25 Investigates: Letters between feds, Norfolk DA released in Karen Read case

CANTON, Mass. — The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Massachusetts was still determining in August if charges were warranted in a federal investigation connected to the Karen Read murder case in Canton. That’s according to an August 3, 2023, letter the General Counsel for the Department of Justice sent to the Norfolk District Attorney’s office.

The letter denies a written request by Norfolk DA Michael Morrissey to have the federal investigation moved out of Massachusetts. The DOJ’s General Counsel wrote that acting U.S. Attorney for MA Josh Levy “has a very different opinion of the circumstances in this case than as presented in Mr. Morrissey’s letter… it is essential to continue their investigation given the information of which they are aware.”

The letters do not expressly reveal who the feds are investigating or why.

8 letters spanning 10 months of back and forth between the Norfolk DA’s Office and federal authorities were released to 25 Investigates Monday. Read’s lawyers have cited them in their motion to sanction and disqualify the DA’s office over claims of prosecutorial misconduct in her case.

Read is charged with 2nd-degree murder for the death of her Boston Police officer boyfriend John O’Keefe.

DA Morrissey’s office initially sought to block the release of the letters – but his office relented late last week.

DA Morrissey requested the federal investigation be transferred out of Massachusetts in a May 18, 2023 letter to the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

“Approximately three weeks ago, multiple state witnesses who have been brought before the state grand jury notified the Norfolk District Attorney’s office that they were contacted by the FBI and subsequently received subpoenas to appear before a federal grand jury,” reads Morrissey’s letter

The letter also reveals Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua Levy of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston told Norfolk County First Assistant District Attorney Lynn Beland that “they were conducting an investigation that may involve a number of witnesses in the Commonwealth v. Read murder case” sometime in late April or early May of last year.

Morrissey argued that the defense in the Read case would have a constitutional right to statements or testimony taken by federal investigators.

“Attorney Beland reminded AUSA Joshua Levy that any statements and or testimony taken in such an investigation that pertain to any of the witnesses in the ongoing state murder trial may create an ongoing obligation for state prosecutors to provide the defense with access to all information and statements gathered or recorded as a result of the federal investigation,” Morrissey wrote. “The United States Attorney’s office offered the opinion that ‘you can’t turn over information that you don’t have,” Morrissey added.

Boston 25 reached out to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for additional comment Monday evening.

In a June 1, 2023 letter, U.S. DOJ counsel Jeff Ragsdale said the office of professional responsibility has jurisdiction over allegations of misconduct by federal law enforcement – specifically in cases of allegations of attorney misconduct.

But Ragsdale said the office’s policy is to: “refrain from investigating such issues or allegations if an active investigation is ongoing or litigation is pending.”

Ragsdale noted that Morrissey had requested another office be assigned to the “pending grand jury investigation.”

Ragsdale said he forwarded that complaint to the DOJ’s Executive Office for United States Attorneys.

In a June 12, 2023 letter, acting U.S. Attorney Josh Levy said he had no issue with the Norfolk County DA’s office “advising defense counsel about the contact we have had with your office and the information we have shared.”

Then on June 21, 2023, a Norfolk County prosecutor asked about the status of Morrissey’s request for a transfer.

On August 3, 2023, the DOJ’s Executive Office for United States Attorneys General Counsel Jay Macklin responded that his office saw “no basis for a recusal in this investigation” and federal authorities have “not reached any official determination whether prosecution is warranted.”

On Oct. 12, 2023, the Norfolk DA’s office asked Levy’s office for statements to investigators and grand jury minutes of witnesses in their probe.

‘If any such information exists, it is imperative that we learn of it in a timely manner,” reads the Oct. 12 letter. “If the investigation remains ongoing, we request notice of that status...”

Norfolk County prosecutors said that they’re required to notify defendants of such information ahead of trial – which is set for March 12. There is no record of any federal response to that request.

On Nov. 22, 2023, Morrissey wrote a letter to the FBI saying he was renewing his offer for FBI agents to speak to state police involved in the O’Keefe murder investigation.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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