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DanceSafe.org : Raves and Club Drugs in the News : US MA: School Drug Case Nets Pair
Pubdate: Wed, 23 Nov 2005
Source: Berkshire Eagle, The (Pittsfield, MA)
Contact: letters@berkshireeagle.com
Website: http://www.berkshireeagle.com/
Address: PO Box 1171, Pittsfield, MA 01202
Fax: (413) 499-3419
Copyright: 2005 New England Newspapers, Inc
Author: Nicole Sequino, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/find?199 (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/find?217 (Drug-Free Zones)
Referenced: http://www.mapinc.org/people/Sawin


PITTSFIELD - Two men snared in a controversial Great Barrington school-zone drug sting last year appeared before Berkshire Superior Court Judge Daniel A.  Ford yesterday.  One was sentenced to five years in jail and the other pleaded guilty to a charge of heroin possession. 

Jose Ramos Jr., 20, of Spruce Street, Great Barrington, received two separate sentences of 2 1/2 years in the Berkshire House of Correction after a jury found him guilty yesterday of distribution of cocaine, committing a drug violation within a drug-free school zone and conspiracy to violate drug laws.  Michael P.  Shea, 22, of Wellington Place, Boston, pleaded guilty to one count of possession of heroin yesterday. 

The jury of eight women and four men deliberated for three hours before returning the verdict against Ramos. 

Ford sentenced Ramos on the distribution and school zone charges.  He also ordered Ramos to remain on probation for five years after his release on the conspiracy charge, and to pay a $150 drug assessment fee and a $90 victim/witness assessment fee. 

Assistant District Attorney Richard M.  Locke said Ramos and a co-defendant, Ryan P.  Babcock, 20, of Park Street, Housatonic, had sold an undercover police officer a half-gram of cocaine for $40 on Jan.  22 in the parking lot of the former Taconic Lumber store on Main Street. 

The sale took place less than 1,000 feet from the Great Barrington Co-Operative Nursery School and the Searles Middle School, according to Locke.  Locke had sought two sentences of 3 1/2 years in state prison for Ramos.  He pointed to Ramos' juvenile record, which included numerous drug, assault, probation violation, larceny and vandalism offenses.  Ramos was also accused of raping a 16-year-old girl in June with whom he worked at a Lenox motel.  "When you see his record, judge, you'll see where I'm coming from," Locke said.  However, attorney Edmund St.  John III of Adams argued that Ramos is "a very troubled young man" who has endured the death of both his parents.  St.  John also noted that Ramos, who stands 5 feet 6 inches tall, would suffer in state prison.  "He'd be nothing but bait and meat," said St.  John. 

A tearful Ramos, who wore khakis and a striped shirt, had also asked Ford for leniency and to consider sending him to the county jail instead of state prison.  Ramos' aunt and family grew emotional sitting in the front pew.  "I haven't had a chance to prove myself," Ramos said.  "I'm just asking for a chance." In sentencing Ramos to five years in the house of correction, Ford denied St.  John's request for a stay until after the Thanksgiving holiday, and court officers took Ramos into custody. 

Babcock pleaded guilty in July to three counts of distribution of cocaine, two counts of selling drugs in a drug-free school zone, one count of conspiracy to distribute drugs, one count of possession of marijuana.  He was sentenced to serve a total of 4 to 6 years in state prison on the distribution and school zone charges. 

Sting operation The Great Barrington investigation, conducted by town police and the Berkshire County Drug Task Force, involved small-scale street sales of cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine from January to September in 2004.  The sting was instigated after police received complaints of violent incidents involving local youths, graffiti and alleged drug activity in the Taconic parking lot.  A total of 19 people were arrested in the sting operation in September 2004.  That includes Shea, whose sentencing will be delayed until he undergoes a court-ordered evaluation. 

Defense attorney Alexander Z.  Nappan had requested the court clinic evaluation of his client because he said Shea suffers from a psychiatric problem.  "I don't know what it is, but I have never encountered this in a client before," he told Ford. 

Assistant District Attorney Robert W.  Kinzer III told Ford that he would recommend a year in jail for the heroin charge.  However, Kinzer said he may ask for less time on that charge depending on the results of the evaluation.  Shea also faces one count of distribution of cocaine and committing a drug violation within a drug-free school zone, Kinzer noted.  He told Ford he would ask for an additional two years in jail on the school zone charge; the sentence from the heroin charge would run concurrent with that sentence. 

Shea, who wore khakis and a black shirt, appeared nervous and shaking during the hearing.  His family sat in the back of the courtroom.  Shea told Ford that he has been hospitalized for depression and heroin addiction.  According to Kinzer, Shea was found in possession of heroin and related paraphernalia in Great Barrington on Sept.  17, 2004. 

Most of the remaining cases from the sting operation are pending.  However, Alexandra Brenner, 18, of State Road, Great Barrington, pleaded guilty in July to one count of distribution of marijuana.  Her case was continued in Central Berkshire District Court without a guilty finding until March. 

Another defendant, Kyle Sawin, 18, of Otis, was found not guilty in September after being tried twice on charges of selling marijuana in a drug free school zone.  His first trial ended in a mistrial when the jury could not reach a verdict. 

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