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) 492 3000.

North Of Boston Drug Bust Nets Over 500 Pounds Of Marihuana and $200,000 from Interstate Conspiracy

You’ve heard of Costco, haven’t you? It is a very popular chain of stores that specializes in cost-cutting by purchasing in volume. You know, why buy one box of napkins when you can by 80 and get a bargain in the process? It looks like some Boston-area entrepreneurs took the idea alittle too far this week. And, in case you are wondering, no, one cannot retain attorneys in bulk…although two North Shore gentlemen may wish one could.

It was in the Costco parking lot on Route 1. It was Wednesday at noon. And it was, according to law enforcement, more than 500 pounds of marijuana that was recovered.

How much is 500 pounds? Well, you know that new law that says it is no longer a crime to have a “small amount” of marihuana for your own use? Well, this would be over 8,000 x that amount.

Probably not a simple error in measurement.

The Massachusetts State Police believes that the operation was a large-scale narcotics delivery in Danvers.

The troopers set up surveillance in the parking lot in connection with an ongoing investigation. According to the officers, Brian T., 42 of Revere (“Defendant Greeter”) arrived in a rented truck as Phillip W., 37, of Saugus (“Defendant Lookout”) acted as the lookout. Then, occupants of a tractor-trailer with Indiana license plates met with Defendant Greeter.

Troopers say they watched the men and suspected that they were offloading pallets with marijuana from the tractor-trailer onto the rental truck. Police teams followed the rental truck and the tractor-trailer as both vehicles headed in different directions.
Police arrested Defendants Greeter and Lookout, along with another gentleman, in Peabody, where further investigation revealed the pallets had been offloaded. Officials said they seized about 543 pounds of marijuana.

Meanwhile, another team of troopers followed the tractor-trailer to Route 128, stopping it just before the Massachusetts Turnpike. There, troopers arrested the two Indianapolis residents and found approximately $200,000 inside the truck.

The arrestees pleaded “not guilty” at arraignment yesterday. They are charged with trafficking Class D marijuana over 200 pounds and conspiracy to violate drug laws. Bail was set at $250,000 for each defendant, and their cases were continued until June 18 for a status hearing.

If convicted, the men face a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison, with a minimum mandatory term of three years.

Attorney Sam’s take:

Question Number 1: What’s worse than facing these charges in your local District Court?

Answer: Facing them in Superior Court.

You may be sure that these gentlemen are heading there as we speak. What generally happens in such cases is that, after the arrest, the defendants are brought into the local district court where they are arraigned. Bail is dealt with at the arraignment and the prosecutor announces that their office is determining whether to indict the case.

In a case such as this, they are almost sure to indict the case. Were they to prosecute the case in district court, they would be severely limited as to how much time could be given to each defendant for each case. Usually, in district court, the second court date is the “Pretrial Conference” date. However, if the Commonwealth is looking to indict, they will ask for time to present their case to the Grand Jury. The matter is then continued to give them the time to do either that or have a probable cause hearing.

Probable Cause hearings in these instances are few and far between and I would expect that the defendants will find themselves indicted quite soon. When that happens, the matter moves up to Superior Court, the defendants are arraigned again, bail is revisited and the case begins again.

Question Number Two: What’s worse than facing these charges, and their potential penalties, in State Superior Court?

Answer: Being prosecuted in both State and Federal Court.
That is what these gentlemen could be facing.

You see, while they possessed the marihuana here in Massachusetts, it would appear that it was brought in from out of state. The interstate transportation of the drugs, not to mention the fact that it was for trafficking purposes, exposes the defendants to federal charges as well as the state charges.

Question Number Three: Isn’t that “Double Jeopardy ?”

Answer: It is not. They are different crimes being prosecuted in different venues, although many of the facts are the same.

Usually in these cases, the federal and state authorities discuss who is going to pursue the matter at this stage and only prosecute in one place. However, they can prosecute in both. By “at this state”, I mean that we know that there was some kind of investigation going on which led to the surveillance in the first place. There is likely to be more of that investigation to be heard about at a later time. Usually, the authorities want to go up the “food chain” of the drug conspiracy and so put pressure on the street-level workers and “mules” who carry the drugs in order to do so.

So, expect the case to wane in terms of public attention…for awhile. Then, the next chapter will begin.

In the meantime, have a happy, safe and law-abiding Memorial Day!

NOTE TO READERS: Today’s blog was supposed to have been posted for Friday, May 22nd. However, the website was apparently down for servicing. Sorry about that, but hopefully this will see you through the rest of the holiday weekend.

The full articles of this story can be found at http://www.thebostonchannel.com/news/19529089/detail.html

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