How Did Tony Braz Drug Charges Stay Under Public Radar? [OPINION]
The charges brought forth by New Bedford narcotics detectives against New Bedford's former school department maintenance supervisor, Tony Braz (now retired), has shocked the city. What is equally concerning are the facts surrounding the event.
Braz's home was raided on January 2nd of this year. News of this raid by detectives, armed with a warrant, only reached the media 76 days, or 11 weeks, later. And the information was revealed by a private citizen, not through official channels.
As Evangelos "Gilly" Safioleas explained on my radio program this past Saturday, on March 19 it was he who contacted the local media inquiring why this news wasn't a story for the public to consume.
The only reason? The media had no idea there even was a story.
Gilly has been a long-time caller to WBSM, has raised numerous controversies, pestered the hosts with trivial nonsense from time to time, and has been an open adversary to Tony Braz, for years calling him a thief and a criminal. He has not, however, been known to lie.
Curt Brown of the Standard-Times was finally able to corroborate the story and publish an article on March 22.
Safioleas has since elaborated on the night Braz was arrested, insisting that, while it is true Mr. Braz was (somehow) not arrested, he was taken from his home for approximately an hour when he returned.
So many questions. Why was this not brought to our attention? This is a big deal for the City.
How is it even remotely possible that Braz was not arrested and booked? If he was taken away by police, where did they take him for an hour and why isn't that in the report? How is it that his arrest was not met with a press release from the police department, touting such a large bust, as they have with other similar raids?
Police confiscated 389 oxycodone pills, more than $38,000 in cash, 74 alprazolam tablets and a bag of cocaine was also found on a 31-year-old city woman also present during the raid at Braz's home at 45 Pamela Drive.
That's a pretty sizable bust.
So why the big secret, New Bedford? Why was this suppressed, covered-up, hidden—use whichever vernacular you want—but, bottom line, kept from the public? Officials know damn well this is a story deserving of the taxpayers' and all citizens' attention, and one that would otherwise be a trophy to display, were it not for the ties that Braz has to the City municipal government.
Braz was a one-time small campaign donor to Mayor Mitchell, giving a paltry $10 to his mayoral campaign fund in 2011, so that cannot explain it.
Does Braz have some condemning information that he is holding over the collective head of the City, as Saffiolis has insisted? Can't dismiss it, because guess what, Gilly is the only one being honest about what transpired, from what I can see.
The pattern of irresponsible cover-ups and denials is a problem in New Bedford. It needs to be fixed.
Ken Pittman is the host of The Ken Pittman Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Contact him at ken.pittman@