Recently in Mandatory Sentencing Category

September 20, 2010

Gardner and Smith Plea Not Guilty to OUI and Motor Vehicle Homicide Charges in Death of Highway Construction Worker

One Tuesday, September 14, Gardner and Smith were allegedly driving drunk on Route 9 and crashed into a highway construction crew. The crash was at a high speed, and killed Gregory Vilidnitsky, an inspector for the state's Department of Transportation. Police and prosecutors say the two were drunk behind the wheel when they smashed into Vilidnisky and then into an oil truck. According to the prosecutor at arraignment, the two men admitted to drinking before driving. In fact, Smith admitted to police that he had consumed four to five jack and coke drinks, and felt intoxicated. The two then tried to run away but were apprehended by the construction crew and an officer on duty. Gardner and Smith are both carpenters who were staying at a hotel in Framingham.

The two men were arraigned in Framingham District Court on September 15, 2010. Both Gardner and Smith claim the other was the driver, and both pled not guilty to the various charges, including: Operating under the Influence (OUI) and Motor Vehicle Homicide. Gardner was ordered held in lieu of $100,000 cash bail, on charges of speeding, motor vehicle homicide and, if convicted, this would be his second OUI. Smith was ordered to be held in lieu of $50,000 cash bail. This is Smith's third OUI charge, and faces a significant sentence if convicted. The prosecutor explained, during arraignment, that a strong odor of alcohol emanated from both Gardner and Smith when apprehended, and they were glassy eyed.

These men are no strangers to a courtroom. Gardner has 11 convictions on his criminal record, including drug convictions and one for operating a car with a suspended license. Smith has two prior OUI convictions in Vermont. Under Megan's Law in Massachusetts, consecutive OUI convictions increase the sentences suspects face. According to Gardner's lawyer, the major question at trial will be who was driving, because that person will face more serious consequences.

2 Held in Death of Highway Worker

Two held on High Bail After Highway Workers Death in Framingham

August 13, 2010

Massachusetts Legislative Drug Sentencing Reform

Beacon Hill.jpg

Beacon Hill, MA - August 1, 2010--In a positive step toward drug sentencing reform in Massachusetts, Governor Patrick and state legislative law makers signed into law part of the Senate-approved bill asking for equal access to parole, work eligibility and work release programs as non-drug offenders.

According to Massachusetts not-for-profit, Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), the new law states that "offenders in county Houses of Correction to be eligible for parole after they serve one-half of their sentence (the same as other county prisoners who are eligible for parole), unless one or more 'aggravating factors' apply: they used violence or guns when committing the drug offense, they directed the drug activities of others, or they sold drugs to minors or used minors in drug transactions. The bill applies to those who are currently incarcerated, as well as to those sentenced in the future."

One of at least 15 states, Massachusetts law makers believe re-writing state mandatory drug sentencing laws will address public safety issues and reduce prison costs, as well as support prisoners' rights to parole.