Drug Forfeiture Case Decided by United States Supreme Court

The Supreme Court in Honeycutt v. United States ruled that a man who worked at his brother’s hardware store and sold an iodine-based product that could be used to make methamphetamine was not required to forfeit profits that he never earned, despite his conspiracy conviction for his role in the sales. The Honeycutt case has the potential to shed significant light on the extent of liability of conspirators while also limiting the government’s power to seize assets from entities who are involved in a criminal enterprise.

The Facts of the Case

The Honeycutt case concerns two Tennessee brothers who were convicted on drug conspiracy charges. In the involved action, the government sought nearly $270,000 from sale of the iodine based product. Over the course of three years, the store in question reported sales of over 20,000 bottles of “Polar Pure” water purifiers at over a $270,000 profit. Law enforcement instructed the store owners that… Continue Reading this Post

Illegal Re-Entry Cases Are Priority for US Attorney's Office in Massachusetts

The United States Attorney's Office the District of Massachusetts is increasing prosecution against undocumented immigrants who have attempted to re-enter the country after being deported.

In May 2017, the office issued 12 press releases concerning undocumented immigrants who have been charged with illegal re-entry into the country. These releases culminated in three reports that were sent within a span of seven minutes on the Friday before Memorial Day. These releases include the following:

  • On May 26, 2017, a press release titled “Guatemalan National Charged with Illegal Reentry After Deportation”
  • On May 26, 2017, a press release titled “Guatemalan National Charged with Illegal Reentry After Deportation”
  • On May 26, 2017, a press release entitled "Honduran National Charged with Illegal Reentry After Deportation"
  • On May 26, 2017, a press release entitled "Brazilian National Charged with Illegal Reentry after Deportation"
  • On May 23, 2017, a press release entitled "Dominican National Pleads Guilty to Illegal Reentry after Deportation"
  • On May 23, 2017, a press release entitled “Dominican National Sentenced f… Continue Reading this Post

GPS Effective Method of Counter-surveillance for Narcotics Traffickers

The Use of Global Positioning Technology to Combat Drug Trafficking

An increasing number of organized crime groups in Latin America are using basic technology like the Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to avoid United States law enforcement agencies while transporting drugs. El Salvador’s División Antinarcóticos, the country’s anti-drug program, reports that organized crime groups are increasingly using GPS technology to transport illegal shipments.

This use of basic technology comes after the recent arrest of the infamous crime boss, Prado Alava, who alleged that his operation was using technology more advanced than any other group.

The United States has likely increased focus on this activity because the amount of cocaine traffic has increased significantly in the course of the last year. The United States’ International Narcotics Control Strategy Reports reveal that the amount of drugs exported from South America has risen to unprecedented levels. The amount of coca cultivation in Colombia has increased by 18 percent within the last year to an estimated 465,000 acres… Continue Reading this Post

Illegal Cyber Activities Pose Significant Criminal Threat to Europe

As the world becomes digitized, so does the crime. The European Police Commission (Europol) in March of 2017 released its annual Serious and Organized Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA) ever. Europol is the law enforcement agency that is tasked with handling criminal intelligence and combating serious international organized crime in the European Union. SCOTA is a vital tool in Europol’s efforts to combat crime.

Comprised of more than 2,300 questionnaires regarding organized crime and investigation of more than 5,000 international groups of over 180 nationalities, the most recent SCOTA is the most comprehensive volume ever. SOCTA covers a range of criminal activities including eight priority crime threats: criminal finances, cyber crime, document fraud, drug production, migrant smuggling, online trade in illicit goods, organized property crime, and trafficking in human beings.

The Threat Presented by Cyber Crimes

SOCTA places cyber crime in the context of organized crime and serious criminal activity. Focusing on the danger presented by cyber crime and malware which steals information from… Continue Reading this Post

Massachusetts Legislature Considers Criminalizing Revenge Porn

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is in the process of creating a law to resolve an issue about how “revenge porn” cases are decided. Recently, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito joined a Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley in promoting legislation that would prohibit “revenge porn” and reshape laws concerning sexting between juveniles. Governor Baker commented that while the state has laws punishing the non-consensual recording of sex acts and genitalia, "Our laws do not address...when a person takes a sexually explicit image or recording that was lawfully obtained and then distributes it with the intent to harm the person depicted and without that person's consent."

Proposed Revenge Porn Law

This new “revenge porn” law would primarily apply to individuals over the age of eighteen. A violation of the proposed “revenge porn” law would result in an individual who distributes this pornography facing up to five years in state prison and a $10,000 fine. A judge would also be permitted to order defendants to remove sexually explicit images… Continue Reading this Post

Fitbit Data Plays Role in Murder Investigation

A Fitbit device is playing a groundbreaking role in a murder investigation. Connie Dabate of Ellington, Connecticut was killed shortly before Christmas, 2015. Connie Dabate’s husband, Richard, was found by police at the residence partially zip-tied to a chair. The arrest report for the case states that a canine was brought to the house in an effort to track the scent of the intruder. After a failed first attempt to follow the intruder’s scent, the canine then focused on Richard who was in the process of receiving medical treatment in an ambulance. A Fitbit found on Connie has further helped to show inaccuracies in the story told by Richard.

The Husband’s Version of the Murder

Richard alleges that on December 23, 2015, his children were placed on the morning bus to school. Richard then went to work and Richard’s wife was headed to the local YMCA. After realizing that he had forgotten his laptop at home, Richard returned to the residence between 8:45 and 9:00 am. At the residence, Richard heard a noise and spotted an intruder which caused Richard to order Connie to run. After a brief st… Continue Reading this Post

Massachusetts Criminal Case Argued in United States Supreme Court

Weaver v. Massachusetts:

Whether Prejudice Is Required if Trial Counsel Makes an Unreasonable Error

The Supreme Court recently heard oral argument on whether a convicted criminal defendant is required to show "prejudice" when the trial attorney's error is held to have been "structural." Up to this point, states and federal court are split on whether this prejudice requirement is necessary. This case is important for all structural errors that occur in courts because the result has the potential to significantly affect the likelihood of reversal on appeal for many criminal convictions.

The Applicable Law in this Case

A constitutional right of public access to criminal proceedings is granted to individuals under the First and Sixth Amendments. Courts have decided that violations of this public access requirement constitute a “structural error”, which is a category including errors that often do not require prejudice to be shown. Claims for the unconstitutional ineffective assis… Continue Reading this Post

The Quest to Create a Test for Marijuana Impairment

Marijuana is playing a larger role in the daily lives of many Americans. Massachusetts is one of eight states, as well as the District Columbia, where recreational use of marijuana is now considered legal. Additionally, twenty states have legalized the use of medical marijuana. There remain questions about how the use of marijuana should be regulated. While motor vehicle operators are prohibited from driving a vehicle while impaired by marijuana, there is no accurate test for determining whether an individual has consumed marijuana. Among this uncertainty about the impairment of motor vehicle drivers in Massachusetts who might have taken marijuana, there is currently a case pending from a Massachusetts state court that will likely provide some illumination about what approach Massachusetts will take to these challenges created by detecting marijuana impairment.

The Danger Presented by Marijuana Use

Although many (but not all) studies have found that mariju… Continue Reading this Post

Attorney Fasoldt Helps Individual Suppress Evidence Obtained During Warrantless Search

A recent decision was made in a case that arose when a report of a “skunky” and “minty” smell like drugs emanating from an individual’s apartment was made by one of the individual’s neighbors. While the neighbor claimed to have slept elsewhere to avoid the smell emanating from the apartment and experienced a headache, the neighbor had noticed the defendant leave the apartment in fine health. The neighbor also claimed that the fumes in question were adversely affecting her dog, that the windows of the neighbor’s apartments were “sealed”, and that a bright line shone in one of the defendant’s apartment’s rooms.

Law enforcement proceeded to investigate the case and at the beginning of March was decided to have unlawfully performed a search of the individual’s apartment without first obtaining a search warrant.

Lack of Evidence and Support by Massachusetts Law Enforcement

Although the smell in question was unpleasant, there is not any evidence present suggesting that the smell was dangerous in nature and presented a risk for the building’s occupants.

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Man Charged for Causing Seizure Due to Tweet

While the digital era has introduced several benefits, there are also numerous types of new threats created by technology. Recently, a man in Maryland was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon because the man sent a tweet with an animated image of a strobe light to a journalist with epilepsy. The tweet in question was made by Kurt Eichenwald, and the tweeter in question is alleged to have been motivated by anti-semitic views. Eichenwald has over 300,000 followers on Twitter, has written four books, and been a vocal proponent against President Trump. The tweet in question came the night after the journalist argued with another individual that President Donald Trump had once been admitted to a mental hospital. The poster in question immediately apologized and sought help from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The deadly weapon in question is the use of the electronic device that was used to communi… Continue Reading this Post