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Charges filed in ’07 hit-and-run

Six years after a hit-and-run driver killed two pedestrians on Route 1 in Saugus, a grand jury has charged three people with conspiracy and misleading investigators in connection with the January 2007 accident.

Michael S. Tranchita Jr., 33, of Winchester, one of the three people indicted Friday in Essex County, is also­ charged with leaving the scene of a death.

His father, Michael S. Tranchita Sr., 55, also of Winchester, is charged with conspiracy, misleading a potential witness, and misleading an investigator. The third person — Lisa ­Cutting, 39, of Revere — is charged with conspiracy and misleading an investigator.

Tina Tello, 33, of Stoneham, a mother of two, died in the late-night accident.


Christopher Zullo, 28, of Everett, died two days later of injuries sustained in the accident.

The pair were attempting to cross busy Route 1 near Essex Street, in a spot that was not a designated pedestrian crossing.

“It’s about time,” said Jaime ­Goodrich, a sister of Christopher ­Zullo who was reached by phone Monday.

“It will be nice that these people are going to finally get what they ­deserve, and I hope they do get what they deserve. I think it’s pretty rotten that they ran for six years.”

She added, “We’ve waited a long time for this.”

A review of the younger Tranchita’s driving record, provided by the Registry of Motor Vehicles, shows he has been classified as a habitual traffic offender, with dozens of infractions, including more than a half­dozen stops for speeding, dating back 15 years.

In the days after the accident, State Police invesitigators appealed to the public for help in tracking down a 2003 or 2004 GMC truck with a cracked windshield and severe damage to its front end, including a missing headlight.

No court appearance has been scheduled for the three, and they are unlikely to be arraigned before next week, a spokeswoman for Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett said Monday.


The spokeswoman, Carrie ­Kimball Monahan, said she was not familiar with the investigation’s ­details; she could not say if there were eyewitnesses to the accident or how long it took police to identify Tranchita.

But authorities’ efforts were allegedly impeded by a conspiracy, ­contributing to the delay in the indictments.

“They were actively thwarting the investigation,” the spokeswoman said.

State and Saugus police ­declined to comment.

According to news reports at the time of the accident, Tello and Zullo were a couple and were living at a motel on Route 1. They may have been trying to reach a coffee shop or drugstore on the other side of the highway when they were hit, their grieving relatives told news reporters.

Tello was preparing to move into an apartment in Somerville; it would have been her first permanent home in several years and would have allowed­ her to spend more time with her two children, relatives said.

Calls to two of Tello’s siblings were not immediately returned.

A spokesman for the Middlesex sheriff’s office said Monday that Michael S. Tranchita Sr. ­retired in September 2007 following 20 years of employment there.

Neither Michael Tranchita Sr. nor his son could be reached for comment on Monday.

According to the website of Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, Michael Tranchita Sr. ran for the office of Middlesex County sheriff in 2010 and received more than 111,700 votes.


He was defeated by James V. DiPaola, the incumbent­ sheriff, who received 350,791 votes.

DiPaola committed suicide in a Maine motel room shortly after his reelection.

That occurred in the midst of a state investigation of his ­office and unfolding controversy over his decision to use a ­legal loophole to collect both his salary and his pension.

Jenna Russell can be reached at jrussell@globe.com.