Dookhan Defendants Plead Guilty To Cocaine Possession Again
Two defendants in cases recently decided by the Supreme Judicial Court, who had claimed that their drugs convictions were tainted because of Annie Dookhan’s role in testing the drugs, have pled guilty again. In February, 2013, the Essex County District Attorney filed several lawsuits at the Supreme Judicial Court to clarify the procedures for handling so-called Dookhan drug lab cases in Superior Court. The defendants in two of those cases, Shubar Charles and Hector Milette, during their guilty pleas, admitted that the substance tested by Dookhan was cocaine.
Today, Charles, 29, of Lynn, pled guilty in Salem Superior Court to; possession of Class B (cocaine) with intent to distribute, felon in possession of a firearm, and possession of ammunition without an FID card. He was sentenced to 4 years to 4 years and 1 day in state prison, which was deemed served, followed by 2 years of probation. He originally pled guilty to the same charges on October 18, 2010 but later challenged his guilty plea because Dookhan was the primary chemist who tested the substance in his case.
Charles was arrested by Lynn Police in April 2009 after New Bedford Police contacted them regarding a report that Charles, while visiting a former girlfriend in New Bedford, had held a firearm to her face and threatened to kill her. (Charles has since pled guilty to the charges related to this incident.) When Lynn Police officers found Charles at an apartment on North Common Street, he was in a bedroom where they found a loaded handgun. In addition, he had 20 individual baggies of a white powdery substance believed to be cocaine in his pants pocket, and a bullet in his jacket pocket.
He later asked the court to vacate his guilty plea and release him from prison because Dookhan was the primary chemist who analyzed the substance found in the baggies. On January 31, 2013, Special Judicial Magistrate John Cratsley allowed Charles’ motion for stay of sentence, pending a decision as to whether he would get a new trial. The Essex District Attorney’s Office objected because Charles was a threat to public safety and Dookhan and the Hinton Lab were in no way involved with the gun related charges. The District Attorney also questioned the authority of the Special Judicial Magistrate to allow motion for a stay because it was not permitted by any court rule.
Earlier this week, the SJC agreed with the Essex District Attorney’s Office that the Special Judicial Magistrate does not have the authority to allow a motion for a stay of sentence, but may only make findings to a Superior Court Judge. The SJC also agreed with the Essex District Attorney that the Special Judicial Magistrate may not allow a motion for a stay after a Superior Court Judge denies the motion.
“It is important to remember that police sought this defendant following a report that he pointed a loaded gun in a woman’s face and threatened to kill her. Lynn Police found him alone in a room where they also found a loaded gun and in possession of ammunition. The conduct of Annie Dookhan has no bearing on those facts,” District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said. “Obviously, we must address any wrongful convictions as a result of Ms. Dookhan’s alleged conduct as quickly as possible, but we must bear in mind that many of these defendants have other serious accompanying charges that have nothing to do with Annie Dookhan or the Hinton Drug Lab. As District Attorney, I will review each case to ensure that public safety is not threatened, the rules of the court are followed, and justice is done.”
The other defendant, Hector Milette, pled guilty to 3 counts of trafficking Class B (cocaine) and 1 count of possession with intent to distribute Class B (cocaine) on May 20, 2013. He was sentenced to 3 years to 3 years and 1 day in state prison, which was deemed served, followed by 3 years of probation. He had pled guilty to the same charges on May 9, 2011, but later claimed that his plea was not valid because Dookhan had been involved with the testing of the cocaine. Special Judicial Magistrate Cratsley allowed his motion for a stay of sentence after Superior Court Judge David Lowy had denied it.