In The Line Of Fire

I knew Dominic Cinelli. You must have read his name at least a dozen times since Christmas weekend. He’s the guy who killed John “Jack” Macguire, a Woburn police officer, age 60, a good cop. I never thought I’d feel sorry for a police officer, but my heart goes out to Officer Macguire and his family.

Like I said, I knew Dominic Cinelli. He used to cut my hair while I was incarcerated in the Worcester House of Correction in 1982/83. I read about his furlough escape and the other escape, after he was given another life sentence. He made a fake gun out of cardboard and took the officer’s real gun, ran out of the hospital, (he complained of chest pains after he was sentenced) and jacked a car, leg chains on and all.

About ten days later they found him drinking coffee in between heists. Let’s see, he stabbed a guy in the chest as a teenager, shot a security guard in the chest while he was out on furlough, took a hostage once during a robbery, was serving three life sentences, that’s three life sentences, and he still made parole!

Who was paying attention to reality here? Now, the shame of it all is that other guys serving time who are up for parole and deserve a chance, will be denied it because of the Cinelli backlash that is taking place. I already read, in the Boston Herald, that the system yanked back seven “killers” who were doing work release and living without trouble in pre-release centers — yanked them right back into “higher custody without prejudice”, and I quote the DOC spokeswoman Diane Wiffin.

Dominic wasn’t in those pre-release centers, to my knowledge, he just went out from “higher custody” to the streets. Like I said, I knew Dominic Cinelli, and I
knew that, like me back then, he wanted to get out and shoot some dope.

The difference between us was that I was non-violent and had no desire to carry a gun. The only thing I wanted to shoot was myself, with a needle and syringe. I had a girlfriend once who was always trying to talk me into doing armed robberies whenever things got financially tight. They always do from time to time, when you are shooting heroin.

I told her that if she wanted someone who did armed robberies, she’d better find herself another dope fiend who would do that. And she did. My heart was broken for a while, but I felt that I was far better off, and besides, I had my main squeeze. They used to call it the “boy” when I was shooting — heroin beat any girl I ever had back in
the day.

Like I said before, Dominic Cinelli used to cut my hair in prison. Actually, he cut every inmate’s hair that wanted a good haircut. Dominic was a great barber. He could have made a good living cutting and styling hair if he had chosen to do that. He had a gift for it.

Unfortunately, heroin took away his gift. That’s what heroin does. It brings out the worst in us. Dominic had violent tendencies. The heroin didn’t put those tendencies there, but he used those tendencies to get money to get heroin.

Most heroin addicts are not violent. Some deal to get their drugs, some shop-lift, some burglarize houses or stores. Some heroin addicts become armed robbers. Unfortunately, if you carry a gun and choose to point it at someone, eventually you will pull the trigger. Especially if you are emotionally unstable.

Dominic Cinelli was emotionally unstable and had a hunger for heroin, and, as he described it in his parole hearing,“there’s an ugliness in me that I have to control.” Right after Christmas that ugliness reared it’s head and Dominic Cinelli, during a jewelry store robbery, engaged in a shoot-out with a police officer who had never before pulled his gun in the line of duty.

They both died. The day after Christmas, John “Jack” Maguire, doing his work just as he always did, was shot to death by a man who didn’t value life. An entire family was faced with a terrible loss and a good man was sent to his death because he was dedicated to his job.

Unfortunately, many convicts who have reformed and deserve parole may not get parole because of the act of a convict who didn’t value anyone’s life, not even his own. When a stone is thrown into a placid pond, the ripples roll out and the whole ecosystem is affected.

Dominic Cinelli, out on parole, fired his gun in the commission of a crime and a family has suffered a great loss. John “Jack” Maguire’s wife and children have had their lives torn. An entire community is bereft.

Seven men, that we know of, have been taken from work release and halfway houses and sent back to prison. An entire Parole Board has their judgment in doubt. What good can come of this event? This I cannot say because the darkness is so overwhelming. It is time for cooler heads to prevail; a time to think and plan. What the Parole Board failed to consider was the continuous pattern of violence that ran through Dominic Cinelli’s life. This was not one isolated incident.

Let us learn from this terrible tragedy. It is time for parole boards to study patterns of action in the lives of the men and women that they must judge. It is a grave responsibility to decide the future of a person’s life. So much must be taken into consideration. No one can predict the future acts of any man or woman.

What can be done is to study the pattern of their lives and then, to make a learned decision based not just on one act, but to look at the life in it’s entirety and then choose. There are people in prison who, by their actions, have shown that it is time to let them go free.

At a time of tragedy, when emotions run hot, we cannot let ourselves lose sight of the larger picture. The Maguire family and the town of Woburn has suffered a grievous loss. We mourn and then, slowly, gently, we all gather ourselves to the best of our abilities and learn from this tragic event.

If someone, thirty years ago, had said that my heart would go out to a police officer, his family, and his fellow policemen, I could not have imagined it. But it has happened. My feelings about this, the fact that I mourn with the police, shows me how much I have changed. I know that, for others, there is the hope of recovery.

I only pray that, from this event, good decisions are made and the heat of the horror doesn’t char our hearts. Officer Maguire, I salute you.

Marc D. Goldfinger is a formerly homeless vendor who is now housed. He can be reached at junkietroll@yahoo.com

Marc D. Goldfinger is a member of the board of directors of the Homeless Empowerment Project, which publishes Spare Change news. Formerly homeless, he serves as the paper's poetry editor.

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