New Bedford man charged in Hawthorne Country Club fire

Mar 29, 2024

This story has been updated with information from a Massachusetts Supreme Court indictment. More information will be added as it becomes available.

FALL RIVER — Nearly one year after Dartmouth’s vacant Hawthorne Country club was completely destroyed in a blaze that officials say was “intentionally set,” a New Bedford man has been charged with burning the 970 Tucker Road building. 

Shawn Medeiros, 31, of New Bedford, was arrested by Massachusetts State Police and arraigned at Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River on Thursday, March 28, according to State Fire Marshal Jon M. Davine and Dartmouth Fire District 2 Chief Erick Turcotte.

He pleaded not guilty to the felony charge of burning a building. A guilty verdict could carry a penalty of up to 10 years in a state prison, according to Massachusetts General Law. Mederios will next appear in court for a pre-trial hearing on June 10 at the Fall River Superior Court House. 

Medeiros was released on personal recognizance, according to information obtained from the court. As per the conditions of his release, he is ordered to stay away from the Hawthorne Country Club and report to the probation department once by phone each week. 

The fire was reported around 1:30 p.m. on May 7, 2023 and was extinguished in about two hours, said Turcotte. 

According to court documents, state arson investigators claim “accelerants were used to set the fire which caused the building to be a total loss.”

No one was injured in the fire, said Turcotte. 

The fire came just days after realtor Jeff Hathaway of Seaport Realty announced that the property was placed under agreement with Toll Brothers for $3 million.

On Friday, March 29, Hathaway confirmed that Toll Brothers is still interested in buying the property. Hathaway said in a text message that Toll Brothers will be proposing its plans to develop the Hawthorne Country Club into housing for residents 55 and older to the Town of Dartmouth in the “near future.”

The property is owned by Bliss Investors Inc., whose officers are Ivonilde Hathaway and Stephanie DeMello. The two women are the daughters of controversial seafood magnate Carlos Raphael, who has faced legal problems in the past.

Raphael is not part of Bliss Investors now, Jeff Hathaway said, but “he’s the guy that got all of us started.’’

Jeff Hathaway said Raphael set up the business to help his family. “He wants his kids to be successful,’’ he said.

It is unclear if Medeiros has any connection to either party involved in the sale. 

Toll Brothers responded to our request for comment but could not provide further details at this time. 

The police report for this case was not readily available. The Massachusetts Department of State Police denied Dartmouth Week’s records request pending prosecution. 

Neither the Bristol County District Attorney’s office nor the Massachusetts Fire Marshal’s office can provide comment pending the ongoing investigation.