Fall River Woman Involved in Incident Resulting in the Severing of Her Employee’s Finger Sentenced to Prison

Bristol County District Attorney’s Office

Thomas M. Quinn III

 District Attorney

Press Release

December 22, 2016

Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III announced today that a second defendant connected to a March 2012 incident in Fall River involving the severing of a man’s finger, has been sentenced to state prison.

Donna M. Silvia, 51, of Fall River, was convicted by a jury  earlier this month on charges of mayhem, intimidation of a witness, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon–causing substantial injury. The jury convicted the defendant in less than two hours, after a two day trial in Fall River Superior Court.

The case was prosecuted by Second Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Sowa. The defendant was ordered held in jail pending her sentencing hearing, which was held this morning before Judge E. Susan Garsh.

Judge Garsh today sentenced the defendant to serve eight to 10 years in state prison, to be followed by two years of supervised probation. She was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.

During the sentencing hearing, Second Assistant District Attorney Sowa argued that based on the egregious facts of the case and the 10-15 years state prison sentence received by Mrs. Silvia’s co-defendant, this defendant should serve a full 10 to 15 year prison term.  The defendant, through her attorney, requested a five to seven year prison sentence.

On March 28, 2012, the victim, an employee at Columbia Towing in Fall River, was confronted regarding money missing from the business. Despite the victim’s repeated denials that he had anything to do with the missing money, he was ordered by his employer, Donna Silvia, to sit in a hallway and write a confession about stealing the money.

After the victim refused to write out a confession, Mrs. Silvia’s co-defendant, 43-year-old John Soares, entered the business carrying a bag. Mr. Soares walked into the office, had a brief conversation with Donna Silvia, while her husband, 47-year-old Dennis Silvia, and another employee, 50-year-old James Connors, went into the garage and allegedly tipped surveillance cameras to face the ceiling.

Mr. Soares then exited the office, and told the victim that he needed to speak with him in the garage where the cameras had just been moved. Once inside the garage, Mr. Soares accused the victim of stealing money. After the victim once again denied taking any money, the Mr. Soares took a pair of pipe cutters out of his bag and cut off the defendant’s right pinky finger. He then exited the building, taking his cutting tools and the finger with him. The finger was never recovered.

After the incident, Mrs. Silvia approached the victim as he was leaving, and told him that he must say that the loss of his finger was an accident and that it did not happen at her place of business.

“This case represents a premeditated and barbaric act of violence that is simply not acceptable in a civilized society” District Attorney Quinn said.  “I would like to compliment the efforts of Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Sowa and defense counsel, Joseph Silvia, for their efforts in this case.  As Judge Garsh concluded, this case warranted a significant State Prison sentence.”

Two co-defendants in this case are all still awaiting trial or disposition. Dennis Silvia is charged with mayhem, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon-causing substantial injury and witness intimidation.  James Connors is charged with mayhem and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon-causing substantial injury.

John Soares was convicted of mayhem and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon-causing substantial injury in September and is currently serving a 10-15 year state prison sentence.


Gregg Miliote

Director of Communications