Last night Massachusetts State Police and Lawrence, Massachusetts police officers raided the Italien-American Civic Association on Essex Street looking for evidence of an illegal gambling operation. The establishment has been targeted by local police since a November 2011 murder occurring just outside of the club. The raid was permitted by a Search Warrant recently obtained by law enforcement. This investigation targeted conventional gambling activities such as craps and card games as well as Dominican lottery and cockfighting. Arraignments this morning are in the Lawrence District Court. There is no indication as to whether or not the case will be prosecuted in the district court or the Essex County Superior Court in Salem.
Criminal Attorneys Who Defend Gaming Charges in Massachusetts
The prohibition against gambling in Massachusetts is set out in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 271 Section 17. The law states that anyone who is in any way involved with gambling and convicted under this statute is guilty of a felony. There is a maximum three year prison sentence associated with a conviction for illegal Gambling in Massachusetts and a fine of up to three thousand dollars. This statute is all encompassing. At many levels there are constitutional challenges to this law that might result in a dismissal of charges against the accused. For instance, there is a phrase in the statute that provides liability for “whoever is present in such place”. Massachusetts case law however has held that “[m[ere unwitting presence of defendant in same place where apparatus is does not constitute crime”. There are many reasons why people might legitimately attend a social club that does not involve their participation in unlawful gambling. There is no valid reason to charge these people with a violation of this law even though they were present when a raid occurred. At times this is lost on district attorneys who prosecute large numbers of people, many of whom were simply caught up on the execution of the Search Warrant. It is not unusual to see as many as thirty people or even more initially charged with illegal gaming activities. Typically, the charges against many of these people will be dropped for a lack of evidence tying them to the Gambling.
In my experience as a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer these cases usually involve Wiretap Warrants. After obtained a Wiretap Warrant law enforcement officials continuously monitor the content of telephone calls between the principles in the illegal business and their customers. The monitoring often goes on for months or at least until such time as the authorities believe that they have enough evidence to make arrests and/or apply for a Search Warrant. Sometimes the best way to defend one of these cases is to attack the constitutionality of the Massachusetts Wiretap Warrant. If successful all conversations will be suppressed as will the fruits of those conversations, meaning the Massachusetts Search Warrant.
The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman has won Motions to Suppress Searches and Motions to Suppress Unlawful Wiretaps in Massachusetts and other jurisdictions. If you get arrested, if you are a suspect in a crime or if you have to go to court you need a lawyer. We can help you. Call us at 617-263-6800 or email us at anytime. We will protect your rights.