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.

Boston District Attorney Celebrates Drug Defendant’s Guilty Plea

Well, it’s nice to see the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office having a good time. Of course, Demetrius E., 27 of Dorchester (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) might not be laughing, though, should he read their recent press release celebrating his guilty plea in Boston’s Superior Court.

The Defendant pleaded guilty to various drug charges on November 17th. The drug of choice was crack, cocaine. The sentence was five-to-seven years in state prison. The funny part?

He is said to have stored his crack in a Chips Ahoy cookie box.

He had been arrested on Feb. 22, 2005. November 17, 2009, was to be his trial date. Instead, he pleaded guilty.

On December 1st, the prosecutor’s office posted its happy press release under the title of “COOKIE CRUMBLES FOR DORCHESTER DRUG DEALER

According to the release, the box was full of crack. In fact, the Defendant admitted to trafficking in more than 28 grams of said contraband.

According to the Commonwealth, the Defendant tossed a box of 83 grams of the stuff onto a back porch of the building wherein he was about to be found by a Boston Police drug control unit which was closing in on the residence.

The search was being occasioned by an ongoing investigation into drug activity in that area. Apparently, they had information about a supply of crack that was being kept in the third floor apartment. The officers say they knocked on the door, announced their office, and were granted entry by a resident.

Always good to have nice neighbors…!

The release further indicates that:

“Three residents told the officers that no one else was present, but the officers heard a sound coming from the rear bedroom. Conducting a protective sweep to ensure their safety, the officers found [the Defendant] breathing heavily, beginning to sit down, and pretending to speak on the phone. A doorway from the bedroom to a back hallway led outside to a porch; the officers looked on the porch and observed a cardboard Chips Ahoy box devoid of cookies that was on top of recent snow.

The cookie box was consistent with a sealed plastic package of chocolate chip cookies recovered in the bedroom where [the “Defendant”] was found. Moreover, it was dry to the touch, as if it had been in the snow for only a short time. Inside were two large rocks of crack cocaine. Based on all the evidence, [the prosecutor] was prepared to prove that [the “Defendant”] heard the police arriving, took the cookies from the Chips Ahoy box, put the crack rocks inside, and tossed the box onto the porch before returning to the bedroom.”

Also recovered within the bedroom were apparently several personal papers belonging to the Defendant, several “loose pieces” of crack cocaine, and more than $1,000 cash.

No word on whether the “loose pieces” were disguised as crumbs.

Attorney Sam’s Take:

I can just hear the prosecutor’s closing argument, had the matter gone to trial, were the defense to suggest that the Commonwealth planted the evidence. “‘Planted the evidence’? Do you think the officers had the creativity to make up the whole cookie-box plot?”

Of course, the defense would likely have been that the Defendant simply had no idea how that box full of crack got there. He just likes to eat chocolate chip cookies. After all, there is no evidence that the Defendant was seen throwing the box out (which, the Commonwealth would argue, the officers would have if they were simply making it up). Further, there is no fingerprint evidence from the box.

On the other hand, having the original contents of the box, money and additional crack around the apartment does not help that defense very much. In fact, he could have been found not guilty of the box outside, but guilty of what was found in the apartment.

“But Sam, couldn’t he say he did not live there and he was just using the phone?”

That’s where the personal papers found come in. It is common for the prosecution to use such material to show that it was the suspect’s living quarters…even if he was not living there alone.

“So, you are saying that there was absolutely no defense in this case?”

I did not say that. I never say that. A defense could have been a combination of his not knowing anything about the box outside, and the crack in his room not being his. The argument would likely be that that contraband must have been planted. As for the cookies…well, he just likes them.

Well, I did not say it was necessarily a winning defense. I would need to know more about the case to come up with one of those.

One more thing you might have noticed. The Defendant is said to have pleaded guilty to a lesser amount of drugs than the Commonwealth say they found. This could simply be the result of a reduced plea. After all, the Defendant was facing felony charges and we know nothing about what, if any, criminal record he had. We know that the Defendant made a plea bargain. Most likely, a reduced sentence, and/or reduced charge, was a part of that…otherwise there would be no reason to take the plea.

Sometimes, that is the best a criminal defense attorney can do.

That is, the best an experienced criminal defense attorney can do. Someone with experience knows what a case is worth and tends to have more leverage with the prosecution. A prosecutorial background also helps the defense to speak the assistant district attorney’s language. It is a good idea to try to get one of them if facing such charges. As I happen to be one of them, if you wish to discuss such a matter with me, please feel free to do so by calling me at (617) 206-1942.

By the way, a reminder about tomorrow’s blog. In it, we will examine the question of when to and not to talk to the police when they come a-calling with potential Commonwealth Bracelets of Shame with your name on them.

For the full article upon which today’s blog is based, go to http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2009/12/drug_dealer_kep.html

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