June 2010 Archives

June 30, 2010

Phillip Markoff, The Alleged Craigslist Killer, Trial Set for March 2011

amd_philip_markoff.jpgPhillip Markoff, the former Boston University medical student and accused Craigslist killer is scheduled to go on trial for the Murder of a 24 year-old masseuse in a Boston's Marriott Copley Place Hotel.

Markoff is alleged to have met the victim, Julissa Brisman, 25, through a Craigslist ad she placed advertising erotic services. The Boston Police and Suffolk County District Attorney's Office have accused Markoff of meeting with Brisman at the hotel, and crushing her skull with the butt of a handgun, and then shooting her three times in the chest. He then allegedly hid the murder weapon in a hollowed-out textbook in his apartment in Quincy, where he lived at the time.

The Boston Police report that, during an extensive search of his home, they also seized four pairs of women's panties hidden in his mattress box spring, as well as plastic ties they say are similar to those he allegedly used to bind his victims. In separate investigations involving other women, Markoff's fingerprints were also reportedly lifted from the duct tape he allegedly used to gag one of his victims.

Phillip Markoff is also accused of robbing another woman at Boston's Westin Hotel, as well as attacking a third woman in a Rhode Island Hotel.

Currently held without bail awaiting trial in Suffolk Superior Court, he has been charged with Murder, Kidnapping, Armed Assault with Intent to Rob, and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm.

Continue reading "Phillip Markoff, The Alleged Craigslist Killer, Trial Set for March 2011" »

June 29, 2010

High Speed Chase on Mass. Pike Leads to Psychiatric Evaluation

Pike Chase.jpgEarly yesterday afternoon, Massachusetts State Police Officers initiated pursuit of Alejandro Serra for allegedly driving through downtown Boston and screaming out of his car, and then driving at a man and his grandson who asked him to turn down the music.

Serra, however, wouldn't stop for Massachusetts State Police Troopers, and led them on a high-speed chase on the Massachusetts Turnpike from Boston to Framingham. The chase only ended when Serra rammed his can into a Massachusetts State Police vehicle and spun out of control.

Alejandro Serra was arraigned this morning in the Boston Municipal Court on several charges including Assault & Battery with a Dangerous Weapon, Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle, and Failure to Stop for Police.

Alejandro Serra.jpgHe had been evaluated by a Court Psychologist, who described him to be "out of touch with reality" and recommended that he continue to be evaluated. Ultimately, Serra was held on $5,000 cash bail and ordered to be sent to Bridgewater State Hospital to under a more comprehensive psychiatric evaluation. Clearly, there is a question of whether Serra is even Competent to Stand Trial; and even if so, whether there is a Defense of Lack of Criminal Responsibility for his actions.

Continue reading "High Speed Chase on Mass. Pike Leads to Psychiatric Evaluation" »

June 28, 2010

Boston Federal Prosecutors Allege Russian Spies in Cambridge

Boston Federal prosecutors allege that two Cambridge residents were arrested in a national sweep for allegedly serving as spies for Russian intelligence. 10 other people were arrested as part of the sweep, all alleged spies living across the eastern seaboard. The couple, living in Cambridge as Donald Howard Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley, were arrested at their home in Cambridge on Sunday.

Both Heathfield and Foley were charged in Boston's Federal Court with Conspiracy to Act an an Unregistered Agent of a Foreign Government and Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering.

In their indictment, prosecutors allege that the couple had met with an employee of the U.S. government regarding nuclear weapons research and had discussed a method for sending secret messages to Russian intelligence headquarters in Moscow. As recently at 2006, a search of the couple's townhouse led to the discovery of traces of deleted electronic messages that were believed to be part of messages that were later sent to Russian headquarters using a process called "steganogrphy" (a process where encrypted data can be placed on images on publicly available websites but without the data being visible to the casual user).

Boston Federal prosecutors also allege that Foley had traveled to Russian on a fake British passport that was prepared by Russian intelligence; and they also recovered an electronic message reminder to train herself to reproduce the signature.

Additionally, prosecutors believe that Heathfield was using the name of a deceased Canadian man. Boston Federal prosecutors allege to have found a copy of a birth certificate of a Canadian man named Donald Howard Graham Heathfield during a 2001 search of a safe deposit box in Cambridge; and also discovered a Canadian newspaper death announcement for Howard William Heathfield in 2005, which noted that his son, Donald Heathfield, was also deceased. Curiously, both the death announcement and the Canadian birth certificate refer to Donald Howard Heathfield's mother as Shirley, suggesting that the defendant in this case was using this alias.

Both Heathfield and Foley are next scheduled to appear in Boston's Federal Court on Thursday for a detention hearing.

Continue reading "Boston Federal Prosecutors Allege Russian Spies in Cambridge" »

June 24, 2010

Waltham Man Arrested for Drug Trafficking in Boston

Jesse Bumbaca of Waltham, and Marino Spirakis of Peabody, were arrested last evening for allegedly engaging in a drug transaction involving almost 1,000 oxycodone pills.

The Boston Police Department reports that Drug Officers were investigation a Kingston Street, Boston, address where Bumbaca was allegedly running a drug business. Sometime around 7:00 p.m. last evening, officers report they observed Spirakis park at that address and Bumbaca came out and handed him a black box. There was no indication that the Boston Police Officers could see what was in that black box, nor was there any elaboration as to why they believed that Bumbaca handing Spirakis that black box constituted a drug transaction.

After both men left the area in separate cars, Boston and Massachusetts State Police Officers stopped Bumbaca's car at the Regatta Hotel in Cambridge. Police Officers seized a backpack containing 950 oxycodone pills, and $8,000. In the meantime, other Boston and Massachusetts State Police Officers stopped Spirakis' car, seizing the black box which was found to contain $52,000.

Bumbaca was charged with Trafficking a Class B Controlled Substance over 100 grams and Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Laws; and Spirakis was charged with Possession of a Class E Substance and Conspiracy to Violate the Drugs Laws. Both men are expected to be arraigned in Boston Municipal Court this morning.

It is not known what information, if any, Boston Police Officers had regarding Spirakis. It doesn't appear to me, however, that there is a strong case for the government, at least as it pertains to Spirakis. Several issues give me many red flags, including issues of Search & Seizure, specifically, whether the Boston Police had 'reasonable suspicion' to stop his car. Without more, what has been reported does not appear to amount to 'specific and articulable facts' to justify a search and seizure of Spirakis' vehicle.

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June 23, 2010

Norwood Man Pleads Guilty to String of Armed Robberies

Michael Coty, 45, of Norwood, Massachusetts, pled Guilty in U.S. District Court in Boston in connection to three Armed Robberies in Needham, Wellesley and neighboring communities.

Police alleged that Coty and his co-defendant, Dimitri Long, robbed several Boston banks between April and July in 2009. During those robberies, the suspects allegedly wore masks and placed a fake bomb on the tellers' counters before robbing the banks at gunpoint. Once the fake bomb was in place, the robbers would stage a fake 30 second countdown before the bomb was to go off.

Long has not changed his plea, and is contesting the criminal indictment that charges him with Armed Bank Robbery.

Having pled Guilty the three counts of Armed Robbery, Coty could face up to 25 years in Federal Prison, and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count. He is next scheduled to appear in Boston's Federal Court for sentencing on September 13, 2010.

Continue reading "Norwood Man Pleads Guilty to String of Armed Robberies" »

June 21, 2010

U.S. Citizen Pleads Guilty to Acts of Terrorism in Times Square Bombing

Faisal Shahzad.jpgFaisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-born U.S. Citizen, plead guilty today in Manhattan's Federal Court in connection with the failed Times Square bombing this past May. The 10-count indictment included charges of Conspiracy to Use a Weapon of Mass Destruction; Attempting an Act of Terrorism; and Transportation of an Explosive.

Shahzad is a self-proclaimed "Muslim soldier" who resided in Connecticut and who apparently had no history of support for jihad and was not on the U.S. government's watch list. It was discovered, however, that he had received 'terror training' in Pakistan sometime late in 2009. He told the court that he had traveled to Pakistan to join the Tehrik-e-Taliban extremist group and trained with them for 40 days, with an additional 5 days of explosives training. It was also reported that he had received about $12,000 to help fund the car-bomb attack.

Upon his guilty plea, Shahzad explained that he arrived in Times Square on May 1st sometime after 6:00 p.m. and lit the fuses, hoping the bomb would explode in less than 5 minutes. He also stated that he then walked to Grand Central Station and listened for the bomb to explode. When he didn't hear anything, he took a train back to Connecticut. Inside the car bomb were several bags of fertilizer, 2 5-gallon gasoline canisters, 152 M-88 fireworks, 3 propane gas canisters and 2 alarm clocks connected to wires.

At sentencing, Faisal Shahzad faces life imprisonment.

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June 19, 2010

Roxbury 13-Year-Old Arrested for Armed Robbery

Boston Police Officers responded to a report of "an Armed Robbery in progress" at 10:30 p.m. Thursday evening. Once on scene, police officers met with the victim who reported that six or seven men had tried to rob him of his bike. Once the group of young men surrounded him, the youngest of them, a 13 year old, allegedly demanded the bike and his wallet, while another boy pointed what was alleged to be a gun.

As the Boston Police Officers were speaking to the victim, the 13 year old old allegedly rode another bike near the area, where he was identified as one of the suspects. Although he gave several false names to police officers, his identity was eventually determined and it was also discovered that he several outstanding arrest warrants.

It is not clear whether any gun or weapons were recovered.

The 13 year old boy, whose name was not released due to his being a juvenile, was arraigned Friday morning in the Dorchester Division of the Boston Municipal Court on charges including Armed Robbery and Resisting Arrest.

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June 18, 2010

Middlesex County District Attorney Reports Thomas Mortimer IV Left Notes Confessing to Winchester Murders

New details have emerged regarding the Winchester Murders of a wife, grandmother and two young children in Winchester this week. After the man charged with the Murders, Thomas Mortimer IV, was arrested the other day, Middlesex County prosecutors have revealed that they have discovered two letters, purportedly written by Mortimer, confessing the murders.

The bodies of Mortimer's two young children, as well as his wife and mother-in-law, were found late Wednesday morning this past week after local authorities conducted a forced entry into the Winchester home at the request of family members concerned for their well-being. Specific details regarding the 'horrific' murder scene have not been disclosed, but Middlesex County prosecutors have reported that the four-year old child was lying with his mother; the mother-in-law was found in the living room; and the two year old was found upstairs in her crib.

One letter was reportedly handwritten and left on a coffee table, while the other letter, identical in substance but typed, was found in the kitchen. Paraphrasing the contents of the letters, the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office reports that Mortimer allegedly wrote that he is responsible for those horrible things, and that his acts were selfish and cowardly. He also wrote that he "murdered my family."

Given these purported admissions confessing to having committed the crimes of Murder, I would suspect that Thomas Mortimer will be evaluated by psychiatrists and an Insanity Defense would be complicated if/when this case goes to trial.

The Middlesex County District Attorney's Office also reports seizing 'apparent weapons' from inside the home where the murders occurred. Although the type of 'weapons' have not yet been disclosed to the public, prosecutors suggest that Mortimer may have also attempted to commit suicide. It had previously been reported, however, that when Mortimer was arrested in Bernardston, there were no apparent injuries to his person.

Thomas Mortimer was reportedly transferred by the Bernardston Police to the Winchester Police Department yesterday afternoon following his arrest, and he is scheduled to be arraigned in Middlesex County Superior Court in Woburn this morning on four counts of Murder.

Continue reading "Middlesex County District Attorney Reports Thomas Mortimer IV Left Notes Confessing to Winchester Murders" »

June 17, 2010

Accused Winchester Murderer Thomas Mortimer IV Arrested in Western Massachusetts

Thomas Mortimer.jpgThe Middlesex County District Attorney's Office has confirmed that Thomas Mortimer IV, the man suspected in the Murder of his wife, mother-in-law and two young children in their Wincheser home, was arrested yesterday in the Western Massachusetts town of Bernardston.

On Wednesday, June 16, 2010, after not having been able to get in touch with the family or haven't heard from them since Sunday, family members called emergency personnel to investigate whether everything was alright in the home. The Winchester Fire Department responded and after breaking down the front door, discovered what has only been described as a gruesome crime scene. No details have been released concerning the condition of the victims, but police and the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office maintains that the scene is without question, indicative of Murder.


The only household resident that had not been accounted for on Wednesday was Thomas Mortimer. His boss at the Burlington technology consulting firm reported to police that he had called in sick Wednesday morning and that he had not heard from him since. Although Massachusetts State Police and Winchester Police were not calling Mortimer a suspect early on and described only as a person of interest, it was clear by all reports that he was the main target in this murder investigation. In fact, Middlesex County prosecutor had sought and obtained an Arrest Warrant earlier yesterday morning charging him with four counts of Murder.

When Mortimer couldn't be found, Massachusetts State Police issued a bulletin that he was driving a light/gray Toyota Highlander, and also released a photo of him along with a photo of a similar vehicle that he could have been driving. He was arrested hours after the Arrest Warrant had been issued.

Continue reading "Accused Winchester Murderer Thomas Mortimer IV Arrested in Western Massachusetts" »

June 16, 2010

Massachusetts Governor Proposes Gun Law Reform to Stem Violence

In the wake of increased shootings and murders in the Boston area this year, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is pressuring state lawmakers to pass a new gun law bill that would limit gun buyers to one firearm per month. The new bill would also encourage the Massachusetts District Attorney's Offices to seek to deny bail to those charged with Unlawful Possession of a Firearm; as well as limit the use of certain firearms at gun clubs and shooting ranges.

Unfortunately for Massachusetts' Governor and those lawmakers in favor of passing such a bill, doing so would do nothing to stem the violence that has plagued the inner city. It is well-documented that the overwhelming majority of, if not all, crimes involving guns are committed with unregistered or illegal firearms. Limiting citizens' rights of those who have been screened and issued valid gun licenses will have absolutely no impact on curbing inner-city violence.

When someone with a gun license purchases a firearm, he/she is not only checked by the local police department, but also screened through the FBI database. Each time someone buys a gun, the gunshop owner checks with the FBI prior to issuing the gun. Additionally, each gun is designated with a serial number, so even if that person then transfers that gun to another person, it must then be re-registered to that new buyer. A gun owner cannot, for example, buy a gun and simply give it to anyone he wants.

Having represented numerous clients charged with Gun Crimes and Crimes of Violence, I can attest that most, if not all, my gun cases have involved firearms that are old and from which the serial numbers have been removed. In most instances, these guns are brought illegally into Massachusetts from other states with more lenient gun purchasing laws - not transferred to 'criminals' from lawful registered gun owners. In many other instances, the crimes committed in Boston's inner-city are with 'community guns'. A 'community gun' is one that is stashed in a certain place in a particular neighborhood, the location of which is known to several people.

The solution, in my opinion, is not to enact stricter gun licensing requirements, but rather to implement more efficient police investigative practices and community relations. Massachusetts already has one of the toughest, if not the toughest, gun licensing laws in the entire country. The crimes of violence that has plagued Boston in recent months were not committed by licensed gun owners, nor is there any indication that the weapons used to commit these crimes were enabled through licensed gun owners.

...and denying bail as a matter of course to all those persons charged with unlawful gun possession? What ever happened to the presumption of innocence? The objective and only objective of bail is to ensure the person's next appearance in court. It should not be a mechanism to 'get someone off the street' or impose a de facto penalty simply because you have been charged with a crime, no matter what it is.

Continue reading "Massachusetts Governor Proposes Gun Law Reform to Stem Violence" »

June 15, 2010

Mattapan Man Charged with Robbery at Boston Movie Theater

Chukuma E. Ajene, 26, of Mattapan, Massachusetts, was arrested this past weekend for allegedly attempting to rob the AMC Lowes Theater on Tremont Street in Boston.

The Boston Police Department reported that Ajene, armed with a gun, allegedly jumped the counter and threatened to shoot everyone in the theater. The incident was apparently captured on the video surveillance system, and nobody was reported to have been harmed.

Ajene is expected to be charged with Armed Robbery, Trespassing, and Gun / Firearms Charges.

Continue reading "Mattapan Man Charged with Robbery at Boston Movie Theater" »

June 14, 2010

What Are the Limits of the Government Interfering with Criminal Prosecutions and the Attorney-Client Relationship?

I was scheduled to begin a trial today in Suffolk Superior Court, which never happened. My client, a woman, had been charged with Trafficking Over 200 grams of Heroin, a Drug Crime which carries a minimum-mandatory sentence of 15 years in state prison.

As insurmountable as the charge might sound, my client actually had an extremely strong defense. The government had no evidence to prove that she had knowledge that the FedEx package that was delivered to her home from India and which was addressed to someone else. Her defense against the Drug Trafficking charge was so strong that, despite her awareness of facing 15 years if she lost at trial, she at all times unequivocally maintained her innocence and rejected several offers by the prosecutor to plead guilty to reduced charges that would not result in jail time.

The prosecutor initially offered to reduce the charge of Trafficking to the lesser offense of Possession With Intent to Distribute (which doesn't carry a minimum-mandatory sentence) if she agreed to three years' probation. She said no. More so than anything else, she couldn't bring herself to change her plea to guilty in open court and admit to something that she didn't do. She continued to maintain her innocence, even up until the day of trial, when the prosecutor offered just a Guilty finding, without any probation or any committed time so that she would be free to walk out of court that day.

Seeing that the client wouldn't budge and was resolved in putting the government to proving its weak case against her by going to trial, the government engaged what I maintain are 'bush league' tactics...

Just days before trial, and without my knowledge, the lead detective on the case against my client called the defendant's family. He proceeded to tell them the 'grave' penalties that my client was facing if she lost at trial, and that it was in her 'best interest' to just take a deal. This communication to the client's family, without my knowledge, was no doubt done to scare the family into convincing the defendant to just take a deal. The client's family called me in a panic...they were convinced they said, even though they knew the client was innocent, she had to take a deal.

Well, it worked...the client ended up taking an "Alford Plea"...meaning she changed her plea to guilty but without admitting any wrongdoing and she was released shortly thereafter. A woman, who had denied any wrongdoing, and who did not have any previous arrests, let alone convictions, is now a convicted felon, must submit her DNA to the state's DNA database, will lose her Driver's License for 3 years, and will suffer all the indignities and collateral consequences of having a felony drug conviction follow her for the rest of her life.

If the government believed so strongly in the case against her to bring forth an indictment for Trafficking, why then practically beg her to take a plea on a reduced charge?

If the government's case was so strong, then why employ the police detective to engage in scare tactics to her family in the hopes of them convincing her to take a deal?

At the end of the day, if the government doesn't have a good faith belief in the cases they indict, then either don't prosecute or don't be afraid to be put to the test at trial.

File under: Bull....

June 13, 2010

Two Dorchester Men Arrested for Shooting 15 Year Old Teen

Chester A. Johnson, 24, and Terrance L. Blalock, 27, both from Dorchester, Massachusetts, were arrest last night in connection with the shooting of a 15 year old old in Dorchester.

According to the Boston Police Department, the 15 year old was riding his bike on Eustis Street in Dorchester when a car pulled up alongside him. One man got out of the car, fired several shots at the teenager, and then got back in the car. The car was eventually pulled over and both Johnson and Blalock were arrested on Quincy Street less than 20 minutes after the shooting.

The 15 year old victim was taken to a Boston area hospital where his injuries were reported as non-life-threatening. This incident marks the fifth shooting of a Boston teenager in the last several weeks.

Both Johnson and Blalock are expected to arraigned in the Dorchester Division of the Boston Municipal Court on Monday. Each are charged with Assault with Intent to Murder and multiple Gun / Firearms Violations.

Continue reading "Two Dorchester Men Arrested for Shooting 15 Year Old Teen" »

June 10, 2010

Suit Filed Against Lowell Police Department Alleging Police Misconduct

Kenneth McElroy, 45, has filed a lawsuit in Boston Federal Court alleging Civil Rights violations by the Lowell Police Department. He is seeking $500,000 in damages for a herniated disc, nerve damage, and soreness and bruising that caused him to miss several months of work.

The incident resulted from McElroy's arrest on criminal charges including Assault with a Dangerous Weapon and Disorderly Conduct. Attorneys representing the City of Lowell Police Department claim the lawsuit is without merit and have asked that the suit be thrown out.

According to his lawsuit, McElroy drove to Lowell in April of 2008 to pickup up James Earle who was to help him with a construction project. As he was driving, the operator of a parked truck opened its driver's-side door and nearly caused an accident. Not knowing if McElroy had struck the vehicle, he got out of his truck to see if there was any damage to either vehicle.

The driver of the other car, John Berard, then allegedly ran up and punched him in the face. Earle then got out of the car and stopped the assault, and as McElroy went to leave, Berard chased him with a hammer and crowbar.

Conversely, Berard told police he was sitting in his truck when McElroy sped close. Words were exchanged and the men got involved in a physical confrontation, at which time McElroy pulled out a knife. According to Berard, only when McElroy displayed the knife did he then grab a hammer.

Eventually, Lowell Police Officers responded to the incident and McElroy claims that when he tried to explain to them what transpired, the officers told him to shut up and placed him under arrest. He alleges that the Lowell Police Officers grabbed him by the shoulder, threw him against a fence, squeezed him by the neck and threw him to the ground.

In order to succeed on his Civil Rights lawsuit against the Lowell Police Officers, McElroy must demonstrate the existence of a municipal custom or policy that intentionally deprives him of his rights. On this basis, the attorney's for the Lowell Police Officers claim that his suit has no merit.

With regards to McElroy's criminal charges of Assault with a Dangerous Weapon and Disorderly Conduct resulting from this incident, he was charged in the Lowell District Court and the case was eventually dismissed in August 2008.

Continue reading "Suit Filed Against Lowell Police Department Alleging Police Misconduct" »

June 9, 2010

Fugitive Who Escape from Sheriff's Van Apprehended in Charlestown

As a follow-up to my June 4, 2010 post on the Boston Criminal Lawyers Blog, Stephen Woodard, who had escaped from a Suffolk County Sheriff's van, surrendered this past Monday in Charlestown, Massachusetts.

You may recall that Woodard escaped from the Sheriff's van on foot last Friday and then stole a Department of Public Works vehicle that had the keys inside. A tip to the Boston Police Department led them to an apartment in McNulty Court in Charlestown, where Woodard was found.

Woodard is currently facing Armed Robbery and Drug Charges and Charlestown and East Boston District Courts, but could also face additional charges, including Escape and Larceny of a Motor Vehicle.

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June 8, 2010

Dad Drives Drunk, Crashes with UnBelted Child in Boston

Michael Tompkins, 40 of North Weymouth, Massachusetts, was arraigned yesterday morning in Quincy District Court with numerous Drunk Driving charges for driving while under the influence and crashing the car, all with his 6 year old, without a seat belt, in the car.

Tompkins allegedly rear-ended another vehicle last Friday, and then drove away from the scene. The woman whose minivan he hit, then followed him while calling the police. At his arraignment in Quincy District Court, prosecutors alleged that when he was stopped, Tompkins could not stand up without help from the police; slurred his speech; smelled of alcohol and admitted to drinking. Although Tompkins' 6 year old daughter complained of some pain, it appeared that she was OK.

Held on $2,500 cash bail after his arraignment, Tompkins was charged with numerous Drunk Driving Charges, including DUI/OUI, 3rd Offense; Child Endangerment While Under the Influence of Alcohol; Failing to Properly Restrain a Child in a Vehicle; Failure to Stop for Police; Leaving the Scene of an Accident; and Driving to Endanger.

Massachusetts Child Seat Belt Laws:

In Massachusetts, all children under the age of 5 MUST be fastened and secured in a child passenger restraint unless the child measures more than 57 inches in height. If the child is between 5 - 12 years of age, and measuring greater than 57 inches in height, the child MUST be secured with a seatbelt.

Continue reading "Dad Drives Drunk, Crashes with UnBelted Child in Boston" »

June 6, 2010

Boston Police Net One of Largest Drug Busts in City History, Defense Case Appears Strong

Drugs.jpgExecuting a Search Warrant this past week, the Boston Police Department netted the seizure of almost 1 ton of marijuana, divided into 40 bales, from a Dorchester, Massachusetts apartment, resulting in Edgar Gonzalez being arraigned on Trafficking charges. Call it a stroke of luck, however...

The Boston Police, along with the Massachusetts State Police and FBI, were executing the Search Warrant a three-decker apartment on Wilcock Street. The marijuana, however, was actually located in an apartment above them that was not a target. When the police arrived on scene, however, Edgar Gonzalez was allegedly seen leaving the building. The police pursued and purportedly tied him to the upstairs apartment whose door was left open.

As a result, the Boston Police relied upon an immigration detainment order by the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement, and in conjunction with his 'behavior in trying to flee', executed a "protective sweep" of the apartment. Within the apartment, Boston Police seized 40 bales of marijuana wrapped in plastic, including scales, a vacuum sealer and shrink wrap.

It is reported, however, that within the apartment, the Boston Police also located paperwork in the names of other men, which could be critical if Gonzalez takes this case to trial. Without any further evidence linking the drugs to Gonzalez, even if it is confirmed that he resided in that apartment, Suffolk County prosecutors will have a battle securing a conviction. Mere Presence of drugs, without more, even if the person knows it is there, is not proof beyond reasonable doubt to convict someone of Trafficking.

Gonzalez was arraigned this past Thursday in the Dorchester Division of the Boston Municipal Court with Trafficking over 2,000 pounds of Marijuana, which carries a minimum-mandatory sentence of 5 to 15 years in state prison. He was held pending trial on $1 million cash bail.

Continue reading "Boston Police Net One of Largest Drug Busts in City History, Defense Case Appears Strong" »

June 5, 2010

19 Year Old Indicted for August 2009 Murder at Dorchester's YMCA

A Suffolk County Grand Jury this past week returned indictments of Murder against Sherman Badgett, 19, related to the shooting death of Aaron Brown at the YMCA in Dorchester last August.

Badgett is alleged to have shot Aaron Brown, 19 at the time, in the head outside a teen dance at the Dorchester YMCA on Washington Street. He was indicted for Murder and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, and is currently held without bail.

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June 4, 2010

East Boston Court Prisoner Escapes from Custody Still Sought by Boston Police

Stephen Woodard, 20, was in the East Boston Division of the Boston Municipal Court this past week answering criminal charges of Armed Robbery and Drug Charges. In custody, Woodard was in custody and was to be transported by the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department to jail pending his criminal case.

Woodard, however, managed to escape from the Suffolk County Sherriff's jail van, steal a Department of Public Works vehicle that was parked with the keys inside, and get away. Although he was chased through Chelsea, Revere, Everett and Malden, Woodard managed to abandon the DPW vehicle and escape. He is still being sought...

After having been arraigned in Charlestown District Court on Armed Robbery charges for allegedly robbing a man at knifepoint in Charlestown, Woodard was brought to the East Boston Court because he had committed the Armed Robbery while he was out on bail on unrelated Drug Crimes charges.

Typically, when prisoners are transferred from courts to the Sherriffs Department's custody, they are handcuffed and leg-shackled prior to being taken by the Sherriffs Department's officers. The van they are to be transported in is typically loaded in a closed garage within the courthouse to prevent any possibility of escape. Not surprisingly, the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office nor the Suffolk County Sherriff's Department has not disclosed any information related to the circumstances of Woodard's escape, nor whether the Sherriff's Department failed to follow protocol in the transporting him.

Continue reading "East Boston Court Prisoner Escapes from Custody Still Sought by Boston Police" »

June 3, 2010

Former State Senator Wilkerson Plead Guilty to Attempted Extortion in Boston's Federal Court

Wilkerson.jpgDiane Wilkerson, the former State Senator from Roxbury, Massachusetts, appeared in Boston's Federal Court today and pled Guilty to 8 counts of Attempted Extortion.

Wilkerson was charged with Attempted Extortion for allegedly taking thousands of dollars in bribes. She was initially charged under a 32 count indictment, which also included Conspiracy to Extort Cash, Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud. 24 of those indictments were dismissed by Federal prosecutors in exchange for her guilty plea to the 8 counts of Attempted Extortion.

The substance of the criminal indictments on the extortion charges included taking bribes totaling $23,500 to secure a liquor license for a nightclub, as well as promising to influence legislation relative to commercial development in her district of Roxbury. Federal prosecutors also alleged that Wilkerson accepted $23,500 from a Roxbury businessman, Ronald Wilburn. Wilburn, however, was cooperating with the FBI and assisted in procuring surveillance video of Wilkerson stuffing cash into her bra.Wilkerson_stuffing.jpg

Notably, facing criminal charges was nothing new to the former State Senator. In 1997, Wilkerson pled guilty for failing to file tax returns. In 1998, she violated her probation and she was ordered to a halfway house for 30 days. Also in 1998, Wilkerson was found in violation of campaign finance laws.

Although the maximum penalty for Attempted Extortion in Massachusetts State Courts is up to 15 years in state prison, under Federal Law, each Attempted Extortion Charge carries up to 20 years, as well as a $250,000 fine. As a result of Wilkerson's change of plea and conviction, Federal prosecutors are recommending a sentence of 4 years in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release and a fine of $23,500. U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock has scheduled Wilkerson's sentencing hearing for September 20, 2010.

Continue reading "Former State Senator Wilkerson Plead Guilty to Attempted Extortion in Boston's Federal Court" »

June 2, 2010

Boston Police Initiates Ridiculous Anti-Crime Strategy

boston_police_officer_loads_bean_ball_gun_800x600.jpgEarlier this week, Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis released a flier throughout various communities in the City of Boston showing photos of 10 unidentified young men the police allege belong to a street gang. I'm not going to qualify the flier by posting it on this Blog, but it looks like a mug shot composite. The purpose in releasing the photos of these men, they police say, is to "shame them" for being gang members and to make them "outcasts" in their neighborhood.

Although the Boston Police Commissioner then qualified the Department's objectives by clarifying that the men depicted in the photographs were not currently facing any criminal charges or had outstanding warrants, he stated that they were "absolutely high on [the Boston Police Department's] list of targets". Well, if they haven't committed a crime and they're not currently wanted for a crime, then tell us: why are they a high priority target??? The objective, apparently, is to receive information from the public on these men and charge them with whatever criminal activity gained from any tips.

Interestingly enough, I represented two of the men depicted in the photograph released by the Boston Police Department. One of the men had no prior criminal history and pled guilty to Assault & Battery with a Dangerous Weapon and Intimidation of a Witness; the other was charged with Armed Robbery and was found Not Guilty after trial (and this man had no prior criminal convictions). ...hardly the bios of reputed gang members who are high on the Boston Police target list. Having met these 2 kids and gotten to know them over the course of a year, I find it unbelievable that these two are among the top ten most reputed gang members in the City of Boston.

And one might wonder, well, how does the Boston Police Department know that these individuals are, in fact, gang members? I would submit that they really don't. That is a question myself and other criminal defense lawyers have repeatedly asked in almost every case where the issue arises. Often, I never receive a straight answer other than "internal intelligence". When I do receive any answer of purported substance, it usually comes in the form of "the defendant has been observed hanging out on X Street..." Believe it or not, 'hanging out' might mean literally sitting on the steps outside of his residence!

In reality, in most cases where a prosecutor has alleged my client is a gang member of "X Street Gang", it turns out he actually lives on X Street! So if someone lives on X Street, then that person is a gang member and should be the target of a public shame campaign? Give me a break...

Whatever happened to the fundamental canon of our Constitution, presumed innocent until proven guilty? Doesn't this shame campaign give the improper suggestion that these individuals are criminals? This is particularly disheartening where, in fact, the police readily admit they are not charged with any crimes, let alone the targets of any pending criminal investigation?

What are then the limits of such campaigns? Should the police then target all the residents of a community as 'prone to criminal activity'? Already, police love to describe certain sections of Boston as 'high crime areas' - meaning that if you live in such a 'high crime area', that will serve as a factor justifying your being stopped and arrested for a crime.

Rather than focus the Boston Police Department's resources in photoshop campaigns, perhaps they should provide their officers Continuing Education Courses in the area of Constitutional Law so citizens' rights aren't violated simply for walking down the street...doing so might actually help the Boston Police Department's 'public relations' and confidence in them from those communities in which there is an increased rate of crime. Just a thought...

Continue reading "Boston Police Initiates Ridiculous Anti-Crime Strategy" »

June 1, 2010

Two Boston Men Arraigned for Murder of 14 Year Old Youth in Dorchester

Cristostomo Lopes, 20, and Joshua Fernandes, 16, were arraigned this morning in the Dorchester Division of the Boston Municipal Court in connection with the Sunday Murder of 14 year old Nicholas Fomby-Davis.

At their arraignment, Suffolk County prosecutors alleged that Lopes and Fernandes both jumped Fomby-Davis on Bowdoin Street as he rode his motor scooter. Once off the scooter, prosecutors allege that Lopes held Fomby-Davis while Fernandes fired 3 shots at him, one striking him in the chest.

Immediately following the shooting, a Boston Police Officer happened to be driving home and saw Lopes and Fernandes crouching between cars. The two were eventually apprehended after a chase by Boston Police Officers, and a .25 caliber gun believed to be the murder weapon was found underneath the car where Fernandes was allegedly seen kneeling beside.

Both Lopes and Fernandes were ordered held without bail on charges including Murder, and various Gun Charges. Fernandes, who is only 16, is going to be tried as an adult.

Continue reading "Two Boston Men Arraigned for Murder of 14 Year Old Youth in Dorchester" »