Well, you don’t expect to see a Boston Public School teacher’s aide to be amongst a bunch of criminal defendants. Particularly when the case involves allegations of drug trafficking and gun possession.

But then again…you learn to expect the unexpected in the criminal justice system these days.

Sure enough, 38-year-old Winford McRae of Revere (hereinafter, “Scholastic Defendant”) was among nine men who appeared Thursday in the United States District Court in Boston. He faces the threat of up to 40 years in prison if convicted of distributing and possessing cocaine. These nine defendants were part of a larger fifteen gentlemen who were arrested on drug and firearm charges as part of a more than yearlong undercover sting targeting North Shore gangs, authorities said.

According to law enforcement, these defendants were affiliated with Latin Kings and Bloods street gangs who are said to be operating primarily in Lynn and Revere. They were rounded up in early morning raids conducted by FBI agents, state troopers and local detectives, said state police spokesman Dave Procopio.

“The arrests are the result of a long-term investigation by city, state and federal investigators targeting the nexus of illegal firearms and narcotics in Boston and the North Shore,” said Jake Wark, spokesman for the Suffolk District Attorney’s Office, which is prosecuting five of the defendants.

Wark said a Suffolk prosecutor yesterday asked for $150,000 bail for two other Revere defendants who are charged with multiple counts of distributing crack cocaine. One was released on his own recognizance and the other $250 bail.

Meanwhile, the Scholastic Defendant and his alleged co-conspirators were brought into federal court. His attorney pleaded for his client’s release, arguing that the father of three is a “gainfully employed” teacher’s aide for Boston Public Schools and a graduate of Endicott College in Beverly.

Federal prosecutor Timothy Moran was unimpressed. He countered that “Right now the government is not willing to agree to a release.” So, Scholastic Defendant and his co-defendants were all remanded to jail to await arraignments next week.

A Boston Public Schools spokesman has since announced that Scholastic Defendant , who had joined the department in October, will now be placed on paid administrative leave.

The federal defendants face a variety of charges including federal gun and drug distribution charges.

Attorney Sam’s Take on Different Jurisdictions, Different Rules

This is one of those examples of why you want a criminal defense attorney who is experienced in the type of criminal matter with which you are dealing.

As you can see, the federal defendants had a different experience than the state defendants in terms of release. The federal defendants were held without bail; the state defendants were not.

If defense attorneys for the federal defendants had only handled matters in the state courts, they would likely have been in for a few surprises.

Surprise is another word for bad news for a criminal defendant.

For example, the inexperienced attorney would likely have been surprised that his client could be held without bail after the first appearance before the court. After all, this is not a murder case, probation surrender or any word of a dangerousness hearing reflected. These are the reasons a defendant is generally held without bail in Massachusetts state courts.

Since this is a long-term investigation, there may well be indictments. Indictments mean grand jury minutes. In state court, they are made available to the defense attorney right away. The inexperienced attorney in federal court better not hold his breath…he won’t be getting those until around 20 days before trial!

Of course, what has been unspoken is why some of these defendants were brought to state court and others to federal court. There could be a few reasons. Perhaps, for some reason, the crimes for which they are facing charges do not have federal jurisdiction. Questionable, but possible.

Or perhaps they have made an agreement with the government. More likely…but, the truth is we do not know. It will be interesting to see if they turn up on witness lists.

I will say this, though. I know Phil Moran. I have dealt with him and, although certainly a gentleman, he knows what he is doing. He is a good lawyer.

If Scholastic Defendant and his alleged friends want to have a chance at a decent result, it would be advisable for them to have experienced counsel…experienced in whichever jurisdiction they are facing their particular charges.

It may be too late for them, but, hey, you have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!
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