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Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network.
To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 206-1942.

Posted On: March 28, 2012

DID PRESIDENT OBAMA’S UNCLE GET SPECIAL TREATMENT FOR HIS FIRST OUI CASE?

...So, I was talking with Dan Rea last night on WBZ, radio 1030 a.m. No, I was not a scheduled guest this time. I was simply a caller. I really could not help it. The subject matter, and the discussion of it, drew me out.

Mr. Rea and his callers were discussing the case of Onyango Obama, hereinafter, the “Defendant”. He is the half-brother of the president’s late father. It seems he was arrested in Framingham last August for Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol and associated crimes. Law enforcement claimed Obama made a rolling stop at a stop sign and nearly caused his cruiser to crash into the Defendant’s SUV. Then, the Defendant showed the poor judgment of agreeing to blow on the breathalyzer, which resulted in a finding of .14 blood alcohol. The legal limit for driving is .08 in the Commonwealth.

On Tuesday morning, the Defendant resolved the criminal matter by admitting that there were sufficient facts to find him guilty and received a Continuance Without A Finding. By agreeing to this result, the Defendant avoids pleading guilty to drunk driving and the charge will be dismissed, if he stays out of trouble for one year. There are various other incidental penalties, including the loss of his driver’s license for 45 days and he must $1,000 in fines and fees.

“By admitting to sufficient facts today to operating under the influence and failure to yield at an intersection, the defendant has admitted responsibility for the essence of the crime he committed and has now been held accountable for his actions,” District Attorney Gerry Leone said in a statement.

Of course, this OUI matter brought other problems to the Defendant’s doorstep. For example, it caught the attention of immigration investigators who claim he violated a 1992 order to return to Kenya.

You see, the Defendant has been in the United States since 1963 when he came to Massachusetts on a student visa from Kenya. He attended to Buckingham Browne & Nichols in Cambridge at the time. Upon graduation, he went to Boston State College according to his lawyer. However, upon that graduation, the Defendant apparently did not file the proper paperwork to remain in the United States legally. He was, therefore, here illegally according to the government. The government further indicates that he is still here illegally and has simply ignored the Deportation Order.

This case is still before the immigration court.

“This proceeding today should have little, if any, impact on his immigration status,” the Defendant’s attorney told reporters yesterday.

Ironically, the Defendant works a liquor store in Framingham.

So, what was the big discussion on the radio which drew me in? Well, there were claims of special treatment being thrown around concerning the above results in the OUI case.

Was the Defendant given special treatment because of his relationship with the president?

Attorney Sam’s Take On First Time Drunk Driving Cases

The short answers are “no” and…..”I don’t know”.

I am a Boston criminal lawyer, not a Boston immigration attorney. So, while I could put you in touch with a very talented colleague who specializes in that work, it is not my specialty.

It is easy for people to assume that someone is getting special treatment when they know “someone” and seem to be getting a “sweetheart deal”. However, in terms of a first time drunk driving defendant, there is nothing to indicate special treatment.

There is a special statute which covers Massachusetts drunk driving criminal charges. There are sentences therein for first time offenders on up.

As a first time OUI offender, the Defendant received what just about any first time offender would get absent something special about the case. For example, if the Defendant had killed someone it would have been much more serious and the charge would have been vehicular homicide. If he had hit someone or caused property damage and took off, it would have been “Leaving The Scene”.

The fact that what he blew in the breathalyzer was rather high does not change this. He is still eligible for the same statutory treatment.

“Well, isn’t the situation made worse because he is in the country illegally?”

Well, it would seem that whether he is here illegally is currently being litigated in Immigration Court. Further, the state criminal courts do not generally get involved with that issue.

“So, it would appear he only loses his license for a short period of time”.

Actually, shorter than that. While the statute imposes the loss of license, that matter is thereafter overseen by the Registry of Motor Vehicles. The fact is, after a couple of days, the Defendant can apply for a “Cinderella License” to enable him to drive back and forth to work. In these circumstances, this is routinely given.



For the original story upon which this blog is based, please go to http://boston.cbslocal.com/2012/03/27/obamas-uncle-back-in-framingham-court-on-drunk-driving-charge/