SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

April 6, 2013

Twists of fortune land man on probation in drug case

(Continued)

His luck turned yet again. A Salem Superior Court judge ruled that police had gone too far when they looked through Collins’ car following that 2011 traffic stop. The judge threw out the evidence.

And then Collins had some more good luck. Annie Dookhan, a chemist at the state lab in Jamaica Plain, was accused of tampering with drug evidence. Her arrest opened the door for hundreds of drug defendants around the state to challenge their convictions.

And Dookhan, it turned out, was the chemist who had tested the drugs seized from Collins back in 2005.

Still, there was a chance the old case could be re-tried, because Peabody police still had the evidence and could have had it tested again.

But yesterday it all came to an end, when prosecutor Michael Patten and Collins’ lawyer, Russell Sobelman, reached an agreement under which Collins would plead guilty to a reduced charge of cocaine possession with intent to distribute and receive a two-year jail term, with a year of that time to be served and the balance suspended for six months.

Since Collins had already served more than a year in prison, he was free to walk out of court. He’ll spend six months on unsupervised probation.

Judge Timothy Feeley also ordered police to return the cooler from the 2011 case, as well as $2,200 in cash, to Collins.

Sobelman said Collins has turned his life around.

As he left court, Collins waved goodbye to a reporter, quipping, “I’m moving out of this county.”

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.

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