Mass. man leaves jail in wake of drug test scandal
DEDHAM, Mass. (WHDH) -- A drug defendant has left jail one day after being allowed to withdraw his guilty plea in the wake of a scandal at a Jamaica Plain state drug-testing lab.
A judge on Thursday released 49-year-old David Danieli on personal recognizance and ordered him to return to court in November.
The formerly convicted drug dealer is believed to be the first defendant to leave a state lock-up since allegations surfaced that a former chemist mishandled tens of thousands of drug samples.
Danieli’s family members say it’s only fair.
“If the constitution isn’t upheld for one of us, the constitution is not upheld for anybody” said David Scher, Danieli’s future son-in-law.
Earlier on Thursday Danieli was in court in handcuffs, as he was three months ago when he pleaded to possession and trafficking in return for a 2 ½ year sentence.
The Quincy detectives who say they caught Danieli with 700 oxycodone pills and $4,000 in cash told 7News they are disturbed and frustrated that Danieli has been set free.
“We’re always worried about the public. Not saying that this individual will go back out there and re-offend, but it is a possibility,” said Lt. Patrick Glynn, Quincy Police Department.
The drugs police found were tested at the state drug lab by a chemist who now admits she mishandled many of the thousands of samples she tested.
Danieli’s case is the first where a conviction has been set aside and the jail defendant has been set free.
On Thursday, Governor Patrick introduced the former prosecutor and defense lawyer who will sift through the thousands of affected cases. The governor indicated he is more concerned about the people who are convicted and jailed with the now-questionable evidence than he is about public fears of those who may be set free.
“The general public wants justice to be done in given cases and that means that the evidence has got to be solid – it’s got to stand up. And in a case where the evidence doesn’t stand up, our system is about dealing with that. And that’s what we’re trying to do,” Governor Patrick said.
Danieli’s defense lawyer says the general public should not be worried about the 49-year-old old construction worker released with no bail.
“The prosecutor’s office and the court determined he is not a danger to society or anyone else and we’re happy to let him go without bail or any type of re-trial conditions,” said John Martin, defense attorney.
Danieli’s lawyer says that in other cases where the defendant is deemed a danger to society, the defendant will usually face more than just drug charges and therefore will stay jailed.
Danieli still faces drug charges but his lawyer thinks the evidence will be weaker than it once was.