You know, I really hate to beat up on anybody. I really don’t want to be mean.
But when the same guy keeps popping up with new charges and seems to be pushing for czar of the “Hey, I’ll Bet I Can Make This Situation Worse” Club’s newest section, “How Far Can I Push Things Before They Just Lock Me Up?”, I really have to make comment.
I have written about this guy before. He is the former Boston firefighter and bodybuilder Albert A., (hereinafter, the “Defendant”). He is back in the news and back in Commonwealth housing.
Perhaps you remember him.
He was one of Boston’s fireman until a number of months ago. You see, on March 21st, he allegedly slipped on a staircase. Nobody had witnessed the accident, but a Dorchester neurologist said in a report that the Defendant was “totally and permanently disabled”. So, the Defendant applied to the Boston Retirement Board for a disability pension.
Unfortunately, on May 3rd, he achieved apparent medical history by finishing eighth at the 2008 Pro Natural American Championships in Marlborough, Massachusetts. After the Boston Globe published a picture of the medical marvel during the competition, Fire Department officials ordered him to return to work.
He was fired.
The media had a field day, denouncing the Defendant and his fraudulent acts, not to mention the system that had allowed him to so easily do so.
This would have been enough for most people. But not the Defendant. There was still some room left on that rope.
In October, his former girlfriend sought a restraining order against the Defendant. The court allowed the restraining order which mandated that the Defendant not contact either her or her family.
Nope. Not bad enough yet.
On November 4th, he was arrested and charged with violating that order after the former girlfriend reported seeing him lurking outside her house.
Almost, but not quite bad enough. After all, he was free on bail awaiting trial.
Well, now that’s changed. Yesterday, the Defendant had to pay another visit to West Roxbury District Court. He was now charged with violating the restraining order several times between the dates of November 14th and 16th. Based upon his alleged violation for the second time in two months, the court revoked his bail.
As any loyal reader of this daily blog knows, getting arrested while out on bail is tantamount to violating probation.
The former girlfriend said in an application for the restraining order that the Defendant had been harassing her for six years.
“He follows me everywhere,” she wrote. “For that reason, I am in fear of leaving my house. I keep my doors locked. I close my curtains because he looks up to my window.”
The Defendant will be held at least until the next court date later this month and possibly until the scheduled trial date in January.
My Sarcasm aside, please understand that this man may actually not be guilty of anything to do with the restraining order.
So now you say, “Yeah, Sam, I get it. Presumption of innocence stuff. Yada Yada Yada.”
Well, yeah…but let’s think about this for a moment here.
Here is another scenario that could easily have happened. When the Defendant comes into the public eye of ridicule, his credibility hits an all-time low. He is now a dandy target for allegations. For example, his alleged ex-girlfriend says she has been harassed by the Defendant for six years. Isn’t it an interesting coincidence that she does not report it until after his professional downfall. And, as you may recall from my daily blog of November 5, 2008, she listed herself as having a current or present dating or engagement relationship with him.
A little odd for an ex-girlfriend who has been trying to get away from the man for six years to my mind. But then, I may be too suspicious. Occupational hazard, perhaps, but have you ever heard the old cliché about a “woman scorned”?
Anyway, the procedures surrounding 209(A) Hearings for restraining orders is a bit more lopsided then you might imagine. The accused has far fewer rights to challenge the requested restraining order. It is not considered a criminal proceeding, so you would be surprised at what I have seen pass for a “full hearing” in these matters. There is also a fear of, “what if I do not allow the order and he goes out and kills her?”
As if the accused would not have realized he was not allowed to murder someone absent the order.
In any event, it is almost deemed a harmless (for the accused) order, so it is granted quite easily.
The order is then entered into his record so that if there are ever any criminal justice issues in the future, it can be taken into consideration.
Even if that is not a problem, the accused has now has a criminal justice bulls-eye stapled between his eyes.
True, if the accused is actually an abuser, the victim needs to be protected and should have a right to keep an unwanted stalker away. However, the criminal justice system of the new millennium contains many disgruntled souls who have learned that a little call to law enforcement is a good way to get even. And so, with order in hand, if an unhappy complainant decides now would be a good time to say she saw the accused outside her window or something that would be equally unlikely to be disproved, the criminal justice shuffle begins.
“Yeah”, you say. “But a decent criminal defense attorney could show the jury she is lying, right?”
Maybe. But then, what if, while waiting the many months for trial, the Defendant is in custody on high bail? Then there is that little detail of paying for an attorney, having to live under suspicion while the case is pending, etc.
Not exactly a position most of us would relish.
So, here is the bottom line on this one, folks. Dealing with criminal charges, or their cousin the 209A Hearing, is not a straightforward search for the truth for which you just need commonsense to have a chance for survival. If you want to have a chance at leaving either one as unscathed as possible, you need to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney to guide and defend you.
In the case of the Defendant, one would have suspected he would have learned that after being smacked in the face with the initial investigation into his activities. Perhaps he did, though, as while fired, he does not seem to be facing criminal charges for the white collar crime of fraud.
Samuel Goldberg is the senior criminal defense attorney at the firm of Altman & Altman, LLP. A former prosecutor in New York, he has worked as a Boston defense attorney over 18 years. 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.
The full articles of this story can be found at http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2008/12/bodybuilding_ex.html