A murdered cop, a judge’s daughter and a felon with 84 convictions on his record


This story was submitted by a guest writer and author, Dave McGrath. It includes editorial content which is the opinion of the writer.

Author’s Note

I have thought about this story for 6 years. It has kept me up at night, mystified me and made me downright angry. The corruption. The incompetence. The lies.

The story was first reported by the only real Journalist left in the state of Massachusetts.

This is not me breaking any news, it’s a rehash as I understand it, after 6 years of research- reading every court doc, talking to folks on the ground, it still feels like a ”local” story to me. I hope to bring more light to it all these years later.

The news came and went quickly after Auburn Massachusetts Police officer Ron Tarantino was gunned down. That angered me as well. I hope I can keep his memory alive by retelling one of the most bizarre, and frankly, sad stories in the history of the commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Part 1 of a 2 Part Series

The Criminal and the Judge’s Daughter

Prison’s date back to 1500’s England. The early colonizers thought people committed crimes because they were possessed by evil spirits. The early prisons were constructed almost like dungeons.

Prisoners ate and lived alone behind high mud walls. The first idea behind prisons was that the criminal was possessed by some sort of demon, therefore incarceration was necessary so they could not infect the rest of the world.

Whatever you think of mass incarceration, prisons were meant for people who cannot function in a polite society. Rapists, murderers, pedophiles- criminals who commit these crimes should not be awarded 5, 6, or I don’t know ..eighty-four chances. These types of criminals do not reform.

Massachusetts Judge Andrew Mandell talked tough, almost like a lecturing parent. The Judge had seen this movie before. He knew all the characters, subplots, bit players and extras. He also should have known that the man in front of him, 35 year-old Jorge Zambrano of Worcester, Ma was on a collision course. Mandell called Zambrano ”troubling.”

The last question the judge asked about him was:

”He seems to have no respect for authority, in fact it’s exactly the opposite” and ”How many times is it going to take here? ”

It was a legitimate question. Zambrano had 84 criminal cases on the docket, from assault on Police Officers, cocaine trafficking and domestic violence. Zambrano did 3 years of a 7- year sentence for trafficking drugs from 2004-2007. The convicted felon had major disdain for authority. Zambrano was in Clinton District Court that morning, just 1 month after assaulting a Police Officer.

And 3 months before he would murder one.

Judge Mandell opted to put Zambrano back on the streets after a careful review of his criminal history- setting bail at just $500 cash and $5,000 surety. Zambrano was back on the streets of Worcester with his pit-bull and girlfriend, Heather Phillip, in just hours. The powder keg had been lit.

A murdered cop, a judge's daughter and a felon with 84 convictions on his record
Jorge Zambrano. CBS Boston YouTube channel.

Ron Tarantino- Law Enforcement Officer

Ron Tarantino was a pretty good Basketball player. He stood 6’4 and was the co-captain of his high school Basketball team at Tewksbury Memorial High before graduating in 1991. Tarantino’s Dad was a cop, serving 42 years. Young Ron’s only childhood ambition was to serve in uniform like his Dad.

Tarantino got his wish. He graduated from the full-time academy and was voted Squad Leader by his peers in the Boylston Academy in 2008. Before hitting the streets in Leicester, Ma (later transferring to Auburn, Ma.) Tarantino had married his college sweetheart Trish.

The couple had a great relationship, always smiling and teasing each other- the two seemed made for one another. The couple raised 3 boys together with one an Infantryman in the Army at Fort Benning, GA.

“To sum it all up, it is a longtime dream come true for me. I’m where I want to be…” —Excerpt from Ron’s letter to the Director of the Boylston Police Academy, about fulfilling his dream to be a police officer

Jorge Zambrano, even in a relaxed setting was almost always tense. I’m told by those who knew him that he was always paranoid and thought the cops were following him. The last time my source saw Zambrano, about a month before Officer Ron Tarantino pulled him over, Zambrano had a Glock pistol in a holster on his hip and a backpack full of bullets.

Zambrano was always on-edge and always prepared for war. The overriding question I have had since the shooting in 2016 is:

“How was Jorge Zambrano, a ticking time bomb, who had threatened, punched, and kicked police officers allowed to be out on the street?”

Prisons were seemingly built for guys like Zambrano, but even after 84 cases he was still walking the streets.

A murdered cop, a judge's daughter and a felon with 84 convictions on his record

A Key Piece: Ashley Losapio

The story, which would probably be rejected as too far-fetched for Hollywood screenwriters, is deeply troubling. It exposes corruption, favoritism and just outright incompetence. The story really unfurls with two individuals who were not present for the shooting. Ashley Losapio and Giancarlo Zambrano.

The latter is the brother of Jorge Zambrano. Losapio, the step daughter of Uxbridge District Court Judge Paul Losapio, was a Worcester Superior Court Judge at the time.  Ashley Losapio was appointed as an associate probation officer on July 24, 2006 with a starting salary of 33,017.00.

Losapio was also the girlfriend of the alleged cop killer’s brother: Giancarlo Zambrano.

Losapio, the stepdaughter of the judge, has some skeletons in her closet. She went by the street name ”Shorty” and had a reputation in Worcester for fraternizing with known criminals. It was confirmed in interviews with the Worcester Police that Losapio was known to associate with criminals under investigation by the Worcester PD and the DEA operating in western Massachusetts.

Worcester Police intercepted wiretaps where a known criminal saw ”Shorty” while in court. She gave the criminal the signal that everything will be alright.  In another intercepted correspondence, a known criminal on a court ordered wiretap was overheard saying “We got useful information from Ashley L”.

Losapio also had the phone numbers of known criminals saved in her cell phone. One can venture to guess that Losapio was privy to all court proceedings being there every day. And with such an expansive list of criminals in her cell phone, it’s not a stretch to think she was communicating sensitive information right to them.

The Worcester Police had their suspicions as well.

Detectives in the Department knew she was working with the criminals, an inside man if you will. Using her position to feed information about informants, who was in court on what day so witnesses could be intimidated. The stepdaughter of a superior court judge, who was also a probation officer, was well known for giving inside information on witnesses to violent felons, and no action of any real consequence was taken.

It was known to be an open secret within the department that a Probation Officer and a daughter of a Judge in Superior Court was a breadth of information for local criminals. The Worcester Police had an expansive file on her. So much so that Worcester Police wrote to Chief Probation Officer for Worcester Superior Court, Thomas Turco.

On April 4, 2008 Worcester Police met with Turco and explained that Losapio associates were violent criminals with access to a lot of weaponry. If the information Losapio was so freewheeling with got into the wrong hands, a lot of people could be hurt. Of course this meeting did not result in a suspension for Losapio, but it did result in an in-person interview with the Worcester Police. She admitted to investigators that she fraternized with known criminals, accessed work databases to find information on criminal histories outside her scope of work.

But she reasoned “it was all public information, anyway.”

A murdered cop, a judge's daughter and a felon with 84 convictions on his record
The scene of the crime where the officer was murdered. Screenshot of CBS Boston YouTube channel.

Corrective Action

On April 9, 2006 Losapio was informed by letter that:

“Based upon preliminary information you are excluded from courtroom work and are instructed to perform limited office duties within the probation office. In addition, your Court Activity Record Information (CARI) password will be suspended, pending the outcome of this investigation.” 

On April 16, 2008, she was informed of her transfer to Westborough District Court, on May 27, 2008. She was also made aware of the following discipline: One- week suspension without pay, one- week’s suspension to be taken out of her earned time, and a permanent assignment to Westborough District Court. The investigators noted that Losapio took ”full responsibility”, ”seemed contrite” and had no other disciplinary issues on her record.

The Worcester Police Department, very weary of Losapio, never heard back from the Trial Court on the outcome of the Losapio investigation. After the punishment was doled out, Worcester Police provided Facebook screenshots of Losapio in the company of known criminals even after being slapped on the wrist. Chris Bulger, counsel for the trial court testified that the punishment for Losapio was warranted considering the crime.

Losapio, the stepdaughter of a judge who accessed work databases to knowingly feed information to her criminal friends got a two -week paid vacation and a permanent change of station. Worcester Police continued to inquire about the punishment and the subsequent reassignment of Losapio. They were advised that, due to her being a union employee, their hands were basically tied and firing Losapio might be tough to do, considering the evidence.

Unanswered Questions

How could a person who Worcester Police said “is not suitable to serve the community” stay on the job? Not only stay on the job, but get an easier posting, and a raise as a result of a criminal investigation.

It goes to show in Massachusetts, following the law is not of the most importance for the politically-connected like Ashley Losapio. All that matters is who you know or who your stepfather is.

How does all of this tie into a murder of a Police Officer almost 8 years later? It speaks to the lenient, pro-criminal Massachusetts justice system. A quick Google search of Judge Losapio rulings while on the bench at Worcester Superior court will tell the story.

A murdered cop, a judge's daughter and a felon with 84 convictions on his record
Zambrano’s probation log.

I don’t hate my readers enough to rehash every one of them, but leniency was the norm in Losapio courtroom. Judge Andrew Mandell also occupied a courtroom in Worcester Superior Court and was a colleague of Losapio. The same Mandell who was the last Judge Jorge Zambrano saw before murdering Ron Tarantino, surely Mandell knew that he was looking at the brother of his his former colleague’’ boyfriend. Surely Mandell could adjust his glasses and look down at the 84 criminal offenses on his rap sheet.

You know the one where he let his Pit Bull loose on the State Police? How about the violent confrontation with Mass State Trooper Ray Burton?

Ray Burton wrote in his report that Zambrano was “dangerous” and that Zambrano stated while cuffed:

“Let me go, I will take care of you!”

A Missed Opportunity

I’m going to guess Mandell had access to the reports that Zambrano had missed 4 drug tests that he was court ordered to take as part of his probation. Mandell had to have known that Zambrano had mentioned to his probation officer that he was ‘‘struggling’’ to do the right thing. Zambrano had tested positive for cocaine, and admitted to drinking- both clear violations of the terms of his probation. Even after the prosecutor asked to revoke bail and lock Zambrano up, Mandell set the bail at just $500 cash. It took Zambrano three hours to make bail.

All of this led up to May 22nd, 2016. The broken criminal justice system in Massachusetts. The favoritism inside the judicial system that allowed Ashley Losapio, the stepdaughter of a judge and girlfriend of a would-be cop killer’s brother, to remain on the job. This after it had come to light she moonlights with the very people she had sworn to keep in line and the community safe from.

Stay Tuned for Part 2: The Traffic Stop… and the SWAT Team

Follow this writer, Dave McGrath on Substack. Check out Dave’s book at Barnes & Noble.

Our other story: Have you heard about the Spec Ops team going for a world record to raise money for the families of fallen officers? 

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A murdered cop, a judge's daughter and a felon with 84 convictions on his record


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