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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 4, 2013

ANOTHER PACKAGE OF ILLEGAL DRUGS IS DELIVERED IN PLYMOUTH. WHO GETS CHARGED?

We have recently discussed instances where people were arrested for drug trafficking and possession because the package containing some sinister compound was delivered to them and they accepted it.

I believe the last such example was the week of Valentine’s Day when someone received a cute little teddy bear with a not-so-cute amount of marihuana inside.

Well, today’s story shows kind of a flip side of that which suggests the word “arbitrary” associated with law enforcement.

Plymouth’s Maryangela Tobin (hereinafter, the “Plaintiff”) received a package that she thought was very nice. At first. The package originally appeared to be full of fun stuff for her young daughter. It was, after all, the girl’s birthday.

“There were candles, pixie sticks and peppermint, and something we thought was potpourri,” she said.

Guess what? It was not really potpourri! Apparently, the vacuum packed bags beneath contained several pounds of marijuana.

The Plaintiff apparently called the police and they took custody of the package. They also called FedEx to warn them that the Plaintiff could be at risk. Sure enough, about an hour later, a gentleman appeared knocking at the Plaintiff’s front door, looking for the package. There were two other men sitting in a vehicle in the driveway.

The Plaintiff says that FedEx, in its wisdom, actually gave away her address, leading the suspected drug dealers to her house.

“I knew it was the person looking for the package, I was very nervous.” The Plaintiff explains that she walked to the front door and bolted it, slamming the front door in the process while she says the man repeatedly asked if FedEx had picked up the package.

Actually, it was worse. Law enforcement had it.

As far as the Plaintiff is concerned, the damage has already been done. She is concerned that whoever wanted the drugs knows where she lives. “I feel like the safety of my daughters and myself was invaded and it makes things complicated. If you’ve ever been in a position of being so scared in your home and having something like that happen. I walk into my house first every time, my kids don’t,” she said.

The Plaintiff’s lawsuit alleges that Federal Express disclosed the address “despite explicit Police advisory against such disclosures” and violated Massachusetts privacy laws.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Mail Delivery Of Drugs

It seems like you cannot win, doesn’t it?

If you accept the package and keep it…you are going to be arrested. If you do the allegedly “right thing” and alert law enforcement, you put yourself in danger. No good deed goes unpunished.


“But, Sam, you said something about arbitrary enforcement of criminal laws before.”

Yes I did. This package, unlike in the stories we have discussed previously, was not detected by drug-sniffing canines or sensitive human noses. Therefore, when the Plaintiff accepted the package, she was not placed under arrest.

But, of course, we now know that the packaged did contain a great deal of marihuana. The Plaintiff, however, has disavowed it, getting rid of it at the first opportunity. The defendants in the cases discussed previously did not have the opportunity to do so.

I would imagine that, in those cases, prosecutors would argue that nobody would simply send a package containing drugs to someone who was not expecting it. After all, those drugs are worth a lot of money.

But here…as far as law enforcement is accepting…they did!..

Nobody, after all, would just blindly accept a package they did not expect which “just happened” to have drugs in it.

But here…as far as law enforcement is accepting…she did!.

It would appear that, if law enforcement does not know that the package contains drugs before it is delivered, it does not count. I guess it is the criminal justice version of if a tree falls down in a forest and nobody is around to hear it…does it make a noise.

Apparently it doesn’t.


For the original story upon which this blog was based, please go to http://boston.cbslocal.com/2013/02/28/plymouth-mom-sues-fedex-after-suspected-drug-dealers-go-to-her-home/