More drug convicts released as lab scandal fallout continues in Suffolk Superior Court
The parade of drug cases connected to former state chemist Annie Dookhan continued today in a Suffolk Superior Court special session as Judge Christine McEvoy allowed bail for two defendants who were the targets of separate undercover investigations.
Both of the defendants are in this country illegally, according to Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office, and will be held on Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers even if they make bail.
Rios was sentenced to up to seven years in prison when he pleaded guilty in Suffolk Superior Court July 11 to one count of trafficking in cocaine -- for delivering 500 grams of cocaine, according to his attorney and court records.
Stockwell-Alpert said his client had fallen into addiction and at the time of his arrest was being paid $70 for the delivery, money he and would have used to purchase drugs.
For Rios, McEvoy set bail at $5,000 cash, but Rios will be turned over to federal officials on the detainer if he posts bail.
Dookhan was one of two chemists who examined the evidence linked to the Rios case and determined it was cocaine, leading Conley’s office to support Rios’ request that his state prison sentence be put on hold while the drug lab investigation continues.
Dookhan has admitted to State Police that she falsified and mishandled drug evidence, potentially jeopardizing up to 34,000 drug cases she took part in during her nine-year career at the closed Department of Public Health drug lab in Jamaica Plain.
Dookhan is free on $10,000 cash bail after she pleaded not guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of falsifying her academic records.
After the hearing, Stockwell-Alpert said he’s represented hundreds of clients on drug offenses since 1993, and has found that Dookhan had a role in all but one of those cases.
“No juror in the Commonwealth will ever convict anyone on an Annie Dookhan case ever again,” he said.
Minutes later, Scott Gediman, another attorney, successfully obtained a stay of execution of sentence for his client, Juan Cotilla, convicted last year of drug distribution and sentenced to three years in state prison.
“A lot of these guys, about 80 to 90 percent of them, are very small-time, minor,” Gediman said.
“My client is a Pine Street Inn guy,” he said, referring to the South End homeless shelter.
Rios was granted release on personal recognizance.
By noontime, McEvoy had heard 12 of 20 cases scheduled for the day. All the defendants appeared via videoconference from the MCI-Cedar Junction prison in Walpole.
McEvoy declined to rule on a couple of cases. In those cases, Dookhan’s name was attached to at least one evidence confirmation, but the defendants were also convicted on other charges in which Dookhan played no role.Brian Ballou can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org