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Boston driver killed in Vermont remembered as a ‘personable, smiling guy’

Roberto Fonseca-Rivera of Roslindale drove trucks for produce wholesaler Katsiroubas Bros.
Roberto Fonseca-Rivera of Roslindale drove trucks for produce wholesaler Katsiroubas Bros.Katsiroubas Bros.

Roslindale resident Roberto Fonseca-Rivera, a driver for produce wholesaler Katsiroubas Bros. who was found dead Friday in a company truck on a rural Vermont road, was a helpful and dependable employee, the company’s owner said.

“He was a very kind, always had a smile every time I saw him,” Ted Katsiroubas, owner and chief executive of the Hyde Park-based company, said in a phone interview Sunday. “Very dependable, reliable. He showed up. He was able to do pretty much any route that we asked of him, and just a very personable, smiling guy.”

Katsiroubas said Fonseca-Rivera, who was hired about two years ago, was also an adept mechanic and would sometimes stay late to help co-workers fix their cars.

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Grief counselors will be available for employees Monday, Katsiroubas said. He said he had invited Fonseca-Rivera’s family to come and speak with counselors as well. The company, which buys and sells produce and other foods from across New England, is cooperating with investigators, according to Katsiroubas and Vermont State Police.

“Right now what we’ve really been doing is just being close with each other,” Katsiroubas said. “It’s a tight knit group to begin with.”

Vermont State Police found the body of Fonseca-Rivera, 44, on the side of Route 103 in Rockingham Friday afternoon. Police said in a statement that he “appears to have died as the result of gunshot wounds.”

Fonseca-Rivera was working Friday, Katsiroubas said, making stops in Vermont.

Police said he left Rutland about 12:15 p.m. and headed south on Route 103.

Investigators believe he was shot between 1 and 1:30 p.m., according to police. He was found at about 5:45 p.m., when troopers conducting a well-being check on the truck looked inside and saw Fonseca-Rivera’s body.

Fonseca-Rivera’s autopsy was scheduled for Sunday, state police said. Messages left with the medical examiner’s office were not returned.

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No arrests had been made as of Sunday afternoon. A spokesman for Vermont State Police, Adam Silverman, said he had no updates to release Sunday.

Fonseca-Rivera had recently returned to his job with the produce company after pleading guilty to a federal drug charge in the fall of 2018 and serving a short prison sentence, Katsiroubas said.

Company officials felt the charge against him was not major and that he had earned their respect, Katsiroubas said.

“He had served his time and he really, from all of our perspectives, left such a good impression on us that we felt comfortable bringing him back,” Katsiroubas said. “We believed in him and felt like he was a good employee.”

Fonseca-Rivera had pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to posses cocaine with intent to distribute, Silverman said. Fonseca-Rivera was one of five people arrested in the operation, accused of picking up packages containing cocaine that had been mailed from Puerto Rico to addresses in Canton, Stoughton, Quincy, and Framingham, according to a press release from US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling’s office.

Fonseca-Rivera was sentenced to a year and a day in prison, court records show. It was the shortest sentence handed down in the drug trafficking case: The other four men accused with him are serving sentences of between 2½ and 17½ years. It was unclear Sunday when Fonseca-Rivera was released from prison.

Anyone who saw the green Katsiroubas Bros. truck Fonseca-Rivera was driving Friday, or has any other information about the case, can call the Vermont State Police Westminster barracks at 802-722-4600.

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Gal Tziperman Lotan can be reached at gal.lotan@globe.com or at 617-929-2043.