reputation in Worcester for fraternizing with known criminals. It was confirmed in interviews with the Worcester Police that Losapio was known to associate with criminals under investigation by the Worcester Police and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Worcester Police intercepted wiretaps where a known criminal while in court, saw ”Shorty” and she gave him the signal that ”Everything will be alright” . In another intercepted correspondence, A known criminal on a court ordered wiretap was overheard saying ”We got useful information from Ashley L” Losapio also had the phone numbers of known criminals programmed into her cellular phone. One can venture to guess that Losapio was privy to all court proceedings being there everyday, and with such an expansive list of criminals in her cell phone it’s not much of a stretch to think she was communicating sensitive information right to them. The Worcester Police had their suspicions as well. Sources tell me that most Detectives in the Department knew Losapio was working with the criminals, an inside man if you will. Using her position to feed information about informants, who was in court on what day so witnesses could be intimidated. It was an open secret amongst the department that a Probation officer, and a daughter of a Judge in Superior Court was a breadth of information for local criminals.
The Worcester Police had an expansive file on Losapio. So much so Worcester Police wrote to Chief Probation Officer for Worcester Superior Court, Thomas Turco. On April 4, 2008 Worcester Police met with Turco and explained that Losapio’s associates were violent criminals with access to enough weaponry that if the information Losapio was so freewheeling with got into the wrong hands, a lot of people could be hurt. Of course this meeting did not result in a suspension for Losapio, but it did result in a in person interview with the Worcester Police later that day. Losapio admitted to investigators that she knowingly fraternized with known criminals, accessed work databases to find information on criminal histories outside her scope of work, but reasoned ” It was all public information, anyway”
On April 9, 2006 Losapio was informed by letter that “[b]ased upon preliminary information you are
excluded from courtroom work and are instructed to perform limited office duties within the
probation office. In addition, your Court Activity Record Information (CARI) password will be
suspended, pending the outcome of this investigation.” On April 16, 2008 Losapio was informed of her transfer to Westborough District Court, on May 27, 2008 Losapio was made aware of the following discipline: One week suspension without pay, One week suspension to be taken out of her earned time, and a permanent assignment to Westborough District Court. The investigators noted that Losapio took ”Full Responsibility” ”Seemed contrite” and had no other disciplinary issues on her record.
The Worcester Police Department, very weary of Losapio, never heard back from the Trial Court on the outcome of the Losapio investigation. After the punishment was doled out, Worcester Police provided Facebook screenshots of Losapio in the company of known criminals even after being slapped on the wrist. Chris Bulger, counsel for the trial court testified that the punishment for Losapio was warranted considering the crime. The Step daughter of a Judge, who accessed work databases to knowingly feed information to her criminal friends got a two week paid vacation, and a permanent change of station. Worcester Police continued to inquire about the punishment and the subsequent reassignment of Losapio, and were advised due to Losapio being a union employee, their hands were basically tied, and firing Losapio might be tough to do, considering the evidence.
How could a person who Worcester Police stated ”Is not suitable to serve the community” stay on the job? Not only stay on the job, but get an easier posting, and a raise as a result of a criminal investigation? It goes to show in Massachusetts, following the law is not of the most importance for the politically-connected. All that matters is who you know, or who your Step Father is.
How does all of this tie into a murder of a Police Officer almost 8 years later? It speaks to the lenient, pro-criminal Massachusetts justice system. A quick Google search of Judge Losapio’s rulings while on the bench at Worcester Superior court will tell the story. I don’t hate my readers enough to rehash everyone of them, but leniency was the norm in Losapio’s courtroom. Judge Andrew Mandell also occupied a courtroom in Worcester Superior Court and was a colleague of Losapio’s.
The same Mandell who was the last Judge Jorge Zambrano saw before Murdering Ron Tarantino, surely Mandell knew that he was looking at the brother of his his former colleague’s boyfriend. Surely Mandell could adjust his glasses and look down at the 84 criminal offenses on his rap sheet. You know the one where he let his Pit Bull loose on the State Police? How about the violent confrontation with Mass State Trooper Ray Burton? Ray Burton wrote in his report that Zambrano was ”Dangerous” and that Zambrano stated while cuffed ”Let me go, I will take of you” I am guess Mandell had access right there and then that Zambrano had missed 4 drug tests recently that he was court ordered to take as part of his probation? I am sure Mandell knew all of that. Even after the prosecutor asked to revoke bail and lock Zambrano up, Mandell set the bail at just 500$ cash..
Stay Tuned for part 2 : The Killing, The Swat Team, and the aftermath.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of Heroes Media Group