Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rhode Island Shoplifting Defense Lawyer Matthew T. Marin Announces the DISMISSAL of a RI Shoplifting Charge

Attorney Matthew T. Marin announces a recent victory for a client facing a Shoplifting charge. If you need assistance or are facing a Rhode Island Shoplifting Charges, contact Attorney Matthew T. Marin at 401-228-8271 or mm@matthewtmarin.com.

CHARGES: MISDEMEANOR SHOPLIFTING
POLICE REPORT: Client, after browsing a south county store, exited the store without paying for a number of scarves. Store security stopped the Client and found the scarves in her purse. The police were called and the Client was arrested for Shoplifting (First Offense).
RESULT: DISMISSED

For More Information On Rhode Island Shoplifting Defense Visit Our Website at: www.matthewtmarin.com/Rhode_Island_Shoplifting_Lawyer.html

Reale gets 8 years in death of Colin Foote

11:33 AM EST on Saturday, December 18, 2010
By Tracy Breton

Journal Staff Writer

KINGSTOWN –– Laura A. Reale, the drug-addicted Westerly woman who failed to stop at a red light on Route 1 in Charlestown in May, killing motorcyclist Colin B. Foote, was sentenced Friday to serve 8 years of a 10-year sentence in the Adult Correctional Institutions.

“I find that marijuana killed Colin Foote,” Superior Court Judge Edwin J. Gale said in imposing the sentence, which includes substance-abuse and mental-health counseling and, when Reale is released on two years’ probation, 200 hours of community service and suspension of her driver’s license for five years.


The state’s prosecutor, Cindy Soccio, and members of Foote’s family had urged Gale to order Reale, 27, to serve the full 10 years — the maximum provided by state law — but the judge rebuffed their pleas, saying he wanted to make sure that once she was released there would be some constraints on her. She’ll have to report to a probation officer and practice good behavior for two years or she could wind up back in prison to finish the full 10-year sentence.

Reale, who pleaded guilty last month to a charge of driving to endanger, death resulting, wept through most of the proceedings, which lasted more than two hours. The Westerly High School graduate, who attended but did not finish the Community College of Rhode Island, appeared in court wearing suede sneakers, khaki slacks, a T-shirt and navy blue zip-up sweatshirt, her hands cuffed in front of her.

For the first time, she offered an apology to the Foote family, who sat on the opposite side of the courtroom with many of Colin’s friends and the woman he’d planned to marry, his longtime girlfriend, Mallory Kowal.

Reale said she had been devastated by “my senseless actions,” and that “I wish I could trade places with Colin today and take away some of [his family’s] pain. … My sorrow is so great and my pain has been endless.”

“There is not one waking hour when I am not consumed with Colin’s death” and the effect it has had on his family,” Reale said, reading from a handwritten statement. “I pray for Colin and his family daily” and “tell him how sorry I am. …”

As her parents, Thomas and Diana Reale, sat weeping behind her, their only child told the court that she hoped that someday the Foote family could “find it in their hearts to forgive me” and that God would “give them the peace they deserve.”

The Foote family, in highly emotional statements to the court, characterized Reale as evil, revolting and selfish and questioned whether “she has any goodness inside.” They also chided her and her parents for never contacting them after the accident to say they were sorry –– something defense lawyer Stephen R. Famiglietti later said he had told them not to do while the case was pending.

There was nary a dry eye in the spectator gallery as one by one, those most impacted by the death of Foote –– a 27-year-old cum laude Connecticut College graduate who lived in Charlestown and worked in public relations in Providence –– talked about their loss and poured out their pain.

Prosecutor Soccio showed a Foote family-made DVD capturing Colin’s life, from his days as a baby to the night he announced to his parents that he’d landed a full-time job.

His girlfriend, Kowal, had looked forward to having a wedding on Block Island and having children with her high school sweetheart. They had dreams of buying a yellow house and a bulldog but those plans were ruined, she said, “because of Laura Reale.”

Kowal told the court how, on the night of the fatal crash, she rushed to Westerly Hospital where he was pronounced dead and held his hand “as long as they would let me” after he had taken his last breath.

Kowal, who works in the emergency room at Hasbro Children’s Hospital offering bereavement counseling to those in need, is now in therapy herself — as are Foote’s parents, Richard “Robin” Foote and Maryann Foote. “Getting through just one day [now] is just so daunting and exhausting that I often feel life is not worth living,” said Kowal.

Colin’s mother talked about how “a part of me has died” with the loss of Colin and how she’s filled “with an angry sense of injustice” and bitterness and that sometimes, she feels like her “longtime investment in Colin” was for nothing.

Maryann Foote was following her son home in her car and, together with her other son, witnessed Colin getting struck. She recounted in court how she knelt over him on the roadway as he lay dying, “barely breathing, his helmet on,” how she prayed silently for him, waiting for a rescue truck, telling him over and over again “that I loved him.”

“And then I saw something bounding towards me as I bent over my son … a face of pure evil,” she said, referring to Laura Reale, who she said offered “some lame excuse” about not seeing the red light she had just run.

Maryann Foote chided the police for failing to adequately patrol Route 1 and urged the court to use her son’s case as an example to deter others from habitually violating traffic laws — as Reale did 28 times over 8½ years.

Famiglietti said that from the moment his client hit Colin Foote, she accepted responsibility. “She has a chance to make something of her life,” he said.

Gale –– who said he’d received over 100 letters from people across the country urging him to give Reale the maximum 10 years — said he doesn’t believe that the fatal crash was an accident.

“It was a predictable loss of life by someone who [in her pre-sentence report] describes herself as totally irresponsible” and who has been “almost totally self-indulgent, passing through life in a drug-induced fog.”

For over 10 years, Gale said, Reale has been “self-consumed, lazy, without ambition, purpose, addicted” to marijuana [and later, according to Soccio, to Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin.]

The judge said that he doesn’t believe Reale is evil but pointed out that she’d candidly admitted in her pre-sentence report that “‘I am not responsible, and I do not have a good work ethic, and I don’t want to work.’”

Gale said “it was a result of her chronic marijuana use since age fifteen” that caused this. In a lengthy discourse in which he railed against the evils of marijuana, Gale said: “The defendant was high on marijuana at the time of that fatal crash. She had just had some hits and she planned to have some more” when the accident occurred.

Although she was never charged with any drug offenses in connection with the fatality, Soccio, the prosecutor, said that on the last day of Foote’s life, while Colin, his brother and mother were enjoying a day-trip to Block Island, Laura Reale “spent her Sunday with two male companions hanging out at the Krystal Penguin Motel” in Charlestown.

“They smoked marijuana; she left the motel at some point; and then went back and at the end of the day,” she and a friend “went to find a convenience store to buy a blunt to smoke marijuana because” according to her companion, “Laura had a bag of marijuana.”

She was chattering about her ex-boyfriend and not paying attention, Soccio said, when she rode through the red light at West Beach Road and slammed into Foote. “She never hit her brakes, never slowed down … until after she hit Colin.”

Soccio bemoaned the fact that the General Assembly has set such a low maximum sentence for Reale’s crime.

Gale said he was upset that Rhode Island now has legalized marijuana for medicinal use even though the people who get it don’t know the grower and the growth “will not be inspected” for potency.

Day after day, the judge said, defense lawyers come to him to plead for leniency for clients, saying, “it’s only marijuana.” Saying that marijuana today is five times more potent than a generation ago, he asked, “When will our culture wake up and stop pretending that soft drugs are okay?”

The judge urged the media to write more stories about the dangers of marijuana. There are many people out there, he said, who are “lazy” and “irresponsible” and the taxpayers “are supporting their lifestyle, and the family of Colin Foote is paying the highest price imaginable.”

tbreton@projo.com

Man who trafficked tons of marijuana to Fall River, Providence sentenced

A Providence man accused of leading a marijuana trafficking operation in Fall River and Providence has been sentenced to nearly two decades in a federal prison.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Jeremy Barnes, 36, was sentenced to 17½ years, to be followed by five years of supervised release and a $50,000 fine, for conspiracy to distribute at least 50 kilograms of marijuana and distribution of marijuana in March 2006. Barnes had previously pleaded guilty to the charges stemming from a joint investigation by federal and local authorities aimed at reducing large-scale drug dealing in southern Massachusetts and Providence.

Prosecutors described Barnes as the leader of a large-scale marijuana distribution operation who obtained marijuana and cocaine from co-conspirators in California and elsewhere.

According to the Department of Justice, Chief Judge Mark Wolf found that Barnes and his California co-conspirators transported tons of marijuana from California to New England via tractor-trailers, small trucks and express mail packages.

After finding Barnes responsible for distributing at least 2,700 kilograms of marijuana, worth millions of dollars, and cocaine, Wolf sentenced Barnes to 210 months in prison.

According to the Department of Justice, the Fall River, Tiverton and Bristol, R.I., police departments and the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Providence field office played pivotal roles in the investigation.

E-mail Will Richmond at wrichmond@heraldnews.com.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Providence police detective pleads guilty in drug case

By Gregory Smith

Journal Staff Writer

Providence Detective Joseph A. Colanduono, right, pleads guilty in Superior Court Thursday. At left is his lawyer, Ralph E. Chiodo.

The Providence Journal / Andrew Dickerman

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Police Detective Joseph A. Colanduono, a highly respected “narc” who fell in with crooks, pleaded guilty in Superior Court Thursday to drug-dealing conspiracy and other charges.

Colanduono admitted for all intents and purposes that he put himself in the service of drug dealer Albert B. Hamlin, who Colanduono’s unwitting supervisors in the Providence Police Department and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration knew only as the detective’s longtime confidential informant.

When their illicit business was uncovered, Hamlin turned on Colanduono and agreed to help the Rhode Island State Police sting his confederate. The veteran police officer was tricked into committing a theft — one of the counts to which he plead guilty.

Both men were snared in Operation Deception, a joint investigation by the state police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation of a drug-peddling ring in Providence. Albert Hamlin three weeks ago pleaded guilty to 24 charges and remains in prison pending sentencing.

At least 22 other people were charged in the investigation, including three more Providence officers: Patrolman Robert J. Hamlin Jr., Albert Hamlin’s older brother; narcotics Detective Robert M. Enright; and Sgt. Stephen T. Gonsalves. All four are suspended from duty without pay.

State police say the ring, which mostly dealt in cocaine, was led by Albert Hamlin, a carpet layer who had never been arrested but whose knowledge of the drug underworld made him Colanduono’s confidential informant for 10 years and who was registered as such with the Providence police and the DEA. At the time they were arrested, Colanduono and Enright had been on a long-term assignment with a DEA task force in Rhode Island.

In a hearing at the Licht Judicial Complex downtown, Judge Robert D. Krause accepted Colanduono’s plea on four felony charges: two counts of conspiracy to twice deliver drugs to Gonsalves; larceny over $500; and harboring a criminal. Five charges were withdrawn.

In the process the judge accepted a plea deal between Colanduono and the office of Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch in which five of the original nine charges were dismissed and Colanduono will face a maximum 20-year prison sentence, with a maximum 10 years to serve and the balance suspended with probation.

Krause, working within the limits of that deal, said he would impose sentence next month.

Colanduono, 45, of 9 Bayberry Drive, West Warwick, who is married and the father of four children, ages 3, 15, 16 and 18, was sent back to the Adult Correctional Institutions, where he is being held without bail.

As he turned to leave, Colanduono gave his wife, Tracey, 41, who was in the audience, a small smile.

“He’s a good man,” Mrs. Colanduono said later. “When he comes home, I’ll be waiting for him.”

When the state police arrested Albert Hamlin on March 4, he was quick to implicate Colanduono, and Hamlin agreed to help them set up his coconspirator, the authorities have disclosed.

At the direction of the troopers, on the same day, Hamlin telephoned Colanduono and said he was doing business with a man at the Home Depot store on Charles Street. He wanted Colanduono to help him with a rip-off.

Would Colanduono go to the man’s white van left unattended in the park-and-ride lot across the street from the Home Depot and grab $2,000 that the man had stashed in an envelope in the glove box, Hamlin asked. Hamlin said he had managed to leave the van unlocked. Actually, troopers had staged the van and the money.

Colanduono, driving an undercover Providence police car, completed the errand and returned to police headquarters.

Colanduono then was summoned by his superiors to a conference room in the police chief’s office suite and arrested, and the envelope of cash was taken from his pants pocket. As Assistant Attorney General Pamela E. Chin expressed it in court Thursday, he stole the state police’s money.

The harboring count pertains to an unusual incident in North Providence in which Hamlin, impersonating a police officer, boarded a Federal Express delivery truck in a shopping center parking lot in a fruitless search for a package containing five pounds of marijuana that had been sent to him from Texas. Hamlin has admitted what he did and that he carried a badge and a gun.

On Nov. 12, 2009, he boarded the truck of driver Claudio Brito, 33, and said he was a police officer working on a drug case. Although the details of the incident are murky, Hamlin at one point gave Brito his cell phone number.

Chin told the judge Thursday that when Colanduono learned of the incident, he told Hamlin to dump his cell phone and that he gave Hamlin advice about how to avoid detection and arrest.

When a Federal Express security officer contacted the DEA to ask if it was a DEA operative who accosted their driver, Colanduono and Enright, in their capacities on the task force, were assigned to interview the driver. But the detectives allegedly only went through the motions of investigating.

Thursday’s plea continues a long fall from grace for Colanduono, who joined the police force in 1987, had been a key player in important drug cases in Providence and the region, and had won significant awards.

He said little at the hearing, other than to identify himself and to plead guilty.

Despite the plea, Tracey Colanduono insisted later, “He didn’t cross the line. He was just doing his job.”

“He’s a great cop. He always will be.”

She was accompanied by Amy DiNobile, a clerk at City Hall and Colanduono’s former sister-in-law, who has been helping to take care of the Colanduono children.

“Being an undercover cop is a tough and dirty job,” DiNobile said, in which an officer has to pretend to be a criminal.

“The end result is, he didn’t kill anybody. Let him go to work. Give him a [electronic monitoring] bracelet. Why have another family go into the system.”

Standing on the courthouse steps, Tracey Colanduono said, “I’m glad it’s over.”

“Now it’s time to rebuild.”

TIMELINE Operation Deception

Nov. 20, 2009: State police begin a wiretap investigation of Albert B. Hamlin after getting information from an informant. They later describe Hamlin as a high-level drug dealer.

February: State police electronically monitor for a month the police car of Providence narcotics Detective Joseph A.

Colanduono.

March 4: State police arrest on drug charges six people including Colanduono and two other officers who they say were helping to protect a drug operation run by Hamlin. State police say the investigation is continuing.

March 5: Four officers, including narcotics Detective Robert M. Enright, are placed on desk duty at Providence police headquarters as a result of the state police investigation.

March 8: Mayor David N. Cicilline directs Police Chief Dean M. Esserman to conduct random drug testing of Providence officers. One of the officers charged by state police, Sgt. Stephen T. Gonsalves, was a cocaine user, they said.

March 10: Cicilline withdraws the drug testing order in the face of opposition from the police union and the Rhode Island affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union.

April: Colanduono and another officer charged, Patrolman Robert J. Hamlin Jr., brother of Albert Hamlin, are ordered held without bail.

June 7: Statewide grand jury indicts 24 people in connection with Operation Deception, including Colanduono and the

Hamlins.

Nov. 18: Albert Hamlin pleads guilty to 24 charges after negotiations with the attorney general’s office. Fourteen other charges are dropped.

Dec. 9: Colanduono pleads guilty to four charges against him. Five others are dropped as a result of plea negotiations with the attorney general’s office.

gsmith@projo.com