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May 25, 2012 5:32 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Two Convicted Drug Dealers Released From Prison; D.A. Cites 'Credibility' Of Arresting Street Crime Unit Officer

May 29, 2012 10:23 AM

UPDATE: Friday 9:11 p.m.

Mohammed Proctor, one of two convicted drug dealers to be released from prison, had lost custody of his two young children upon his sentencing two years ago, his attorney, Laura Solinger, said on Friday night.

One of the first things he asked her upon hearing the news of his release was how he could get his children back and how he was thrilled to be able to return home to an elderly father, she said.

Ms. Solinger noted that she was not aware of the specific reasons for the dismissal of the criminal case that put him in prison, but spoke of the rarity of having convictions tossed.

“I’ve been a defense attorney for 20 years, and I’ve never gotten a call from an [assistant district attorney] saying, ‘We’ve got a dirty cop and we’re dismissing all your cases,’” she said. “This was surprising and welcome, certainly, for my client.”

Mr. Proctor’s April 2010 arrest that landed him in prison involved him selling cocaine and marijuana out of his home­—and using his underage son as a lookout, Southampton Town Police said at the time. After obtaining a search warrant, police said they found more than 11 grams of crack cocaine, approximately 16 grams of marijuana, several Vicodin pills, a scale, packaging material, an electric stun gun and approximately $7,000 in cash.

He had also been arrested in November 2009 by New York State Police and accused of assaulting a man who owed him money for a drug deal, according to authorities.

UPDATE: Friday 5:53 p.m.

The two convicted drug dealers to be released from prison are Bernard Cooks, 31, of Southampton, and Mohammed Proctor, 36, of Riverside, according to Susan Menu, the defense attorney who was in Suffolk County Criminal Court in Riverside on Friday for the official dismissal of the charges, and who represented Mr. Cooks throughout his case.

Mr. Proctor should be released today, and Mr. Cooks is expected to be released this weekend, once a parole violation is sorted out, she said.

Such a dismissal of convictions is highly unusual, Ms. Menu said.

“They’re thrilled to have their liberty restored,” she said. “It’s a very, very big thing. They’re also grateful to the district attorneys, because they moved so quickly to correct an obvious injustice.”

She said she does not know the nature of the injustice, although The Press has previously reported that a member of the Street Crime Unit is accused of continuing to work despite having developed an addition to drugs himself, and that his unit’s supervisor is accused of helping to protect him.

Both Mr. Cooks and Mr. Proctor had been convicted of felony possession of a controlled substance.

Mr. Cooks was arrested in a Street Crime Unit raid in January 2011 on a North Sea home. It was not his first criminal arrest: In a 2005 arrest, Southampton Town Police said he was one of three men who violently robbed a North Sea family, while brandishing machetes and replica handguns.

Southampton Town Police Chief William Wilson Jr., who transferred to the Town Police in May 2011, began phasing out the Street Crime Unit last summer and completely disbanded it by November 2011. He said recently that he had launched an internal investigation into the unit after information developed about six months ago that caused him “great concern in reference to the operations of the Street Crime Unit,” calling the matter a “public safety concern.”

Town officials have confirmed that prior to suspending Lieutenant James Kiernan earlier this month on 32 disciplinary charges mostly related to his supervision of the Street Crime Unit, Chief Wilson had recommended to the Southampton Town Board that Lt. Kiernan’s probationary period as a lieutenant be ended, but the Southampton Town Board did not take action.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Two convicted drug dealers will be released from prison because of a problem with the “credibility” of an arresting Southampton Town Police officer who was assigned to the now-disbanded Street Crime Unit, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota’s office announced late Friday afternoon.

More than 100 arrests involving the officer are under review, and additional cases are anticipated to be dismissed, the D.A.’s office said.

The two convicts, who were charged with felony narcotics offenses, had their convictions vacated and their indictments dismissed. Robert Clifford, a spokesman for the D.A., said his office declined to identify the men now that they are cleared and innocent in the eyes of the law.

“The decision to release convicted drug dealers back into the community under these circumstances is not undertaken lightly and is made free from political consideration or favor, contrary to recent assertions made by former town and police officials. Rather, we are duty bound under the law to take this action,” Mr. Clifford said in an emailed statement.

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Just because the PO had substance abuse issues does not mean that these people were wrongly convicted. Unfortunately, we will have to wait until they recommit a crime and hope that no violent crimes occur against the citizens. Sounds to me that the DA should set a higher bar here than the cop was addicted. OK, but prove to us that the rest of the evidence is tainted. If so, fine. The officer had problems and his supervisor mishandled the situation and that has to be remedied by the police department. ...more
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on May 25, 12 6:55 PM
Jury's decisions were based on skewed facts presented by DA.
Case was dismissed; therefore, no retry and this is very bad.



By ron sport (14), southampton on May 26, 12 11:13 AM
2 members liked this comment
Retrying the same case would be an exercise in double jeopardy. The case has already been heard and a sentencing handed down. If you want both of these men in prison again, they will have to commit another unlawful act and obviously get caught.

Now, since the charging PO has/had substance abuse issues it can be easily argued that the charging officer was unfit for duty. If the charging officer is not of the right mind, the facts presented during the trial by said PO may be corrupted, wrong, ...more
By MegaThorpe (2), Fredonia on Jun 6, 12 7:07 AM
Should we feel safer with the results of this preliminary review/comments??
It appears that we are totally focused on not holding reported drug dealers
and we allow people to openly break our rule of law!!!
By East Ender (64), Southampton on May 25, 12 6:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
Actually the rule of law has not been broken. In fact the DA pretty much affirms that the rule of law is still around and kicking.

The way our justice system works is that to get tried by the state (the government by another word) you have to have sufficient evidence in order to prove the charges. The reasoning for this is that you don't want government officials (in this case Police Officers) fabricating charges just so that they can detain someone they don't like. This is not a perfect ...more
By MegaThorpe (2), Fredonia on Jun 6, 12 7:16 AM
It depends what they know about this PO. How badly was his credibility affected? If the convictions are based entirely on his testimony and the DA has information that the PO is not believable, for whatever reason, it may be the right decision. We don't know all the facts. This is a pretty extraordinary action, however.
By HB90 (164), southampton on May 25, 12 9:11 PM
2 members liked this comment
I completely agree, extraordinary action.
Correct, I don't have all facts but the defendants will likely have an affirmative defense of ENTRAPMENT.
By ron sport (14), southampton on May 26, 12 11:18 AM
My favorite part is they are not taking this lightly. Two drug dealer slash home invaders released back into the general population of this county is pretty stupid. If I remember right these two guys admitted to their crimes. Whoever is lucky enough to be these guys next victims make sure you sue the D A's office for playing "law and order" IN THE REAL WORLD. Good work
By chief1 (2800), southampton on May 25, 12 9:13 PM
2 members liked this comment
The law suits against the town are going to be interesting.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on May 25, 12 9:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
Just in time for a big weekend.
By workingmomof4 (21), Southampton on May 26, 12 12:09 AM
You heard this was coming....
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on May 26, 12 2:30 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By GoldenBoy (351), EastEnd on May 26, 12 7:10 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By azkaban77, Hampton Bays on May 26, 12 8:50 AM
How did the P.O.'s drug use get to point of serious addiction? Don't they piss test these guys?
By fish head (9), Southampton on May 26, 12 10:38 AM
1 member liked this comment
That's one of the hazards of that particular job -- and the lack of supervision of the officer's performance is probably one of the key elements of this latest issue.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on May 26, 12 2:59 PM
And union protection
By double-D (96), southampton on May 28, 12 5:22 PM
They test either once a year, OR when an incident happens that waarants it. More testing if they work for Home Depot.
By AlwaysLocal (292), southampton on May 30, 12 3:41 PM
Dont assume frank
By GoldenBoy (351), EastEnd on May 26, 12 4:26 PM
Hey!, all I know is what I read here, GB.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on May 27, 12 2:25 AM
Maybe you should broaden your horizons.
By jams (129), hampton bays on May 27, 12 7:48 AM
Defense attorneys will be scouring their files for cases with Kiernan's name on them. Another black eye for the DA's Office.
By lucy2 (63), Southampton, NY on May 27, 12 8:15 AM
Why a blackeye for the DA's office? The DA is the one cleaning up this mess.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on May 27, 12 9:16 AM
1 member liked this comment
Uses his kid for a lookout and now wants child custody restored. Father of the year.How many people wound up with a serious drug addiction because of these guys.Next time these guys get busted they'll claim they were targeted unfairly.And someone will plead their case.This makes me sick
By TianaBob (256), S.Jamesport on May 27, 12 2:54 PM
1 member liked this comment
Tiana Bob you don not know that for sure. That was an accusation by a "dirty" cop. I remember village cops accusing a kid of riding his bike on Main Street because the kid was actually walking the bike. The cops answer "Well he looked like he was about to get on a ride away". And Do Not blame serious drug addiction on the seller alone. YOU know drugs including alcohol are addictive. YOU know when You need to leave that stuff alone.
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on May 27, 12 3:23 PM
oh great, another uber-liberal jackass who pities the poor drug dealers. I hope the first house they come into when they open the cage is yours
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on May 27, 12 9:17 PM
its the only way idiots learn the truth. like when you liberals are against the death penalty until someone close to you is the murder victim. then its "off with his head!!" stay at home phil, you can be number 2
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on May 29, 12 7:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
I've reread the article and the posts. Seems to me y'all jump to conclusions easily. The Proctors I used to know and attend school with were very nice law abiding folks. and before you say it of course we all know all families have a black sheep in the pack.
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on May 27, 12 3:32 PM
Seriously summertime? They found enough drugs in the guys house to get the whole town high. How is that jumping to conclusions? Make no mistake, the guy is a criminal no matter how you slice it. It just sucks that this officers foolishness is causing criminals to be released.
By bubby (236), southampton on May 27, 12 8:01 PM
1 member liked this comment
Without more facts being released, this seems like a premature and bad decision.
By disinterested observer (4), Southampton on May 28, 12 9:06 AM
They did not release all the facts to the public. I doubt they woulld move to vacate without a good deal of investigation and consideration. WE don't know all the facts but I think the DA's office does.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on May 29, 12 4:26 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on May 28, 12 8:40 PM
I wonder if these two people will take this opportunity and get their acts together. I do know people who have done there time, come out with a record and managed to start over and live productive non crimminal lives. They are coming out with a clean slate (for the most part) I hope they realize that.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on May 29, 12 4:29 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on May 29, 12 6:26 PM
They are not coming out with clean slates.One has a conviction for a home invasion using a machete.The other with assault over a drug deal gone bad.The best for all is if these guys move far away.They will have money once they sue Southampton Town and we pay for it.
By TianaBob (256), S.Jamesport on May 30, 12 11:32 AM
I did say (for the most part)
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Jun 1, 12 1:50 PM
Seems to me that the TAXPAYERS are funding a very corrupt police department that is autonomous and buries things within, protect and serve themselves without reprimand until a squeaky wheel comes along and still the public is left in the dark and put into a precarious position with the release hardened crimminals and still the taxpayers are responsible to foot the bill for the OUTRAGEOUS SALARIES these crimminals we call PUBLIC SERVANTS earn!!!! Disgusting!!!!!!
By lursagirl (245), southampton on May 30, 12 1:20 PM
The only way that the DA would throw out all those convictions is if their was a possibility that the PO manufactured evidence against the alleged criminals.
By Walt (292), Southampton on May 30, 12 1:33 PM
Give me a break. They pulled a bag of cocaine out of the guy's rectum. Nice guy.
By concerned citizen (41), Hampton Bays on May 30, 12 1:42 PM
And they lied about it...on the police report...not good. Might be one of the reasons he got to walk.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Jun 1, 12 1:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
The county should take over the police dept ASAP.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on May 30, 12 1:44 PM
1 member liked this comment
Seems to me that perhaps we should keep the Police Chief and "oust " the town board!
By blbandit (21), Southampton on May 30, 12 2:07 PM
2 members liked this comment
So, exactly how are you related to Wilson?????
By concerned citizen (41), Hampton Bays on May 30, 12 6:14 PM
Concerned Citizen,
Are you off to Town Hall this morning to purchase Herman Lamison's house that is up for forclosure sale on the steps of Town Hall with your "9/11 disability retirement" money? Be careful they are looking into your dirty dealings next!
By sunnydays (43), Hampton Bays on May 31, 12 9:19 AM
The town board has this under control-they are meeting on June 12th to discuss this matter. Good job Anne
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on May 30, 12 5:30 PM
Bill keep up the great work. Keep our streets safe. Change is good to clean house and make things right moving forward.
By MR.? (8), southampton on May 30, 12 7:21 PM
Wowzers.
By bchgrl83 (52), Westhampton Beach on May 30, 12 8:08 PM
At first I was opposed to bring in an outsider as chief. I thought promoting from within was the way to go.Now it seems it was time for a change.It is a shame this reflects on the whole dept.
By shep (2), east quogue on May 31, 12 5:43 AM
Sad! It takes a few bad eggs to tarnish the entire departments reputation. Thank you Chief Wilson for cleaning house. Its about time someone did it.
By lifesaver (118), speonk on May 31, 12 8:15 AM
All I have ever heard about Chief Wilson is good. One of the "pulled up by his own boot straps" kind of person. Clean and decent.
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Jun 1, 12 2:45 PM
Anyone wishing to hear an educated and experienced Dr. speak about drugs and addiction go to YouTube and search Dr. Gabor Mate.
He is the author of the book "In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts"
By ICE (1214), Southampton on Jun 3, 12 12:30 PM
and now a 50 Mill lawsuit over a drug dealer who used his son as a lookout and was found with drugs in a place I would never mention. what is this liberal worl coming too?
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Jun 3, 12 6:02 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Jun 3, 12 6:02 PM