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January 6, 2014

Drug Trafficking Conviction Reversed Based Upon Invalid Warrantless Search of Vehicle

In many cases, the evidence obtained against a criminal defendant can and should be suppressed in court, based upon the police's violation of the defendant's constitutional rights in obtaining that evidence. Generally, if the police did not follow constitutional procedure, then a jury may not know about the evidence obtained as a result of the constitutional violation. A recent Massachusetts Appeals Court case illustrates this concept.

In Commonwealth v. Diaz, the defendant was convicted of trafficking cocaine in an amount of 28 grams or more, based upon two packages of cocaine that the police seized from the defendant's vehicle during a warrantless search of the vehicle. Several months prior to his arrest, the police had obtained information from a confidential informant that the defendant sold drugs, including at a building where a business named Family Oil was located, and that he packaged drugs there.

The police observed the defendant's vehicle parked behind the Family Oil building, located on private property, and entered the property. They saw the defendant exit the building and quickly place his jacket into his car and try to go back into the building. The police immediately seized and restrained the defendant. They then entered the building, searched the occupants, and found cocaine on two of them. Returning outside, the police searched the defendant's vehicle, without a warrant to do so, and found two bags of cocaine.

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November 9, 2011

Occupy Boston Protesters Inform Police of Possible Drug Dealing

According to the Boston Police department, two people camped at Occupy Boston at Dewey Square were arrested for allegedly selling heroin to an undercover cop in the bathroom of South Station, across the street from the ongoing protests. This was one of the first arrests made for drug trafficking at the Occupy Boston encampment.

The man and woman were arrested and subsequently released on personal recognizance after pleading not guilty to the charges of drug possession and distribution. A judge Monday ordered them to stay away from the Occupy Boston Center.

Boston Police prosecutors began a sting operation within the Occupation after a protester informed them of suspicious activity within the "tent city."

The full article can be seen here.

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September 21, 2011

City of Boston Condemns Dorchester "Drug Den"

A Dorchester three-decker home was condemned Monday September 19, and fined thousands of dollars after Boston city inspectors discovered a makeshift drug den, an illegal attic apartment, tampered gas meters, and suspect wiring.

The condemned house is located on 9 Inwood Street in Dorchester. According to reports, when inspectors arrived at the house they found a tenant dismantling TVs and computer monitors and illegally disposing of the mercury and dangerous chemicals inside them.

One of Mayor Menino's top priorities has been to clean up suspected drug dens and rid them of illegal activity and prostitution, says his spokeswoman Dot Joyce.

The full article can be seen here.

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February 6, 2011

Massachusetts Drug Trafficking Likely Led to Maine Drug Bust

Major drug busts are not limited to any demographic or economic region. Inner-city to rural, drug possession and use is a notable problem for the affected communities. In Dedham Maine, the Boston Glob reported, drug agents stated that they have seized more than 1 and half pounds of cocaine and arrested four people in connection with illegal drug possession and drug smuggling following a four month long investigation.

The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency said that the four arrested were: Michael Vilasuso, 29, of Dedham; Maureen Leeman, 49, of Mount Desert; Thaddeus Jozefowicz, 29, of Bangor; and Stephanie Martin, 45, of Clifton. These four Maine residents have been charged with trafficking in cocaine.

In addition to the drugs, $10,000 in cash was found at Michael Vilasuso's home in Dedham Maine, where he was arrested. The other three members of the illegal drug possession and drug smuggling ring were arrested later after being stopped in their vehicles. The Maine police believe that the cocaine was smuggled into Maine from somewhere in Massachusetts.

January 6, 2011

Bystander Fatally Shot by SWAT Team Member in Framingham Drug Raid

A Framingham sting operation early yesterday morning at 12:30am, is under investigation after Eurie Stamp, 68, was shot and killed by a police SWAT team member.

According to the Boston Globe article, Two men arraigned in fatal Framingham raid case, it is unclear whether the officer shot Stamp in self-defense, or if the gun fired accidently.

Stamp lived with defendant Josheph Bushfan, 20, and Bushfan's mother, with whom Stamp had a relationship. The second defendant, Devon Talbert, 20, lives in Boston.

Both men were under lengthy investigation for drug possession with intent to deliver, prompting the raid, and face criminal charges.

September 30, 2010

Anna Nicole Smith's former Lawyer and Doctor are on Trial for Giving her the Drugs that Killed Her.

anna-nicole-smith-and-howard-k-stern.jpgThree years after the famous former Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith overdosed on prescription medication, two now stand trial for conspiracy charges in her death. Howard K. Stern (Smith's former lawyer and close friend) and Drs. Khristine Eroshevich and Sandeep Kapoor (Smith's treating physicians) are in trial for "conspiring to prescribe controlled substances to an addict." Prosecutors claim Smith's overdose could have been prevented has she not been given access to a dangerous number of medications. However, prosecutors note that Smith is partially to blame, claiming that in addition to the numerous prescription medications prescribed by her two doctors, Smith may have traded sexual favors for other prescription meds. Under the conspiracy charges, the doctors could lose their licenses and fact up to five years in prison.

One damning piece of evidence is Dr. Kapoor's person journal, in which he wrote "I gave her methadone and valium. Can she ruin me?" This journal entry may evidence both the fact that the doctor prescribed her powerful meds and that he had a guilty conscience about doing so. The trial has been underway since August, and the prosecution is expected to finish its case this week. According to ABC News legal analyst Dana Cole, the basis for the charges is common sense: "You cannot give drugs to a known addict and her whole public perception was that she was a drug-crazed, drug-addicted individual."

In fact, certain pharmacists termed Smith's death "Pharmaceutical Suicide." After an internist approached a pharmacist to fill the model's prescriptions, he refused, warning that the prescriptions were a deadly combination. Her doctors are now facing the charges for ignoring an obvious danger in providing an array of powerful and addictive drugs. Dr. Khristine Eroshevich alone prescribed Smith 11 difference medications, including: two sedatives, 300 tablets of methadone, a muscle relaxer, an anti-inflammatory drug and four bottles of a painkiller nicknamed "hospital heroin."

The trial's outcome is likely to send a message to doctors and pain management patients to proceed carefully under California's strict drug laws. However, Superior Court Judge Robert Perry harshly criticized the prosecution in this case for "overreaching" and has indicated that he will not let some of the more serious charges go to a jury. Judge Perry is looking for evidence that the doctors are responsible for the overdose, not just inference from all the pills being present during her overdose. A defense expert, pain management expert Dr. Perry G. Fine, testified that even though Smith was prescribed 1,500 pills in one month for pain, it did not mean she was an addict - there were clinical factors that had to be considered such as her high tolerance for opiates and sedatives. To that I say yea right - If 1,500 pills in one month doesn't make you an addict, then I don't know what does. However, the law is the law. While common sense may prevail, the Judge had to instruct the jury that "the number of pills is not a determinative factor in the case."

It's surprising to note that the prosecution is planning to finish its case early this week - and so is the defense. The defense team intensely cross-examined every prosecution witness and made a surprise announcement that they will call no further witnesses once the prosecution rests. They say the case against their clients has not been proven. The prosecution has also presented evidence of Dr. Kapoor kissing Smith after riding with her in a gay pride parade to show that the doctor blurred the lines from professional to personal relationship. Judge Perry discourages this evidence however, wanted to focus the conclusion of this trial on two issues: whether Smith was an addict and whether prescriptions were obtained under false names.

Prosecution, Defense rest Cases in Smith Trial

Did Dr. Khristine Eroshevich Prescribe Pharmaceutical Suicide to Anna Nicole Smith

September 22, 2010

Paris Hilton Denied Entry to Japan Airport Just a Day After Pleading Guilty to Drug Charges in Las Vegas Case

On Monday, September 20th, Paris Hilton plead guilty to two misdemeanor cocaine possession charges. In exchange for her plea, she received probation and a one-year suspended sentence. The suspended sentence should come as a wake-up call to the hotel heiress after a host or arrests, stint in jail for an OUI conviction, and other drug charges. In fact, during the plea hearing, the judge warned Hilton that if she does not obey her probation conditions, she will likely land behind bars. Hilton admitted to knowingly possessing the cocaine, and for the sentence the judge dropped the felony possession charges down to misdemeanors as part of the plea agreement. As part of her probation, she must pay over $2,000 in fines, serve 200 hours of community service and complete a mandatory outpatient substance abuse program.

The story of Ms. Hilton gets even more newsworthy when yesterday, on Tuesday September 21st, only a day after her plea deal, Hilton was detained at a Japan airport. At Narita Airport, Japanese immigration officials delayed Hilton's entrance to the country. Under Japanese law, immigration authorities are allowed to deny entry to the country to those who have recently been convicted of drug-related offenses. The policy is both a part of Japan's strict anti-drug laws, and to prevent traveler's possessing drugs from entering the country.

This morning, Japanese officials officially denied Hilton entry to the country, and she was forced to board a plane for a different country. She was scheduled to appear at a news conference in Tokyo to promote her fashion and fragrance line, but this conference is now canceled. This would have been the first appearance on her Asian tour to promote her new stores and lines in Asia. However, both Japan and Malaysia have very strict anti-drug laws which may be an issue for the recently probated heiress. (Hilton is also scheduled to appear in Malaysia and open stores carrying her line in the next few days).

Paris Hilton Pleads Guilty to two Misdemeanor Charges in Cocaine Bust, Gets One Year Probation

Paris Hilton Detained at Airport in Japan

August 5, 2010

Attorney Francis T. Obrien Featured in Salem Evening News Article

Attorney Francis T. Obrien Jr., Head of the Criminal Practice at Parker Scheer LLP, was recently featured in an in The Salem Evening News.

Lawyer questions search in Beverly drug bust

By Paul Leighton and Julie Manganis Staff writers

BEVERLY -- Beverly police drug detectives found more than $9,000 worth of cocaine and heroin inside a Lexus on Wednesday evening and arrested the driver on trafficking charges.

But after suspect Israel Colon's lawyer raised questions about whether police, without a warrant, had the right to search the Lexus as extensively as they did -- using a trained drug-sniffing dog and ripping open a secret compartment in the SUV -- a Salem District Court judge set bail at just a fraction of the amount requested by prosecutors.

Colon, 24, who police say lives in Lawrence, pleaded not guilty during his arraignment yesterday to charges of cocaine and heroin trafficking and violating the city's knife ordinance.

Prosecutor Michelle DeCourcey sought a $500,000 cash bail. Judge Richard Mori set bail at just $10,000.

DeCourcey described how Beverly Detectives Sgt. Michael Cassola and Thomas Nolan, and Wenham police Detective Sgt. Mark Fraser were conducting surveillance on Cabot Street near the One Stop Market late Wednesday afternoon.

They saw two men known to them as drug users, then watched as they went back to the apartment of one of the men on Elliott Street, a short distance away, DeCourcey said.

Colon showed up a short time later and the detectives recognized him from an investigation a year and a half ago, DeCourcey told the judge.

The three went inside the apartment, and then Colon left, watched by the detectives as he went to the Lexus, which was parked on Chase Street.

Cassola noticed that the windows of the Lexus were illegally tinted and approached Colon, who said the SUV belongs to someone else.

Cassola said he saw a folding knife, opened up, on the back seat within reach of the driver's seat and arrested Colon on a charge of violating the city's knife ordinance, DeCourcey told the judge.

Then, police had the SUV towed because the person that Colon identified as the owner has no license.

DeCourcey said the officers noticed a strong odor of air fresheners -- often used to conceal the odor of drugs -- and spotted what appeared to be wires wrapped with electrical tape dangling from under a panel in the car.

Eventually, with the help of the drug dog Blitz, police found a total of 58 grams of cocaine (about 2 ounces) and 24 grams of heroin, packaged in small bags and hidden inside mouthwash bottles, which were then hidden inside a secret compartment. They also found $1,000 in cash, and another $341 on Colon.

Detectives also found "several newspaper clippings" on recent drug arrests, police said.

The detectives believe the packaging method used is an indication that Colon is part of drug ring they refer to as the "Burgos-Ortiz gang."

Last March, police arrested Juan Burgos, 24, of Lawrence on drug-trafficking charges in Beverly Farms, where he claimed he'd gone for pizza.

Defense lawyer Frank O'Brien argued that the search went well beyond the scope of anything police were legally entitled to do without a warrant -- and called DeCourcey's request for bail "patently absurd."

O'Brien told the judge that "by sheer coincidence" he also represents Burgos, who was released on $15,000 bail following his indictment.

Beyond that, O'Brien said, the search described by DeCourcey was "a patently illegal search."

Police are allowed to conduct searches of vehicles without a warrant under specific circumstances. They can look for evidence related to the offense for which someone is arrested, in this case a knife ordinance violation. They can also conduct what are known as "inventory" searches, intended to document the contents of a vehicle being towed in case of a future loss claim.

"This case is going nowhere," O'Brien argued, "because it was an illegal search."

Lawyer Questions search in Beverly Drug Bust.

June 8, 2010

Possession with Intent to Distribute within a School Zone

Elvis Colon, 33, was arrested for trafficking cocaine (28 grams or more), trafficking cocaine (28 grams or more) in a school zone.

Eliezer Montanez, 23, was arrested for possession of class D drug with intent to distribute, possession of class D drug with intent to distribute in a school zone, willful and malicious damage to property over $250, warrant for assault and battery, threatening to commit a crime.

Jose Roldan, 22, arrested for driving to endanger, failing to stop for police, speeding, failing to submit vehicle to state inspection, failure to stop at a stop sign, driving without a license, possession of a class A drug with intent to distribute, possession of a class A drug with intent to distribute in a school zone, driving without registration.

In Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 94C Section 32G, any "person who knowingly or intentionally creates, distributes, dispenses or possesses with intent to distribute or dispense a counterfeit substance" can be punished for up to one year in a jail or house of correction and/or with fines from $250 to $2,500.

However, this violation if taken place in a school zone carries heftier consequences. School zone, or school property, is defined as "in or on, or within 1000 feet" of any public or private accredited school, at any point in time. The law perceives a significant difference between charges of "possession with intent to distribute or dispense" and "possession with intent to distribute" in, on, or near school property.

According to Chapter 94C Section 32J, possession with intent to distribute in a school zone merits a sentence of two and a half years to fifteen years in a state prison, or a sentence of two years in a jail. Fines range from $1000 to $10,000 dollars on top of the mandatory minimum two year prison sentence.

That's a difference of $750-$7500 in fines and a discrepancy of twelve or more years in jail or even state prison.

Lowell Sun, June 8th, 2010 Arrest Log

Please contact the established criminal defense lawyers at Parker Scheer, if you or someone you know needs representation in a drug possession and intent to distribute case.