A man who worked as a substance abuse counselor was charged in Cambridge District Court this past week on Massachusetts Theft Crimes Charges for allegedly attempting to scam clients by promising a reduction in their criminal charges in exchange for a “court fee”.
The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office alleges that Skinner, in his role as a drug counselor, tried to persuade client he was counseling to pay him a hefty “court fee”, and that he, in exchange would arrange so that their criminal charges would be reduced. He would allegedly tell client that he had connections to the court’s Probation Department and that the charges would be reduced for a fee of $2,750.
This month, prosecutors allege that he attempted to obtain this ridiculous ‘court fee’ from a current client. The client, however, along with his parents, reported him to the Massachusetts State Police, who then arranged a sting operation to confirm the allegations. Thereafter, an undercover state trooper, posing as the client’s mother, allegedly met with Skinner and provided him with the requested $2,750. Once the money was exchanged, Skinner allegedly stated that he had already taken care of the charges.
In reality, the Probation Department really has no leverage, aside from making a strong recommendation, to have anyone’s charges reduced or dismissed. Ultimately, any decision to reduce someone’s charges must either come from the District Attorney’s Office, or upon motion by the defendant directly to the Judge who will ultimately decide whether or not the charges should and/or can be reduced.
The Massachusetts Theft Crime of Larceny from the Person Over $250 is a felony which carries a potential penalty of up to 5 years in state prison.
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