For the past two years, The Valley Patriot has been investigating a series of thefts of newspapers and newspaper boxes throughout the Merrimack Valley totaling an estimated loss of more than $2,200 just this year alone in stolen papers in Methuen, Lawrence and Salem NH.
Last month, former Windham State Representative, Attorney Anthony DiFruscia was caught red handed at the North End Deli on Common Street removing Valley Patriot newspapers from the rack and throwing them in the trash.
Greg Fratto of North End Deli, who also advertises in The Valley Patriot (see their ad on page 17) says he confronted DiFruscia when he saw the former State Representative come into his store, pick up a stack of about 30 newspaper and throw the papers in the trash.
“I confronted him,” Fratto says. “I asked him why he was throwing away the papers since they didn’t belong to him. He said ‘I hate that paper, I throw them out everywhere I go.’ I told him I advertise in that newspaper and this is my store, you don’t come in here and start stealing things that don’t belong to you. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.”
Fratto says the store has video of DiFruscia throwing the papers away and that his workers had caught DiFruscia on at least two previous occasions stealing Valley Patriot newspapers.
DiFruscia was also caught on camera last summer at Methuen Family Restaurant, just moments after the box was filled with 55 newspapers.
A member of DiFruscia’s family contacted The Valley Patriot in response to a Facebook posting on the matter, apologizing for DiFruscia’s behavior and offering to pay for the cost of the papers DiFruscia had stolen, if no police report was filed.
“I let it go because DiFruscia’s family seemed to be really affected by DiFruscia’s criminal behavior and didn’t want a story in the paper, so I told them that if they could assure it would never happen again, I would drop the whole matter,” said Tom Duggan, publisher and owner of The Valley Patriot.
“We let it go at Heav’nly Donuts, we let it go when he stole papers at Methuen Family Restaurant, we even looked the other way when we found out he was stealing papers from our news boxes in Salem, NH, but it’s apparent that this guy thinks that because of who he is … or who he was … that he can get away with theft and other people are going to sweep it under the rug for him. So, now we are filing a police report and demanding restitution,” Duggan added.
Even though the newspapers are free for distribution, under the law, anyone who removes free newspapers to discard is interfering with business practice and committing theft.
“He knows that too,” Duggan said.
“This guy is a lawyer, he knows the law, he is a former State Representative and he seems to think that he is above the law. Well, he’s not. We’ve also had a spate of newspaper boxes stolen in the last two years and we are investigating, as well as asking police to investigate, whether or not DiFruscia has anything to do with those thefts. I don’t know what DiFruscia’s problem is, but we are sure going to find out in court. In the meantime, if anyone sees this guy taking newspapers or removing news boxes, we are offering a $50 reward if you take his photo and send it to us. This is now a felony and we need our readers to keep an eye on this crook. For sure we will prosecute him for every single instance of theft we find.”
You can email your photos or any information about stolen papers or news boxes to firstname.lastname@example.org