FALL RIVER — Two New Bedford men were sentenced to state prison and a third is awaiting sentencing, after they were convicted of intimidating witnesses in an upcoming murder trial, the DA's office said.
John DeBurgo, 25, was sentenced to 3 to 5 years and David Pellot, 20, received a 2 to 4 year sentence, followed by three years of supervised probation, according to Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III.
DeShaun Hunt, 22, is being held without bail and will be sentenced March 2 in Superior Court, he said.
The three attempted to intimidate two witnesses in a murder trial and other members of their family in an incident about 12:40 p.m. March 2 in front of the witnesses' home on Thompson Street in New Bedford, he said.
The victims are witnesses in the prosecution of Michael Sousa and Darian Cardosa, who are charged with the 2015 murder of Jeffrey Sylvia Jr. in New Bedford, he said.
The incident began when the defendants and others walked up to the front of the home and DeBurgo called one of the witnesses a “rat,” Miliote said. The group then walked east on Thompson Street and began confronting the other victim and her father in the middle of the street, telling them to have the “rat” come outside. The female witness/victim and her father were then joined by the male witness/victim, his mother and his older brother.
Pellot waved a knife in the faces of the group of witnesses and victims and each of them backed away in fear, he said. DeBurgo is seen on surveillance video clapping and egging Pellot on.
As the victims ran into the house, shots were fired from the street and one of them struck the concrete foundation, causing a fragment to chip off and strike one of the victims, he said. One of the victims, believing his family member had been shot, exited the home to confront the defendants and was shot at by Hunt.
All three men were convicted on separate intimidation and assault charges last week in Superior Court, after an 8-day trial, he said.
DeBurgo was convicted of intimidation of a witness threats; Pellot was convicted of intimidation of a witness threats and three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon; and Hunt was convicted of intimidation of a witness threats, possession of an illegal firearm and possession of an illegal loaded firearm, according to Miliote.
During a sentencing hearing last Friday before Judge Thomas McGuire, prosecutor Dennis Collins argued for a 7 to 10-year state prison term for DeBurgo and a 5 to 7-year state prison sentence for Pellot, he said. Their defense attorneys recommended a four-year probationary term for DeBurgo and a one-year state prison term for Pellot.
“The conduct of the defendants, intimidating witnesses in a murder case strikes at the heart of the criminal justice system," said DA Quinn. "These cases are already difficult to prosecute without a group of thugs try to undermine the prosecution through intimidation.
“Marching down to the victims’ home in broad daylight with knives and guns, and assaulting the victims resembles violence associated with the ‘Wild West’ and cannot be tolerated,” he said.