For Immediate Release - May 25, 2012

Chelsea Man Convicted, Sentenced to 15 Years in State Prison for Cocaine Trafficking

AG Retried Case After 2008 Conviction Was Overturned as Result of Melendez-Diaz Supreme Court Decision; Retrial Led to Conviction

BOSTON – A Chelsea man has been convicted and sentenced to 15 years in state prison for cocaine trafficking in the Greater Boston area, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today. 

On April 5, 2012, after a three day trial, a Middlesex Superior Court jury found defendant Henry Pryor, age 34, guilty of one count of Trafficking in Cocaine over 200 grams.  Last week, on May 17, Middlesex Superior Court Justice Sandra Hamlin sentenced the defendant to 15 years to 15 years and one day in State Prison. 

“This result reaffirms the conviction the defendant received in 2008, which was overturned as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Melendez-Diaz v. Commonwealth,” AG Coakley said.  “Our office retried the case and this defendant was convicted and will continue to serve his 15-year sentence.”

In 2008, Pryor was tried and convicted of cocaine trafficking for selling a kilogram of cocaine to an undercover state police trooper in 2005 in Medford.  That conviction was overturned due to the United States Supreme Court decision in Melendez-Diaz v. Commonwealth, a precedent-setting Confrontation Clause case involving the admission of drug analysis certificates at trial.  In that case, the Supreme Court vacated a drug conviction holding that admission of the drug certificate of analysis without testimony from the analyst violated the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause.  The Massachusetts Appeals Court vacated Pryor’s original conviction as a result of Melendez-Diaz. The AG’s Office retried the case in 2012, which once again led to Pryor’s conviction for trafficking over 200 grams of cocaine.

A Middlesex County Grand Jury returned indictments against Pryor on August 11, 2005.  Pryor was arraigned on August 17, 2005, at which time he pleaded not guilty and was ordered held on $10,000 cash bail.  Pryor was convicted on April 5, 2012 and was sentenced to state prison by Justice Hamlin on May 17, 2012.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Jessica Massey of AG Coakley’s Enterprise and Major Crimes Division, and Assistant Attorney General April English of AG  Coakley’s Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division.  The case was investigated by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Office of the Attorney General.


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