Karen Read wants phone records released, says they support cover-up

Posted at 7:13 PM, March 20, 2024

Karen Read returned to a Dedham, Massachusetts courtroom Wednesday to demand the release of phone records belonging to people she claims were part of an alleged cover-up to protect those responsible for boyfriend’s death.

karen read appears in court

Karen Read, accused in the death of police officer John O’Keefe, appears in court Friday, Jan. 15. 2024. (Court TV)

Read denies allegations that she backed her car into Boston Police Officer John O’Keefe in a drunken rage and left him for dead in a January 2022 blizzard. She blames his death on Boston Police officer Brian Albert, who invited Read and O’Keefe to his house after the bars closed in downtown Canton. Witnesses at the afterparty claim the couple never made it inside. Read claims she left O’Keefe outside the home and never heard from him again.

Read’s lawyers claim Brian Albert used close personal law enforcement connections to orchestrate a cover up and frame Read.

Brian Albert was one of the subjects of Read’s latest request for phone records. It wasn’t the first time Read tried to convince the judge in her case to order the release of his records. But this time she included new people in her request, including Brian Albert’s brother, Kevin Albert, a Canton Police officer; former Canton Police Chief Kenneth Berkowitz, and Brian Higgins, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms who was with the group on the night in question.

Lawyers for the men appeared in court to state their positions on the request. They also used their time in court to confirm that their clients are not targets of an ongoing federal investigation of the investigation.

Brian Albert’s lawyer, Greg Henning, said Albert did not object to the release of his phone records because he has nothing to hide. Higgins’ lawyer fired back with a forceful condemnation of the allegations.

“Brian Higgins has not participated in a coverup or conspiracy. He’s spent his life saving lives,” lawyer Willian Connolly said. “Participating in a coverup is contrary to who he is as a human being and professional… At my urging, he will not capitulate and stand down when further efforts are made to invade his privacy. Thats why we oppose the motions not because he’s done anything wrong.”

Kevin Albert’s lawyer described him as a respected 19.5-year veteran of the Canton Police Department. “Any insinuation that he participated in a conspiracy is untrue.”

Karen Read and David Yannetti appear in court

Karen Read, accused in the death of police officer John O’Keefe, appears in court Friday, Jan. 15. 2024, next to her attorney David Yannetti. (Court TV)

Read’s lawyer, David Yannetti, based his arguments on information that emerged from the recent release of federal grand jury testimony in a probe of the state investigation. “Without the federal investigation we never would have known about this but now we do. Why doesn’t the Commonwealth want to know this?” Yannetti said. “The records are relevant because they show a cover-up.”

Yannetti said Higgins initially denied talking to anyone after he left the party. But the federal probe revealed Brian Albert called him after 2 a.m. and Higgins called him back. Both men said the calls were “butt dials” even though they also said they were in their bed when the calls were placed, Yannetti said.

Summarizing the grand jury testimony, Yannetti said Higgins testified that Kevin Albert contacted him after Brian Albert got a federal grand jury subpoena. Higgins had stopped returning Brian Albert’s calls and texts, and Kevin Albert told him he didn’t understand why, according to Yannetti. “There’s only one way to interpret that: Brian Albert was concerned Brian Higgins had flipped on him.”

As for former Canton Police chief Kenneth Berkowitz, Yannetti said he spoke on the phone with Brian Albert and Brian Higgins the day O’Keefe’s body was found. Days later, Yannetti said Berkowitz called Brian Higgins to tell him he found a piece of red plastic resembling Read’s tail light outside the house – after Massachusetts State Police had taken over the case due to Canton Police Department’s conflicts of interest with Brian Albert.

“These records show suspicious contact between parties we allege to be in a conspiracy. They show the Canton chief inserting himself into a case after he conflicted himself out.”

The Commonwealth objected to releasing the records. Norfolk Assistant District Attorney Adam Lally called the request an overly broad fishing expedition that relied on hyperbole and misstatements of fact as its basis.

Another defense motion sought the release of unspecified internal affairs records concerning the lead investigator, Massachusetts State Trooper Michael Proctor. It was rendered moot because Proctor and the Commonwealth agreed to their release.

Judge Beverly Cannone reserved ruling on the motions. The next hearing on all non-evidentiary pretrial motions is scheduled for Tuesday, March 26 at 9 a.m.