December 2012 Archives

December 25, 2012

Passenger Entering Logan Arrested for Drug Trafficking After Cocaine Found in Wheelchair


A man entering attempting to enter the country through Boston's Logan Airport was arrested for Massachusetts Drug Crimes Charges after 4 kilo's of cocaine were found in his wheelchair.

According to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, the passenger had a cast on his leg and was in a wheelchair, but airport security suspected he did not need the wheelchair for any medical reason. Security x-rayed the wheelchair and also drilled a hole in one of the chair's tire, revealing approximately 4 kilograms of cocaine hidden in the tires and frame of the wheelchair.

Prosecutors also reported that the man was taken to Whidden Memorial Hospital and his leg with the cast was x-rayed. Doctors then told police that the man allegedly did not need a cast.

Drug Trafficking of 200 grams in Massachusetts or more of Cocaine is punishable with commitment to state prison for a term of not less than 15 years and up to 20 years.

The defendant, Emmanuelli Rojas-Moraza, of Puerto Rico, was arraigned last Friday in East Boston District Court and was held on $45,000 bail.

Continue reading "Passenger Entering Logan Arrested for Drug Trafficking After Cocaine Found in Wheelchair" »

December 23, 2012

Massachusetts Supreme Court Upholds Murder Dismissal of Juvenile Lynn Defendant


In a recent case, the Supreme Judicial Court upheld the dismissal of a juvenile defendant's Murder dismissal, but also establishing new parameters in murder cases involving juvenile defendants who are to be tried as adults.

In the case of Commonwealth v. Javon Walczak, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court considered whether the trial court properly dismissed an indictment against the juvenile defendant who was charged with Second Degree Murder. The prosecution had presented evidence that the defendant, who was 16 at the time, stabbed the victim (Rene Valdez) when the victim and an accomplice tried to rob him.

Following the defendant's arraignment in the Superior Court, a judge dismissed the indictment because the Commonwealth failed to present sufficient evidence to the grand jury establishing the offense of second degree murder.

Although the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reversed the trial judge's findings and held that there was, in fact, probable cause for the charge of second degree murder, the court also held that the grand jury should have been instructed by the prosecution on the elements of murder, as well as the legal significance of mitigating circumstances raised by the evidence.

The Court specifically held that:

"In any case where the Commonwealth seeks to indict a juvenile for murder, the grand jury must be properly instructed by the prosecutor on the elements of murder, and if there are mitigating circumstances and defenses...raised by the evidence, the grand jury must be instructed as to that as well."

The basis for the court's ruling is that, unlike other crimes, a murder indictment against a juvenile adds significant other consequences, including the case being tried in the superior court, whereas for any other crime he would be tried in the juvenile court.

Presently, the Massachusetts criminal justice system treats juvenile defendants in one of three ways:

If a juvenile is charged by way of a complaint, he may be committed to the Department of Youth Services until the age of 18;

If a juvenile is charged by way of an indictment, he may be classified as a youthful offender and face more severe penalties than a juvenile tried as a delinquent, including the sentence that would be applicable to an adult defendant charged with the same crime;

In circumstances where the juvenile is charged with murder, however, both of these above are inapplicable because the juvenile court does not have jurisdiction over a person between the ages of 14 and 17 and the juvenile defendant indicted for murder must be tried according to the same criminal proceedings as if he were an adult.

For these reasons, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that the grand jury must be presented with the elements of the crime and be apprised of any mitigating circumstances to ensure that the integrity of the grand jury process is maintained.

Continue reading "Massachusetts Supreme Court Upholds Murder Dismissal of Juvenile Lynn Defendant" »

December 20, 2012

Boston Man Charged with Human Trafficking for Sexual Servitude


Boston Police arrested a Dorchester man earlier this week for Massachusetts Sex Crimes Charges.

The defendant, who was arraigned in the Dorchester Division of the Boston Municipal Court, was arraigned on sex crimes charges including Human Trafficking for Sexual Servitude and Deriving Support from a Prostitute.

According to the Boston Police Department and the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, police stopped a car for routine civil motor vehicle infractions. A woman passenger in the car who appeared to police to be nervous, was questioned and told police that she had been subjected to prostitution by the defendant. According to the woman, she was forced to buy clothes and take photographs that were posted on various websites advertising escort services.

The defendant, who was held on $75,000 bail, was also reportedly a Level 3 Sex Offender who was previously convicted of Aggravated Rape Charges involving two women when he was 17.

The Massachusetts Sex Crime of Human Trafficking for Sexual Servitude is the act of knowingly subjecting, by any means, another person to engage in commercial sexual activity, sexually explicit performance, or for the production of unlawful pornography.

A conviction for the sex crime of Human Trafficking for Sexual Servitude is punishable by commitment to state prison for not less than 5 years and up to 20 years; and also subjects the defendant to Sex Offender Registration.

Continue reading "Boston Man Charged with Human Trafficking for Sexual Servitude" »

December 12, 2012

Wakefield Man Charged with Over 100 Sexual Assault Charges Against 13 Children


A 49 year old Wakefield man was arrested earlier this month on 100 counts of Massachusetts Sex Crimes Charges for allegedly raping and sexually abusing 13 children ranging in age from 8 days to 3.5 years old.

The defendant, identified as John Burbine, was charged with several sex offenses including Aggravated Rape of a Child, Indecent Assault & Battery on a Child, Unlawful Possession of Child Pornography; and Dissemination of Obscene Material.

According to the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office, the defendant had access to the child victims through the Waterfall Education Center, a child care center that was reportedly run by his wife, Marian Burbine. Middlesex County prosecutors have alleged that the defendant helped his wife at the daycare used that position to sexually abuse the children at the daycare center, which was allegedly not licensed.

Following his arrest on these sex crimes charges, police allegedly seized evidence that the defendant videotaped himself raping and sexually abusing the victims. After his arraignment in Malden District Court, the defendant was held without bail under the Massachusetts Dangerousness statute.

The defendant's wife, Marian Burbine, was also charged in connection with this incident with Reckless Endangerment of a Child.

Continue reading "Wakefield Man Charged with Over 100 Sexual Assault Charges Against 13 Children" »

December 10, 2012

Lowell Man Charged with Beating 2 Year Old Child


A Lowell man was charged last week with several counts of Massachusetts Violent Crimes Charges for allegedly beating and causing serious injuries to his girlfriend's 2 year old daughter.

The defendant, Bunthang Ponn, of Lowell, was arraigned in Lowell District Court last Friday and charged with several counts of Aggravated Assault & Battery on a Child with Serious Injury and Intimidation of a Witness.

According to the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office, the defendant allegedly assaulted his girlfriend's 2 year old daughter, breaking her back and ribs. At his arraignment, prosecutors represented that the child may also have suffered irreparable brain damage from a massive stroke.

Speaking with police, the defendant denied having been left alone with the child but did allegedly admit to having baby-sat the girl. Prosecutors alleged that the defendant also stated to his girlfriend that the child had fallen out of a high chair and began to shake.

Aggravated Assault & Battery with Serious Injury is defined as the intentional touching, however slight, that is harmful or offensive and committed without justification and which results in serious bodily injury. Under Massachusetts criminal laws, "serious bodily injury" is defined as injury that results in permanent disfigurement, loss or impairment of a bodily function or organ, or a substantial risk of death.

Following his arraignment in Lowell District Court, the defendant was ordered held on $500,000 bail.

Continue reading "Lowell Man Charged with Beating 2 Year Old Child" »

December 9, 2012

Massachusetts Court Rules Search of Drug Dealers Phone After Arrest Valid


The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court last week ruled that police officers are not required to obtain a search warrant before they can search an arrestee's cell phone call list following an arrest.

In the case of Commonwealth v. Demetrius A. Phifer, the state's highest court rules that a search of a drug dealer's cell phone call list was not a constitutional violation because it was a limited search and they had probable cause to believe the recent call list would reveal evidence relating to the crime for which he was arrested.

The defendant in this case was arrested after Boston Police allegedly saw him get into a car with a known drug use and engage in actions they believed was a drug transaction. After the police pulled his car over, they got his cell number and checked it against the cellphone they had seized from the buyer and determined the number was in the other's call list.

This search, the court ruled, was a lawful search incident to arrest.

Notably, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court left undecided and did not go as far to making a bright-line rule that a search of a cell phone incident to arrest is valid under all circumstances; and if so, to what extent.

In limiting its decision, the court also did not go as far as extending this ruling to other areas of cell phone contents, such as texts and e-mails.

The court's decision, unfortunately, could lead to further constitutional violations by police and law enforcement in general. With vague parameters, police will undoubtedly now further exploit the constitutional limits of this case and certainly try to extend the scope of what is permissible to other areas.

Practically speaking, there is no need for this ruling, as it just gives the police unfettered authority to search for evidence without restrictions. The alternative, which would be requiring police to obtain a warrant before conducting a cell phone search, would ensure that police have the requisite probable cause to conduct such a search.

Further, there would be no harm in requiring police to get a warrant. Arguably, the person is already arrested and the cell phone is already in evidence so there is no danger that the contents on the phone might be damaged or destroyed. By requiring a warrant to be obtained, all citizens' constitutional rights would be fully protected.

Notably, in reaching its decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court relied, in part, on a California case which held that "...although an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy is diminished concerning his or her physical person when subject to a lawful arrested and taken into custody, the same may not necessarily be true with respect to the privacy of the myriad types of information stored in a cellular telephone that he or she is carrying at the time of arrest."

The reality, however, is that cell phones today are not the cell phones of even 5 years ago. Where most people today now store very personal and highly information on the phones (credit card info., bank accounts, personal contacts and communications, etc. etc.), the public today does, in fact, perceive their cell phone and the data within to be very personal and confidential, not meant for the public. We do, therefore, have a tremendous expectation of privacy in these devices and the court's ruling here, unfortunately, contradicts this reality.


Continue reading "Massachusetts Court Rules Search of Drug Dealers Phone After Arrest Valid" »

December 5, 2012

Cape Cod Man Charged with Rape of a Child


A Cape Cod man was recently arrested and charged with several Massachusetts Sex Crimes Charges for allegedly sexually assault a 9 year old girl.

The defendant, a chiropractor from Hyannis, Massachusetts, was arraigned in Barnstable District Court this past Monday on sex crimes charges including Rape of a Child and Indecent Assault & Battery on a Child Under 14.

According to county prosecutors, the defendant, 58 years old, alleged assaulted the 9 year old at a home in Yarmouth in November. It is alleged that the man's girlfriend was watching the child but was in another room at the time.

Prosecutors alleged that the alleged sexual assault came to light when the child reportedly told her mother that the man touched her on her chest and beneath her underwear.

The Massachusetts Sex Crime of Rape of a Child is punishable with imprisonment for any term of year up to life. As with all sex crimes, a conviction for this offense would subject the defendant to Sex Offender Registration, and also require him to submit his DNA to the state's DNA database.

Although the public instinctively attributes 100% credibility to the victim in a child rape case, the statistics in these types of cases are alarming in that a percentage of cases are often 'unfounded'.

There are not many studies or statistics that precisely attribute a percentage of false allegations of rape, though the FBI over the years has set 8% - 15% as the average rate of false accusations. Another independent study that was conducted using data between 1978 and 1987 found that 41% of all forcible rape complaints were false; and another study conducted in the midwest over a 3 year period found that approximately 50% of rape complaints were false.

Unfortunately, despite the statistics and even if sex crimes cases get dropped, the effect on the person's life is everlasting. The person will inevitably suffer a damaged reputation between family, friends, and business relations. Even if a person was truly falsely accused and the prosecutor acknowledged as such and dropped the case, the defendant's reputation may have been harmed beyond repair. This is so because of the perception that the person's case was dropped because the victim was perhaps pressured; or the defendant had a good lawyer, etc.

Guilty or Not Guilty, the effects of being charged with a Massachusetts Sex Crime are devastating...

Continue reading "Cape Cod Man Charged with Rape of a Child" »