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Mother of deceased drug informant Eric Sinacori files civil lawsuit against UMass for alleged breach of conduct

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Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

The mother of Eric Sinacori, a University of Massachusetts student who died of a heroin overdose three years ago, filed a civil lawsuit against the University for an alleged breach of conduct.

Francesca Sinacori, of Whitehouse Station, N.J., is seeking $5 million from UMass, alleging that the police program which used her son as a confidential informant violated her right to be informed about her son’s disciplinary record and drug use, according to a MassLive article.

The lawsuit also seeks $1 million from Jesse Carillo, a 27-year old graduate student charged of distributing heroin and involuntary manslaughter, for “willful, wanton or reckless conduct” which led to Eric Sinacori’s death. A police officer identified as “John Doe” is also listed as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Eric Sinacori was arrested after selling LSD and MDMA to an undercover police officer. The University of Massachusetts Police Department later recovered a hypodermic needle from his room.

The breach of conduct alleged by Francesca Sinacori refers to, according to MassLive, the UMass Student Code of Conduct, which stated that violations of UMass alcohol and drug policies by a student under the age of 21 would result in a notification of the student’s legal guardians.

However, Sinacori’s involvement in the UMPD’s confidential informant program prevented his parents from being notified of his record, keeping them in the dark.

The complaint against the University says that UMPD were not trained to recognize drug addicts and did not make an effort to help Sinacori, according to Masslive.

The complaint also alleged that the actions of UMPD put Sinacori at further risk, by immediately arresting a drug dealer after Sinacori had bought drugs from him. The complaint said this made it clear to people in the “UMass drug scene” that Sinacori was cooperating with law enforcement, according to Masslive.

The complaint also says that an undercover police officer returned $700 to Sinacori after confiscating it from his room during his initial arrest, and alleged that Sinacori used the money to buy drugs.

UMass Executive Director of Strategic Communications Ed Blaguszewski said UMass does not comment on pending legal matters and that the confidential informant program was suspended by the University after learning about Sinacori’s involvement.

“Subsquently, the University permanently ended the confidential informant program in January 2015, following a comprehensive, three-month review by an 11-member campus working group,” he added.

While the UMPD had previously referred to the confidential informant program as a “core component” of their drug enforcement strategy, the ending of the confidential informant program appears to have had little impact on drug arrests at UMass, which did not see an uptick in drug arrests after that point.

Francesca Sinacori is being legally represented by Northampton attorneys David Hoose and Luke Ryan.

Stuart Foster can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @Stuart_C_Foster.

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Mother of deceased drug informant Eric Sinacori files civil lawsuit against UMass for alleged breach of conduct”

  1. Mary Serreze on November 3rd, 2016 9:36 am

    That would be “breach of contract.”

  2. Ed Cutting, EdD on November 3rd, 2016 1:40 pm

    The interesting thing here is if Hoose & Ryan find out about the Assessment Care Team (ACT), as there are issues of breach of contract far beyond just the CSC stuff they currently are suing over.
    .
    ACT is the super-secret group that includes UMPD, CCPH, UHS, Res Life & Dean of Students. ACT would have known (or should have known) about Sinacori when he was arrested, it definitely did when he did the UMPD buy because that dealer was immediately expelled — which only Student Affairs can do, the police can’t.
    .
    The university’s Alcohol/Drug Abuse Specialist is a member of ACT, as are two licensed psychologists — three medical professionals arguably with a legal duty to Sinacori. A whole (secret) bureaucracy with the stated purpose of helping students such as Sinaciri, and didn’t. Enku Gelaye herself has a lot to answer for as she (and Dr. Harry Rockland Miller of CCPH) were the Co-Chairs of ACT at the time.
    .
    Furthermore, there is no way that the UMPD could have had the program they did without high-level Student Affairs knowing about it because they would need things from Student Affairs. They would need the ability to make CSC charges disappear, quietly obtaining keys to the dorm rooms they want to search, etc. (There is no way the UMPD can search a dorm room without Res Life knowing because they have to either get a key or kick the door open.)

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