Pubdate: Thurs, 13 May 1999
Source: New Haven Register (CT)
Copyright: 1999, New Haven Register
Author: William Kaempffer and JoAnne Viviano
Note: some interesting comments from an observer here.


NEW HAVEN - A prominent local defense attorney was arrested Wednesday after
being observed by undercover drug agents allegedly buying crack cocaine,
police said.

Richard P. Silverstein was arrested in Fair Haven at 4:30 p.m. after he
briefly tried to flee, according to police.

Authorities later impounded his Jaguar while he was being processed for drug
possession and other charges at police headquarters.

He was released after posting bond. The amount was unavailable late

According to police Capt. Brian Sullivan, narcotics officers with Reclaim
Our Cities Connecticut Youth, or ROCCY, were conducting surveillance near
the intersection of Ferry and Clay streets in Fair Haven when Silverstein
pulled up in his car.

"We were on a surveillance and he was observed buying" drugs, Sullivan said.
"Two members of the New Haven Police Department assigned to the ROCCY unit
made the arrest."

Before they could, however, Silverstein, 42, drove off and reportedly tried
to destroy the drugs, according to police.

"Subsequently, police did stop him. He was taken into custody and found in
possession of several pieces of crack cocaine," Sullivan said.

He faces counts of possession of narcotics, possession within 1,500 feet of
a school and interfering with a police officer.

A man who answered the telephone at Silverstein's law office said "no
comment" when asked about the charges.

Many who knew Silverstein described him as a dapper attorney with a quick

Silverstein is one of a handful of New Haven defense lawyers who regularly
try criminal jury cases in Superior Court in the city.

New Haven attorney William F. Dow III cautioned against jumping to
conclusions based on the arrest.

"If we've learned anything from recent history, it is that just because
somebody is arrested does not mean they are guilty," Dow said. "That's what
the Constitution provides and that's the way I look at charges like these."

He called Silverstein a "well-known, well-recognized" lawyer who "fights
fiercely for his clients."

Attorney Hugh F. Keefe, also of New Haven, said he was "very surprised" to
hear of the arrest.

"I regard him highly," Keefe said. "He is generally well-respected by
lawyers and he has had good success.

" . . . I just hope that, if there's a problem, it's treated immediately,"
Keefe added. "I question many times the involvement of the criminal justice
system in cases where there is a substance problem."

Silverstein this week has been working on jury selection in Superior Court
for the murder trial of his client, Roshawn Green. The trial is expected to
start on Monday.

Green, 17, of 685 Congress Ave., is charged in the January 1997 slaying of
Noel "Willito" Santiago, 16, near Congress Avenue and White Street.

Santiago was shot once in the head while a passenger in a vehicle driven by
his girlfriend, according to court documents.

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