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DA uses confiscated money to help community

Date: 4/5/2013

By G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD — Hampden County District Attorney Mark Mastroianni is taking a negative and turning it into a positive.

That how Kirk Smith, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Springfield, sees the donation Mastroianni made of $8,500 to the youth boxing program the YMCA operates at the Dunbar YMCA Family & Community Center.

Mastroianni has started a new program that will take the cash and the money raised from the sale of assets seized as part of a criminal conviction for drug offenses to support activities that make neighborhoods safer.

The district attorney said he was "incredibly impressive" by the boxing program organized and coached by Springfield Police Lt. Rupert Daniel.

Daniel told Reminder Publications the program was started in February 2012. He explained he "came to them [the YMCA] with the idea and they supported me."

A 27-year veteran of the police, Daniel said more adults in the city should become involved in programs that help the youth. He explained the program teaches the 20 students the fundamentals of the sport.

The team has already had one success with Alfredo Vellon winning the "Silver Mittens" championship recently in Lowell.

When asked about the boxing program Vellon succinctly said, "I think it's cool."

Daniel is no stranger to boxing. He fought as both an amateur and as a professional and was a member of the U.S. kickboxing team.

The donation, he said, will go toward uniforms for the boxing team and expenses associated with competing in tournaments.

"This program does very important work by offering young people the opportunity to focus on achieving positive goals in their lives. It works directly to keep kids away from drugs and other negative influences, which would be harmful to them personally and to their community. Using money seized from drug forfeitures to produce a positive result for both individuals and their communities is the purpose of our office's donation effort," Mastroianni said.