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.

Former Big Dig Bigwig Faces Allegations Of OUI, Leaving The Scene And A Default Warrant

Former Massachusetts Turnpike chairman Matthew Amorello (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) has fallen into ever-deepening holes of trouble on the criminal justice battlefield. First, he was arrested for drunk driving this past weekend. Well, not really just drunk driving. There are apparently other charges levied after he allegedly smashed into parked cars and tried to flee the scene despite the fact that one of his tires was off.

After a night of what the authorities call “sleeping it off” at the station, the Defendant was told he had to attend his arraignment in Haverhill court yesterday.

He didn’t.

And so it was that a Haverhill District Court Judge issued a default warrant for the man who once oversaw one of the largest public works projects in the state’s history…the Big Dig.

Now, upon the Defendant’s absence, the court was informed that was currently hospitalized at the UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester. The reason for his hospitalization was not specified in court.

Unfortunately, when the court went to follow up on the lead, the hospital spokeswoman indicated that the Defendant was not listed in the hospital’s patient database. Citing federal health privacy laws, she could not say whether he had been a patient at any time since his arrest early Saturday morning.

“Default. Arrest warrant to issue.”

And so the criminal charges of OUI and Leaving The Scene remain pending, awaiting the arrival of the Defendant to receive them.

You may have seen some rather pathetic photographs in the news of that Defendant after his arrest. He seems to be barely conscious. In fact, the officers indicate that they had to hold up his head so a booking photograph could even be taken, the report said.

The first officer on the scene found the Defendant sitting behind the wheel of his damaged car in a parking lot on River Street. The officer tried to talk with him, but was unable to do so, the report said.

“He seemed to be out of it,” police wrote. When the officer asked the Defendant for his license and registration, “all he could say was, ‘come on,’ ” police said in the report.
Officers told the Defendant that they wanted him to step out of the vehicle, an order he refused to comply with…assuming he was capable of doing so. Instead, he grabbed hold of the steering wheel, and despite twice being hit with pepper spray in the face, he refused to let go.

Officers dragged him out of his vehicle and then had to drag him across the parking lot to a waiting police cruiser.

“Once he was at the cruiser it took all three of us to get him inside,” police said in the report. [The Defendant] is 6 feet tall and weighs 250 pounds, according to the report. “And all we could do was lay him in the rear seat.”

The Defendant is no stranger to having problems covered by the press. You may remember the Defendant from the time he was forced out of his position by Governor Mitt Romney after a piece of tunnel ceiling collapsed, killing a woman who was a passenger in a car. He also had a little trouble when he was fined, in 2009, by the State Ethics Commission for violating the conflict-of-interest law.

When the mighty fall…they often fall hard.

Attorney Sam’s Take:

The fact that the Defendant now has an arrest warrant issued in his name does not mean that he is facing new charges. Rather, when he ends up in court to face the original charges, he will have to deal with the fact that he did not appear when he was supposed to.

In other words, it is a bail issue.

Often, when a defendant does not appear in court when he or she is supposed to, it can mean heavier bail conditions. In fact, it can result in bail being set so high that it is unreachable and so the defendant stays in custody while waiting for his presumption of innocence to officially be challenged by the government at trial.

In this case, it is difficult to determine what will happen. Should the Defendant (and experienced counsel) appear on his own (i.e., without having to be brought in by law enforcement), then he will probably be released on little to no bail. After all, he is well known to the Commonwealth and, as far as I know, has no criminal record). Most likely, he was still sleeping off his woes from the weekend and so the court will probably demand that, as a condition of bail, he has to remain alcohol free and, perhaps, check in with probation.

However, should the Defendant not show up on his own…and soon…the result is anybody’s guess. One would imagine he had the funds to flee. One might also argue that with this little episode his career is at risk and so he has incentive to flee.

On the other hand, most people do not see jail for a first time OUI, so the court may be very reluctant to hold him on bail.

Regardless of the Defendant’s notoriety, he stands, or sleeps, in a situation that is not terribly unusual. The key for him, and for you should you be in a similar circumstance, is to immediately find experienced counsel to represent you and guide you through the nightmare to come.

I stand ready to so serve. If you wish to discuss such a situation with me, please feel free to call me at (617) 206-1942.

If you would like to read the original story upon which this blog is based, please see: http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2010/08/ex-turnpike_aut.html?camp=obnetwork

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