Malden Armed Robbery Sting Operation Yields Three Arrests – Attorney Sam’s Take

Sting operations in Massachusetts are not uncommon. They are employed by law enforcement to investigate various types of crimes from drug dealing to prostitution.

Oh yes. And guns.

Robert C. Kenney, 56, Christopher P. Littlejohn, 30, and Ramone Arakelow, 34, all from Beverly, (collectively, the “Defendants”) have now learned this lesson. They were arrested last week in such an operation. They allegedly thought they were planning a home invasion in Malden with “legitimate” co-conspirators.

The victim-to-be was a drug dealer.

The victim-to-be was not a legal citizen.

The victim- to be…did not exist.

The would-be victim was simply part of a fictitious scenario created by authorities who had been investigating the Defendants. What the various law enforcement agencies (FBI, State Police and various local police departments) were really after was weapons. One of the Defendants is suspected of selling seven illegal firearms in the Boston and North Shore areas, State Police said. The other two are suspected associates.

The authorities monitored the Defendants as they made their way along Route 99 in a green and gray pickup truck. A State Police helicopter was also tracking the truck. When the truck stopped in Saugus, allegedly the spot used to prepare for the night’s festivities, they were arrested.

Inside the truck, authorities say they found knives, a ski mask, duct tape, and paraphernalia indicating the men planned to pose as federal immigration agents during the home invasion, including a fluorescent jacket like those worn by police officers, emergency lights that could be mounted on a dashboard, and zip ties, used by police as handcuffs.

The Defendants face a host of charges, ranging from conspiracy to commit armed robbery in state court and, potentially, gun charges in federal court.

As a long time experience criminal defense attorney in Boston, I have often criticized police officers for not for being creative and not limiting themselves to the truth. There are, however, Cases in which police officers are creative, manipulating the truth, but simply doing their jobs.

This would include sting operations such as that which is mentioned in today’s story.

“But Sam, isn’t this entrapment?”

No it is probably not. It might be entrapment if officers enticed an individual who would never otherwise commit such a crime to commit it. This does not seem to be the case in this story.

I have often reminded you that, in the course of the investigation, police officers are allowed to lie for a number of reasons. We have discussed times where officers lie to suspect in order to get statements from him or to trick him into letting the officers into his home. They are also allowed to actais undercover officers and trick people whmo they believe would otherwise commit a crime pretend to join in the fun with them.

Far from finding this unfair, the law considers this “good police work”. When the case involves people who might otherwise do home invasions or possess weapons, the law is particularly pleased with the police manipulations.

“Well I know that people are not allowed to lie to police officers, that is a felony, right?”

Yes, that’s right.

“But then isn’t it unfair that they were allowed to lie to us?”

Perhaps it is unfair, but it is the state of the law. After all, these are police officers and it is assumed that they are always acting for the public good. They are, after all, protecing us.

The rest of us are apparently not so laudable. So, trying to save your own skin, or that of a loved one, is not a good enough reason to lie.

You do have the right to keep your mouth closed, though. Usually, when contacted in an investigation, the wise thing is to do just that until you have a chance to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Especially if the person being investigated is you.

You may or may not end up cooperating with police. But making that decision alone can cost you years in the end.

The part of reality that the system does not seem to recognize is that, good or bad, after a certain point in an investigation, the officers decide what they believe the truth to be. By the time they get to interviewing you, little you say is likely to convince them that they were wrong.

If you would like it discuss a criminal matter with me, please feel free to call me to arrange a free initial consultation at 617-492-3000.

In the meantime, have a great Valentine’s day!

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