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.

SOMERSET POLICE OFFICER IS PROSECUTED FOR THEFT AND POSSESSION OF DRUGS

Ricardo Pavao Is a Somerset police officer. Well, at least he was. Now he is hereinafter referred to as the “defendant”.

The Defendant is now facing criminal charges of larceny and drug possession. More specifically, He stands accused of going to peoples homes at an elderly housing complex, asking for personal information, and offering to collect and dispose of expired prescription medication.

“So what’s the problem?” You might ask. Well, it turns out that he was not authorized to do this.

“Well”, you might respond, “perhaps he is new on the force and didn’t know any better.”

Unfortunately, he has been on the force for about 10 years. He’s also 33 years old.

The criminal charges he faces are two counts of possession a Class E drug, two counts of possession of a Class C drug and one count of larceny under $250 under false pretenses, according to court documents. The case is pending at Fall River District Court. The Defendant was released, and the hearing was continued for a pretrial hearing on March 28.

You may be wondering what the defendant did with the drugs. For example, did he sell them to somebody else?

Nope.

Did he keep them and use them himself?

Uh-uh.

Did he even keep them?

Despite the search warrant that was executed, there’s nothing to indicate that. Although, he did have a small, not illegal, amount of marijuana
You might be wondering how this came to light. Well, a resident got suspicious. This, of course, led to a criminal investigation.

You maybe wondering if the Defendant made a statement. He did. He admitted it. He said he was trying to show some initiative after poor work performance reviews.

The only thing is, he did not notify his supervisor or get clearance for the exercise. According to a police news release, the Defendant was placed on administrative leave. Because of the ongoing internal police investigation involving a personnel matter in conjunction with the criminal investigation, the police officials declined to comment further at this time.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Drugs And Theft

In criminal law, we often look for criminal intent. The amount of intent or knowledge necessary for a conviction differs from case to case. For simple drug possession, the Commonwealth need only show knowing possession. There is nothing to indicate that the Defendant did not realize that the containers and bag were in his home. The presumption is that they were his.

As for the larceny charges, the Commonwealth would argue it was a “larceny by trick or scheme”. The assumption here is that the Defendant was lying when he relieved the folks of the expired drugs. I think there are problems inherent in these theft charges. First of all, there does not seem to be evidence that the Defendant either did not do what he said he would do with them or at least that that was what he intended to do.

This may well turn out to be a case in which crimnal charges were brought too quickly because of the feared critism that the Defendant was given preferential treatment because he was a police officer.

The Commonwealth may well find itself going any further than some disciplinary action on the force because the officer was not authorized to provide his little community service.

In the meantime, though, look for the negative media spin. On the other hand, wasn’t I the one on tv not so long ago ranting about Detective Johnson?

For the original story upon which this blog was based, please go to

http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2013/01/somerset_officer_facing_drug_charges and http://www.tauntongazette.com/news/x1959333836/Somerset-police-officer-arraigned-on-drug-charges-placed-on-leave

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