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Lab scandals, elections top 2012 news in Mass.

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 23, 2012 at 4:13 pm •  Published: December 23, 2012

In western Massachusetts in November, a utility worker looking for a leak accidentally breached a gas line in Springfield, leading to a massive explosion that destroyed a strip club and about 40 other buildings. The sound and smell immediately alerted the worker that he'd breached the line, and he called rescue workers and instructed nearby residents to evacuate in a move that potentially saved lives. More than 20 peoples were injured.

It was a frustrating year for Massachusetts sports fans. The Red Sox fired manager Bobby Valentine less than one year after he was hired to bring order to the clubhouse that disintegrated during the 2011 pennant race. Instead, he clashed with players, coaches and the media, and the team finished last and with its worst record in almost 50 years.

The New England Patriots lost to the New York Giants 21-17 in the Super Bowl, leaving quarterback Tom Brady still one short of the record four Super Bowl victories by Terry Bradshaw for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Montana for the San Francisco 49ers.

Aerosmith returned to Boston to perform a rare free concert in front of a building in which the band got its start in the 1970s. Thousands of fans crowded fire escapes, stood on roofs and hung out windows to see the performance intended to encourage voting and promote the band's new album.

Catherine Greig, the longtime girlfriend of former Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger, was sentenced to eight years in prison for helping one of the FBI's most-wanted men evade capture during 16 years on the run. Greig is serving her sentence at a low-security federal prison in Minnesota. Greig, who is in her 60s, wants a judge to reduce her sentence.

Transgender inmate Michelle Kosilek won a long-awaited ruling when a federal judge ordered a taxpayer-funded sex-change surgery for her, saying the state Department of Corrections had shown "deliberate indifference" to her "serious medical need." The judge later put that ruling on hold while the DOC appeals. Kosilek, convicted in the 1990 murder of wife Cheryl Kosilek, was born male but has received hormone treatments and now lives as a woman in an all-male prison.

There were two separate major terrorist convictions in Massachusetts this year. Tarek Mehana of Sudbury was sentenced to 17½ years in prison for traveling to Yemen to seek training in a terrorist camp with the intention of going on to Iraq to fight U.S. soldiers there. When that plan failed, prosecutors said, he returned to the United States and began translating and disseminating materials online promoting violent jihad. In a second case, Rezwan Ferdaus was sentenced to 17 years in prison in a plot to fly remote-controlled model planes packed with explosives into the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol. He pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to terrorists and attempting to damage and destroy federal buildings with an explosive.