SALEM — A Peabody mother who police say left her 11-year-old son standing alone in tears on a Salem street and drove off drunk with her other son was the one crying yesterday as she was sent to jail.
Cheri Cordero, 40, of 5 Lake Ave., Peabody, pleaded not guilty to charges of second-offense drunken driving and child endangerment at her arraignment yesterday in Salem District Court, where prosecutors sought not only to hike her original $500 cash bail but asked that her bail in four other pending court cases be revoked.
Cordero, it turns out, had been awaiting trial for alleged restraining order violations, as well as a criminal harassment case.
Judge Robert Brennan went along with the request to revoke her bail in the prior cases and increased her bail in the drunken-driving case to $5,000 cash. Even if she comes up with the bail, she cannot be released until she resolves the other pending cases. Then, she'll be confined to her home and required to wear an alcohol monitoring bracelet called a "Sobrietor," Brennan ordered.
Cordero was taken into custody in the courtroom, crying and looking back toward her elderly mother, Joan, who now has custody of her two boys, 9 and 11. Cordero will be held at the state prison for women in Framingham.
Cordero herself had regained custody of her sons just this month, on July 9, her Probate Court lawyer, Jean Porcello-Guisto, confirmed yesterday.
Porcello-Guisto described Cordero as a good mother.
"She feels awful," said the lawyer, who is not representing her in the criminal case.
Her lawyer in the criminal case, Peter Lawton, said that the boys' father, David Pare, recently left the state.
Prosecutor Colleen Cashman, who had asked for an even higher bail of $25,000 cash, told Brennan that Cordero immediately began pointing the finger at her sons when confronted by police Sunday night, telling officers they both have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and were "out of control."
Cashman said Cordero admitted to the officers, Gil Priddy and Sgt. Robert Lubas, that she had left him behind but "wanted to teach him a lesson."
She also denied drinking.
But both boys told police that their mother had been drinking beer, mixed drinks with rum and Champagne all day on a friend's boat.
And witnesses backed up the older boy's account of Cordero's Cadillac Escalade "screeching to a stop," letting the boy out and then speeding off erratically, Cashman told the judge.
Two women on a nightly walk through the neighborhood saw the boy alone on the sidewalk, crying, the prosecutor said.
"My mom is drunk," Cashman quoted the boy as saying.
A third witness, a woman in an apartment nearby, told police she saw the boy running after the SUV, yelling, "No, Mom, no, Mom," and crying.
"It's clear she has a drinking problem that has not been resolved and she does pose a danger to the community," Cashman told the judge.
Lawton said Cordero "vehemently" denies the police report, then suggested that the boys were "acting out" due possibly to emotional disorder or "heat stroke."
"If in fact the child left the vehicle, he did so on his own," Lawton said.
Cordero is also awaiting trial in an incident last month in which she allegedly violated a restraining order taken out by the boys' father by calling his parents' house repeatedly and calling her younger son on his cell phone. (That order has since been lifted.)
She is also awaiting trial on charges of criminal harassment after allegedly repeatedly calling and once following a 40-year-old Peabody woman who had befriended the boys' father last year, threatening her if she continued the relationship.
Cordero allegedly made calls to the woman referring to her with vulgarities and warning her she would "tear apart your life piece by piece" and followed her to a 7-Eleven in Peabody, yelling expletives and "You're all done."
Cordero is due back in court on Aug. 12.