Recently in Federal Crimes Category

Kate Corbett a chemist at the same state laboratory as Annie Dookhan was fired for falsifying her educational background

November 26, 2013,

Kate Corbett claimed to have a degree from Merrimack College in chemistry, her degree was actually in sociology. She claims that she was under the impression she had taken enough chemistry classes to also qualify for a chemistry degree. Although she is not accused of having falsified testing results it is clear that as early as August of this year she testified in establishing herself as an expert that she did have a bachelors in chemistry.

Those defendants who were convicted of a drug offense including drug trafficking and possession with Kate Corbett as the testifying chemist have grounds to file a motion for new trial based on misleading testimony related to her background.

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Recent Supreme Judicial Court(SJC) decisions help clarify the new law which decriminalizes possession of an ounce or less of marijuana

April 6, 2013,

The new law which makes it legal to possess an ounce or less of marijuana for personal use has left many confused as to what is legal when it comes to possessing or using marijuana. Possession of any amount of marijuana with the intent to distribute is still a crime. Growing marijuana in any amount is still a crime. Possession of drug paraphernalia, such as a pipe, grinder or any other type of smoking device when possessed with marijuana is still a crime.

The supreme judicial Court has recently decided a some cases which help clarify some gray areas that existed.

The first case involved the police searching the backpack of a young man after witnessing him share a marijuana joint with others in public. The District Attorney's Office argued that the police had the right to search the backpack without a warrant based on their observations of him sharing marijuana with others. The Supreme Court ruled the search of the backpack without a warrant was illegal. The ruling makes it clear that sharing a joint with others is not considered distribution of marijuana and that such an offense is merely a civil infraction which does not open the door for the police to search a person or his property further. So this means that police are limited in their ability to search when encountering a civil marijuana infraction. As a side note approximately 23 grams of marijuana was found in the backpack which is less than an ounce, but the marijuana was packaged in ten small baggies leading the police to charge possession with the intent distribute. Evidence used by police to prove intent to distribute is usually the amount of drugs, manner in which it is packaged, large amounts of currency or cell phones/beepers, scales, baggies or any other evidence of distribution.

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State drug lab closed due to mishandling of evidence and potential cover-up

September 5, 2012,

A state drug lab responsible for testing illegal drugs seized from defendant's was closed because of mishandling of evidence by chemists.

Thousands of cases both pending and closed can be affected by this misconduct. It appears at least one chemist falsified data related to drug analysis and testing which calls into question the results of drug tests related to thousands of cases.

Defendants convicted and serving sentences for drug related cases have reason to file motions to vacate and reopen their cases. All types of cases involving drugs such as heroin, cocaine, as well as many other street drugs may have been compromised because of this breach.

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Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled today the distribution of marijuana can involve less than an ounce

February 13, 2012,

Possession of less than an ounce of marijuana in Massachusetts for personal use has been decriminalized since 2008. To possess less than an ounce of marijuana for personal use is now a civil offense and would subject you to $100 fine.

Possession with the intent to distribute marijuana or the sale of marijuana is still considered illegal. Just today the Supreme Court of Massachusetts decided a case which involve less than an ounce of marijuana in relation to a charge of possession with intent to distribute. The accused in this case was found to be in possession of a few baggies of marijuana totaling less than 6 grams. A District Court judge dismissed the case based on arguments that the decriminalization of less than an ounce of marijuana also applied to possession with intent distribute less than an ounce of marijuana. Prosecutors appealed the case and now the Supreme Court of Massachusetts has agreed with the Commonwealth in that possession with intent to distribute marijuana no matter what the amount is still a criminal offense.

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66 pounds of cocaine seized in Chelsea two men arrested, another man arrested after 40 pounds of cocaine and 29 pounds of heroin discovered after a traffic stop in Dorchester

October 22, 2011,

On Thursday as a result of an ongoing investigation two men from California were arrested after police discovered 66 pounds of cocaine in their tractor-trailer unit in Chelsea.

The two men arrested in Chelsea were from California and were brought to the Chelsea District Court on Friday. They are each charged with trafficking in cocaine and conspiracy to violate the state's drug laws. Trafficking in this amount of cocaine carries a 15 year mandatory minimum sentence if convicted.

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A native of Mexico was arrested in Boxborough Massachusetts for a sixth offense of operating under the influence of alcohol (OUI) he was also wanted related to an order for removal by immigration since he is here illegally

October 5, 2011,

Eduardo Torres, 48, of Marlboro, was pulled over Saturday morning, September 24, for an expired inspection sticker. The officer noticed to open beer bottles and the smell of alcohol on his breath. After failing field sobriety tests Torres was arrested for being under the influence of alcohol. He has three prior alcohol-related offenses from California and to prior operating under the influence charges in Massachusetts, he was charged with a sixth offense OUI.

Torres was previously ordered deported by immigration and will be handed over to federal authorities after his criminal case is completed. The incident along with others involving illegal immigrants have drawn a lot of publicity to those immigrants who are here illegally and drive without a license or commit criminal offenses. Sheriff's from local communities are using these latest incidents to draw attention to the secure communities program. The secure communities program requires that police run a suspects fingerprints through a database and alert federal officials if it is determined that the suspect is not the US with proper authorization.

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A federal immigration sweep has led to the detention of over 2900 illegal immigrants in the US 62 of which were located in Massachusetts and detained for removal

September 29, 2011,

This took place after a national effort to find and remove illegal immigrants with prior criminal convictions some with multiple criminal convictions. US immigration and customs enforcement better known as ICE conducted a nationwide sweep that lasted seven days which detained immigrants with felony convictions such as: manslaughter attempted murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, drug trafficking, child abuse, sexual crimes and aggravated assault. ICE named this operation crosscheck and said it was the largest of its kind involved over 1900 officers and agents from the 24 field offices with police organizations offering assistance.

19 arrests occurred in Boston, many of those arrested were already considered immigration fugitives in that they had been previously ordered removed from the country but failed to leave, some had been previously deported and had reentered illegally.

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Robbery suspect arrested in Revere after five-hour standoff with police

July 13, 2011,

After a five-hour standoff with Revere, Everett and Malden police as well as FBI and SWAT teams police finally captured Rolando Gala, 29, of Boston. Gala is suspected of being the backstreet bandit responsible for the robbery of the Brookline bank in Malden as well as other robberies that have recently taken place in the area.

Police were attempting to serve an arrest warrant at 68 Dale St. in Revere when the suspect refused to come out of the home claiming to be armed. The Revere SWAT team eventually entered the home after a five-hour standoff in which they tried to convince Gala to come out of the house peacefully.

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Woman held on $250,000 cash bail in East Boston District Court on cocaine trafficking charges after caught with over 1kilo of cocaine at Boston Logan airport

March 28, 2011,

Karen Morla Ramos, 22, flew into Boston from the Dominican Republic on a JetBlue flight early Sunday morning. U.S. Customs service and border protection grew suspicious after questioning her and performed a patdown search of her clothing. Over 1 kilogram of cocaine was discovered in what appeared to be a diaper concealed in her outer clothing.

She was arrested by customs service officers and charged with trafficking in cocaine. It is not unusual for drug traffickers to use children and young adults as mules to conceal drugs and sneak them into the country. The majority of these mules are given little information about the source of the drugs and are usually told that they will be given further instructions upon their arrival.

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Dorchester Man convicted of robbing an armored car

March 2, 2011,

Brian Smith, 43, pled guilty to two counts of masked armed robbery, one count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury, one count of receiving stolen motor vehicle and weapons charges.

These charges relate to a 2004 daylight robbery of an armored car that was like a scene out of the movie "The Town"; the robbery occurred in Quincy where the armored car driver was left severely wounded. Smith admitted to helping two other men, Dennis Quirk, 42, of Roslindale and Martin O'Brien, 43, of Malden in robbing the armored car in front of a citizens Bank on Hancock Street in Quincy in October 2004. The men were armed with AK-47 assault rifles and ambushed the driver of the Loomis Fargo armored truck.

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Investigation into Heroin, cocaine and marijuana stolen from Boston police drug lab still has no leads after three years

February 10, 2011,

The FBI and Boston police have no leads as to who stole hundreds of bags of drugs from a Boston police evidence warehouse in Hyde Park over three years ago. Drugs held as evidence in over 265 criminal cases ranging from heroin, cocaine, marijuana and prescription medication went missing without a trace over three years ago. The investigation has included 25 to 30 investigators including FBI agents who have been unable to tie any physical evidence of the crime to any suspect.

Most of the drugs taken were oxycodone. The drugs that were stolen mostly came from criminal cases investigated between 1991 and 1997. It is the older unresolved drug cases which require that the police hold on to the evidence that is causing a backlog of drug evidence in the Hyde Park depository. The police warehouse now holds more than 45,000 cases of drug evidence that is at least 10 years old and officials want to destroy. Without the criminal case being closed the destruction of evidence may lead to the cases being dismissed if challenged by the defendant.

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4 Kilos of Heroin found in Lawrence Apartment, 6 people arrested

February 3, 2011,

A joint task force consisting of both state and federal agents raided a lawrence apartment on Union street Wednesday night and discovered over $3.2 Million dollars of Heroin (street value), or 4 kilos.

The bust came after an investigation which began in New Bedford. All the participants will be charged with Trafficking in Heroin and are set to be arraigned in Lawrence District Court. The 6 arrested are: Victor Santana, 32, of Lawrence; Jose Cruz Pizarro, 30, of Connecticut; Francisco Rosado Rivera, 40, of Lawrence; Elvis Ruiz Guerrero, 36, of Boston; Oveido Lopez, 23, of Lawrence; and Luis Gonzalez, 18, of Lawrence

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Man in Abington charged criminally for clearing snow with bombs

January 21, 2011,

A man in Abington used homemade bombs to blow up snowbanks to avoid having to shovel. The Massachusetts State police bomb squad responded and found Leo Powers, 23, to be in possession of powder which was tested and confirmed to be some type of explosive chemical. Powers is charged with threats to commit a crime and possession of an incendiary device.

Powers has a firearm license which Abington police chief David Majenski immediately suspended. He was ordered to surrender all his weapons to the police which were a shotgun and pistol.

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Bank robbery in Burlington Massachusetts

January 6, 2011,

Central bank Burlington was robbed yesterday at 9:34 AM the suspect entered the bank and presented the teller a note threatening deadly force if money was not handed over. The EI believes that this bank robbery may be linked to other bank robberies committed since December 15 in Lynnfield, Malden, Reading, Salem and Westford.

The suspect is described as a 6 foot black male facial hair and wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, he fled the scene on foot. It appears he was able to escape with an undisclosed amount of money. The other bank robberies were similar nature in that threats against bank employees were made.

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Chelsea clerk magistrate sentenced in Massachusetts federal court to 2 years in jail for receiving oral sex from 2 accused prostitutes in exchange for help in getting rid of their cases

December 17, 2010,

A former clerk magistrate of the Chelsea district court was sentenced in federal court yesterday to two years in jail for deprivation of civil rights. The case involved two women who faced criminal charges in Chelsea court and promises by 43 year old Burke, the magistrate, to help dismiss their cases in return for oral sex. The women gave him oral sex in the courthouse, one woman being removed by Burke from custody to do so.

Federal charges were brought against Burke rather than state charges, the decision to charge someone federally or in the state courts is made by each individual prosecutor's office. Usually the state and federal prosecutors work in conjunction with each other and allowing either one or the other to pursue a case rather than both at the same time. Federal charges for deprivation of civil rights come about when a person in a position of public authority abuses that position violating another's rights. This type of charge is not as common as federal conspiracy to violate drug laws, or other more common federal crimes.

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