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Driver charged in death of friend

By Anna L. Griffin TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
[email protected]

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Nathan R. Fini reacts yesterday during his arraignment. (T&G Staff / RICK CINCLAIR)

LEOMINSTER- A Leominster man was driving drunk and speeding early yesterday when his car went out of control on Prospect Street and hit a utility pole, killing his passenger, police said.

The driver, Nathan Richard Fini, 20, 10 Marjorie St., was being held on $15,000 cash, $150,000 surety after his arraignment yesterday afternoon in Leominster District Court.

The man killed in the accident was Mr. Fini's friend, Kenneth Keogh, 20, 14 Cottage St.


Mr. Keogh

Police say the two underage men had been drinking at a local bar, Christopher's Pub, shortly before the crash, which occurred about 1:30 a.m. near 303 Prospect St.

After the crash, Mr. Fini dragged Mr. Keogh's body from the scene and told officers he had been alone in the car, police said.

"I hope he stays in jail for a long time," said Kevin Keogh, father of Kenneth Keogh, speaking of Mr. Fini. "I hope he doesn't get out for a long, long time."

Kenneth Keogh lived with his father and mother, Donna Paquette. Ms. Paquette said she last saw her son at 12:30 p.m.

"I asked him where he was going. He told me he was going out with Fini. I said, 'Be careful,' because I knew he had been in trouble before. That's the last thing I ever said to my baby," Ms. Paquette said.

At 3 a.m. yesterday, the couple was awakened by a knock at the door. "It was the police. They told us to sit down," Mr. Keogh said. "We thought he had gotten into some type of trouble. We didn't think he was dead."

During the arraignment, Mr. Fini wore a hospital garment and had visible injuries to his face and neck. He was shaking as he stood in front of Judge Mark E. Noonan and the charges were read against him. Members of Mr. Fini's family were in the courtroom; the victim's family was not there.

Mr. Fini was charged with motor vehicle homicide, drunken driving - second or subsequent offense, a marked lanes violation, speeding, and leaving the scene of a personal injury - death.

Assistant District Attorney Blake J. Rubin said Mr. Fini and Mr. Keogh were drinking at Christopher's Pub when they met a young woman there and decided to head to her house. They got into a 1995 Honda Acura, with Mr. Fini driving, the prosecutor said.

Mr. Rubin said a preliminary investigation showed the car was traveling over 70 mph in a 35 mph zone. Around the 300 block of Prospect Street, the car went out of control, hit a telephone pole and split into two pieces.

When police got there, they found no one in the vehicle. A search of the area turned up Mr. Fini. Mr. Rubin said police asked Mr. Fini twice if there was another person in the car and he denied it.

When they asked him a third time, he told them there had been another person. "Yes, my friend was with me," he said.

According to a police report, officers immediately started to search for the passenger. They discovered his body a short time later behind 303 Prospect St.

Mr. Rubin said it appeared that Mr. Fini had dragged Mr. Keogh to the place his body was found, because there was a trail of blood from the body to the front of the vehicle, approximately 50 to 100 feet away.

During the arraignment, Mr. Rubin noted Mr. Fini had a criminal history, including a drunken driving charge that had been continued without a finding.

Timothy W. Murphy, who is representing Mr. Fini, said his client and Mr. Keogh had been friends for many years and were at the Patriots-Jets game Thursday with their fathers. Mr. Fini is a 2006 graduate of Leominster High School.

Mr. Murphy said Mr. Fini had many ties to the area and he argued for a lower bail of $10,000 cash, as well as conditions of release that would include electronic monitoring. That request was denied.

After the arraignment, Mr. Murphy said Mr. Fini "was devastated by the events."

Members of Mr. Keogh's family were devastated as well yesterday afternoon.

"You'll have to forgive us, because we haven't slept," Ms. Paquette said. A photograph of her son was on the wall behind her right shoulder.

Holding another photograph of her son, she spoke about his love of sports, his love for his family and his love of life. He was most recently a cook at the Blue Marlin, but the restaurant recently closed for renovations. The job at the Blue Marlin was one that Mr. Fini had arranged for Mr. Keogh.

She said the family had learned about the details of the crash. "Why did he do it? He dragged my son like a piece of trash. Why? Why?" she said.

"I still have his baby teeth. Can you believe that?" Ms. Paquette said, pointing to a small ceramic jar in the shape of a shoe.

A plaque she received on the day he was born reads, "God gave you the best he had."

"This was always in his room," she said.

"Here are the basketballs that he used when he went to play at the Baptist church league. Here's his snowboard. They're all here, but he's not," she said. "Why did this happen?"

A wake will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Richardson Funeral Home, 106 West St., with a service to be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Pilgrim Congregational Church, 26 West St.

http://www.telegram.com/article/20081119/NEWS/811190607/1116
 

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Maddy B's grammy
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That has just got to be a parents worst nightmare. I'm glad the police were deligent enought to keep asking if there was another person in the vehicle. I hope they prosecute this bastard to the full extent of the law.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Questions arise about pub's role in aftermath of fatal crash

License Commission process

By Anna L. Griffin TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
[email protected]

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LEOMINSTER- Allegations that an underage man was served alcohol and then drove drunk, resulting in a fatal accident that killed his best friend, have prompted many to question what action, if any, will be taken against the bar.

The one-car crash occurred about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday in the area of 303 Prospect St., when a Honda Acura allegedly driven by Nathan Richard Fini, 20, 10 Marjorie St., left the road and crashed into a utility poll. His passenger, Kenneth Keogh, 20, 14 Cottage St., was killed.

Mr. Fini has been charged with motor vehicle homicide and drunken driving - second or subsequent offense, among other charges, and is being held on $15,000 cash bail, or $150,000 with surety.

Police reports indicate the men were drinking at Christopher's Pub, 7 Pleasant St., before the crash. According to records at the city License Commission, the license for the pub is held by Lindsey-Corliss Inc., doing business as Christopher's Pub. The manager is listed as Betty Lindsey.

A call seeking comment from Ms. Lindsey was not returned as of last night.

License Commission Chairman Paul LeBlanc had no comment on the matter yesterday. The commission to meet Monday, and its agenda had been set before the fatal crash.

In keeping with past practice, the License Commission will ask for police reports about the incident and then ask the holder of the license to come in for a meeting. Police officers involved in the investigation may also be asked to attend to answer questions from commissioners.

After all of the information is presented, commissioners will then decide what action, if any, should be taken, against the bar.

Other city officials declined to comment on the specifics of this case, noting nothing has been proven thus far regarding the allegations of drunken driving and serving underage patrons.

However, they had much to say about drunken driving and the city's practice with regard to licensing establishments that serve alcohol.

"This is a societal problem," said City Council President Richard M. Marchand, who is also a health educator in the Shrewsbury public school system. Mr. Marchand said he had students in one of his classes read accounts of the crash and then led a discussion of the topic.

"You have young people who make bad decisions," Mr. Marchand said. "Parents need to not only educate their children, but to set an example for their children as well."

Earlier this year, Mr. Marchand led an effort to set standards on establishments in the city that have a policy of "bring your own bottle."

"My concern was, who was serving alcohol and who was drinking alcohol, and how all of that was being controlled in these places," Mr. Marchand said. That policy should be formalized by the end of this year.

Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella said the city has made great strides in the past 10 years in granting liquor licenses: "It used to be the majority of licenses were held by places that only served alcohol. Now, it's places that serve both alcohol and food. There are just fewer problems with a place that serves both alcohol and food."

Several incidents this year resulted in police being sent to local bars, including one incident at Christopher's Pub.

In March, the pub was at the center of an investigation involving a local lawyer, Vincent J. CampoBasso, who had been drinking at the bar and later was accused of drunken driving and leaving the scene of a property damage accident. Mr. CampoBasso was found not guilty during a bench trial last month.

The bar's owners were called in before the License Commission in April. Commissioners questioned whether the bartender acted properly in serving Mr. CampoBasso. Nothing was found and no action was taken.

Last month, the License Commission placed Hot Shotz bar, 1293 Main St., on probation for six months in light of an altercation in May in which three men were injured with stab wounds.

The commissioners' 2-1 vote is up for reconsideration Monday night because of a procedural issue.

Also on the agenda for Monday night is an informational session with the owners of Scoreboard's Sports Bar & Grill, 137 Lancaster St., regarding an alleged drug deal Aug. 22 in the bar's parking lot.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the T.A. Conference Room, second floor, City Hall, 25 West St.

http://www.telegram.com/article/20081120/NEWS/811200695/1101
 
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