Updated Tuesday, 1/18

Video added: Town shuts down White Pines Motel

By Jaime Rebhan & Cyndi Murray | Jan 18, 2011
Photo by: Cyndi Murray A sign on the front door of the White Pines Motel indicates that it is closed.

The Town of Wareham has shut down the White Pines Motel on Cranberry Highway for lack of a valid motel license.

The motel was shut down on January 13, according to a Wareham Police press release. Board of Health records show that White Pines operator John D'Italia's motel license expired on December 21, 2010. (The White Pines property is owned by a trust, of which D'Italia's wife is a beneficiary.)

The White Pines has a long history of criminal activity, including distrubances, fights, and drug dealing, according to Wareham Police. The motel was the site of a double-stabbing last weekend, which resulted in the deaths of Wareham residents 35-year-old Leonard Bolia and 24-year-old Ryan Aponte. Richard Walling, 20, also of Wareham, was charged with manslaughter in the incident, and is held in lieu of $50,000 cash bail.

Town Administrator Mark Andrews said that a code-enforcement task force, chaired by Interim Police Chief Richard Stanley, has been in place for several months, and is charged with ensuring that Wareham businesses are in compliance with code requirements.

The White Pines may not be shut down for good. "They have every right to reapply" for a license, Andrews said.

However, the town Treasurer Collector's office shows that D'Italia is delinquent in tax payments, and owes the town more than $65,000, according to the press release. Town by-laws allow the licensing authority to deny a license to any party on the Treasurer Collector's delinquency list.

Additionally, Massachusetts General Law allows for a criminal penalty for motel owners who operate without a license, according to Wareham Police.

When presented with an order to cease operation, D'Italia told police that he wanted to contact his attorney. He returned two hours later, and was unable to produce any legally-binding documentation that would allow the White Pines Motel to remain open, according to police.

Wareham Police assisted the motel's guests with locating temporary housing in other local motels, and overnight accommodations in area churches, according to the press release.

Still, residents of the White Pines are worried about long-term housing. "I don't know what to do," said Gilbert Roger, who had been living at the motel for more than a year. "I'm stressed out."

Roger was collecting some of his belongs on January 14, something he claims he couldn't do when the motel was shut down the evening before. "We had to get out immediately, the police watched us leave," he said.

Contacted Tuesday, January 18, D'Italia said he and his family were trying to make the property better.

"We've put a ton of money into that place," said D'Italia, whose family purchased the property just over a year ago. "Our intentions were always to make it a nicer place."

D'Italia said he'd improved the facade, upgraded the heating system, painted, and taken out more than 20 dumpsters full of rubbish that came with the property. He had someone working on the roof last week before the motel was shut down, he said.

"We bought it to fix it up. It's been such an unsightly place for so many years," D'Italia said. "There's still a lot of work to be done."

D'Italia said he'd paid the town $5,000 toward his delinquent taxes on October 22. He added that he was not aware of and had received no notice that his motel license had expired until the town shut the property down.

As for the criminal activity at the property, D'Italia said he did his best to keep it out of the motel.

"We take copies of their [drivers'] license, we take their [license] plate numbers, we take whatever information we can get," D'Italia said. "But I can't ask these people, 'Do you sell drugs?' I can't frisk them."

After the motel was shut down, D'Italia took in two of its residents, including 64-year-old Ellen Robbins, who had no where else to go.

Robbins, who had been staying at the motel since last June, said she is on the waiting list for senior housing with the Wareham Housing Authority.

Had the D'Italias not taken her in, Robbins said she would have "lived in my car, probably." She added: "They've been sweethearts to me."

D'Italia said he is working with the town to determine the next steps for the property. We will update this story as more information becomes available.

Updated Video* White Pines Motel Closes
The White Pines Motel was shut down by the Town of Wareham on Jan.13, leaving residents on the street. (Video by: Cyndi Murray )
Comments (8)
Posted by: interestedparty | Jan 14, 2011 20:42

Great news.  And all done legally.  I have to congratulate Mr. Andrews for thinking ahead and forming the code enforcement task force to deal with these types of issues.

And, Chief Stanley should be acknowledged for the professional he is.  He could have allowed his past history with Mr. D'Italia to color his perspective.  (Remember the libelous, outright lie by D'Italia saying Stanley made a racist remark.)  But Chief Stanley took the high road.  He put his emotions aside and allowed the Town to follow the appropriate legal remedies to close down this motel.


When is Wareham going to hire Chief Stanley, full time?


Posted by: P-SPAN | Jan 14, 2011 23:58

Stanley isn’t exactly jumping at the chance to be our full time Chief. The decision is his, and all I hear from him are crickets. I don’t blame him either. Why not drag your feet when your taking home 98K/yr. being in Wareham one or two days a week..as well as another 135K for being North Andover’s full time Chief. If he’d “moved” on closing this place down just one week sooner, maybe a double homicide wouldn’t have happened. I’m not implying he committed this horrible crime (obviously)..but I sure am thinking he could have prevented it. There were enough “redflags”..and violations to have shut this place down already…He’s the one who said he “guaranteed” to clean these places up: 


from 10/20/09 Chief BoS presentation: 



"We're gonna take the lead, and we're gonna look at some of these places in town that need to be shut down...and you've got some. They need to be shut down. They need to be boarded up, and they need to be bulldozed. Because this is a beautiful community and you people don't deserve to have to look at some of that blight. There are ways to deal with it, and I guarantee ya we're gonna deal with it."


..as well as these strong comments he made concerning D’Italia:


from BoS 6/8/10:



"...and I will guarantee you one thing..Mr. D'Italia and anyone involved with Mr. D'Italia will be pursued vigorously by me..through the United States Justice Department..if I can get them involved in this..as well as through civil matters."


(IP, I fail to see the relevance of your attendance at this meeting. Did something occur that is not included in the video that would cause people to "not get" what the Chief said?)


Cleaning up a mess after it happens is one way to deal with things…preventing them from happening in the first place is a better one.

Posted by: interestedparty | Jan 15, 2011 01:46

P-Span, Not really sure why I said I attended the meeting but I do show an interest in what's going on in Wareham.  Other than that I don't understand what you are asking me in your second paragraph.  The Chief said in essence that he [would] pursue legal means to rectify the damage done to him by D'Italia and those who worked with D'Italia.


I am sure you are knowledgeable in matters concerning criminal actions.  If D'Italia violated the Chief's civil rights, then that matter would be addressed on the federal or state level.  On the other hand, Chief Stanley can sue and seek damages against DiItalia in civil court.  What more is there to say?  I was trying to make it clear that Stanley did not threaten retribution against D'Italia.  As a matter of fact, the opposite is true.  He held his emotions is check so the Town could take the necessary administrative actions which then allowed the police to close down the motel.


Correct me if I am wrong.


Are you saying Chief Stanley doesn't deserve the salary he is receiving?  Those redflags have been there since, when?  Since before Stanley came to work for the Town.  Talk about Monday Morning Quarterbacking.  Yeah, it would have been nice if it was closed sooner, but it wasn't.  Take pride in the fact that Wareham is moving to clean up these types of places.

Posted by: BayStateJoe | Jan 15, 2011 09:17

My family has a summer place in West Yarmouth and for years Yarmouth has had many problems with old motels along Rt 28 that were rented cheaply during the winter to people who could not afford anything better. They lived in these rooms with hotplates (that are a fire hazard). Many dealt drugs and gave the Yarmouth police a lot of business.  Yarmouth has a town ordinance that prohibits anyone from occupying a motel room for more than a 30 day period. Even with this ordinance in hand, Yarmouth has been struggling with this problem. To Yarmouth it has been important to stop motels from operating in a manner like the White Pines because such operations blight the main street through West Yarmouth and draw criminal elements.

Old Cranberry Highway in Wareham is sadly beset with far more blight than Rt 28 in West Yarmouth. I expect that property values in Wareham are adversely affected by the looks of Old Cranberry Highway. Some buildings along Old Cranberry Highway have been empty so long that they are structurally unsound to the point where the fire department will not enter them to fight a fire.

Are there people in Wareham interested in going beyond a Code Enforcement Task Force and forming an Old Cranberry Highway Improvement Task Force?

Posted by: frogsrule | Jan 15, 2011 13:04

I am Joe. It is extremely distressing to know that this establishment operated for 23 days without a license. I think task forces are great but in this instance proved that they are useless unless they are taking action.

Unfortunately the town has been unable to negotiate a contract to bring the Chief here full time, but we desperately need a full time Chief. A Chief who is here 1-2 days a week should not be chairing such an important task force.

Two people shouldn't have had to die to bring this to light. Such a shame. Many will say ultimately the town did the right thing. I agree. I just wish this town was more proactive and not reactive.


Posted by: thomascase | Jan 15, 2011 18:56

The Wareham Police should open up a sub station they spend enough time there

Posted by: involved101 | Jan 15, 2011 21:08

As usual Pspan is correct and did his homework unlike others who claim to. These comments were made as were many promises back in the 10-20-09 video. ( just watch the video at Pspans site)  it's ashame none of these issues were dealt with until we have a double murder and the heat is on. I have not seen one business closed down, boarded up or bulldozed. I cant remember the last time I read about a drug raid now that I think about it. The old group of detectives seemed much more active.  It has only been two years, it must still be Tommy Joyce's and George Bush's fault.





We will not stand for narcotic violations and everything they bring with them.  We will attack them vehemently both dealers and street level drug activity and we simple won’t allow it!





Posted by: Susan A Noonan | Jan 22, 2011 12:12

Cranberry Highway Improvement Task Force: solutions need to be proposed not more blah, blah, blah about the problems. Let's attract more businesses to the area. Deal with the problem of affordable housing in the area. Give tourists and residents alike a reason to get off the highway and take Cranberry Highway on their way to the Cape or their summer residences. Proactivity not inactivity.

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