A Norfolk County Superior Court jury found Keely Johnson, a former Stoughton Court Officer guilty of two counts of distribution of Vicodin and violating the Massachusetts School Zone statute. The prosecution alleged that in July 2006 state police began investigating Johnson for selling Vicodin inside and outside the Stoughton District Courthouse where she served as a Court Officer. On July 28, 2006 Johnson sold 50 tablets of Vicodin to an undercover police officer. She did so while her seven year old son sat in her car in a parking lot adjacent to the location of the transaction. On August 3, 2006 Johnson sold the undercover officer more Vicodin tablets, this time at the courthouse which sits within one thousand feet of an elementary school. A Superior Judge sentenced Johnson to the mandatory two years in jail for the school zone conviction and to an additional three months in jail for the distribution convictions.
The Massachusetts School Zone statute makes it a crime to distribute, possess with the intent to distribute or traffic controlled substances within one thousand feet of a school zone. Anyone convicted of violating this statute must serve at least two years in jail. The maximum sentence for a conviction of this law is fifteen years in state prison. The school zone statute also makes is a crime to commit these acts within one hundred feet of a public park or playground.
In spite of the mandatory sentence connected with school zone violations, experienced criminal defense lawyers in Massachusetts often succeed in getting the prosecution to agree to dismiss the school zone offense in exchange for a plea to a lesser offense. This is done in cases where the person does not have a remarkable criminal background and there are circumstances that mitigate the criminal act. Trying the case is also an option. Our office has proven that the similar crimes were not committed within one thousand feet of a school zone thus eliminating the mandatory sentence that the prosecution sought to have imposed. On other occasions we have proven that our client did not commit the act regardless of what the police and prosecutor told the jury.
In Johnson’s case the defendant had an uphill battle. Her crimes were captured by the police on videotape. For more on Keely Johnson’s case read Brockton Enterprise Article August 15, 2008.
Stephen Neyman is an experienced Massachusetts drug crimes defense lawyer who knows how to defend people accused of violating the controlled substances laws and the Massachusetts School Zone statute.
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