Four violent convicts have been released and re-arrested in the wake of the state drug lab scandal, and a Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office spokesman says if the trends play out as they should, it’s only the beginning.
In most cases involving evidence that was tested by Annie Dookhan, the state drug lab chemist who allegedly mishandled evidence in thousands of cases, prosecutors have been able to negotiate pleas and have not had to re-litigate, Suffolk County DA spokesman Jake Wark said in an interview.
If the facts surrounding a case involve evidence that does not have to do directly with Dookhan, the conviction will typically stand, according to documents provided by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.
But what happens to those who have been freed based on mishandled evidence? Wark says, they’ll all end up right back in court and most likely in prison on future charges.
“Generally by the time you’re locked up on a drug charge you’ve got a 100 percent recidivism rate,” he said. “Unfortunately it’s no surprise to anybody.”
In all, 238 men sought to have their Suffolk Superior Court drug sentences stayed because Dookhan played a role in testing the substances they possessed, distributed, or trafficked, and 109 did so successfully during a series of specialized session dedicated to cases affected by the drug lab disaster, according to documents.
Wark says the re-offenses are an unfortunate corollary of this unprecedented situation: The people benefitting most from Dookhan’s suspected mishandling of evidence are the criminals with the longest history of violent crime.
“It’s because with drug charges, you have to offend so many times to get to prison,” he said.
Luis Quiles, 41, was the latest to be rearrested following his continuance Sept. 6 on charges he faced in Suffolk Superior Court. Quiles was arrested Monday at the Chinatown MBTA station after police saw him selling wristwatches he admitted to stealing from Macy’s. Quiles is a Level 3 sex offender with a long rap sheet involving offenses for assault and drug distribution, Wark told Boston.com.
Quiles was originally arrested after he allegedly sold heroin to an undercover police officer downtown. He was going to plead guilty to a drug distribution charge Sept. 6, but was ultimately released on his own recognizance after Assistant District Attorney Lauren Greene recommend his hearing be postponed. He’s due back in court on the most recent case Dec. 3, and on the drug case Dec. 10.
Torrie Haynes, 30, of Dorchester was convicted of drug distribution charges in January and sentenced to a three-year prison term, but was released Oct. 16 because Dookhan processed the evidence. He was arrested Nov. 10 on East Berkeley St. after Boston Police Drug Control Unit detectives witnessed him take part in a drug transaction.
Including his January conviction, Haynes has been convicted of drug distribution offenses five times in four different courts and has three prior assault and battery convictions.
Enrique Camilo, 37, was free on reduced bail in a pending Norfolk County drug case when he was arrested again after police found over a pound of cocaine in his Claron Street residence in Roslindale during an execution of a search warrant on Oct. 18, said Wark.
Marcus Pixley, 52, was released Sept. 11 after a judge reduced his bail from $5,000 to $1,000 because Dookhan handled drug evidence against him.
Pixley had an 11-page record at the time of his release including convictions for rape, armed robbery and other violent crimes, according to documents. He was arrested Oct. 5 on a bench warrant for failure to appear in court and his bail was revoked due to a probation violation.
These four re-offenders, all with a long history of violent crimes, only account for Dookhan defendants who have been rearrested in Suffolk County, Wark says. And while prosecutors and judges are trying to find a balance between what’s justifiable legally, there’s no controlling the inevitable.
“We have to approach these cases ethically,” Wark said. “The right thing to do is to temporarily suspend those sentences, and not just let [defendants] out with no further consequences. Unfortunately that puts a person in a position where they’re going to reoffend.”