Man Convicted of Felony Drug Possession

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YoloCourt-27by Abigail Soler

On Friday morning, February 19, Joseph Ferriero appeared in court with his wife and attorney, Richard Dudek, to await the jury’s verdict. The jury spent just over an hour in the deliberation room.

At 10:45am the jury entered the courtroom with the verdict. They had elected Juror 12 as the foreperson.

Juror 12 handed the verdict form to the bailiff, who delivered the sheet to the clerk to read aloud before the courtroom.

The jury returned a guilty verdict for count one, felony possession for sale of drugs. In this case, the illegal drug was methamphetamine.

Following the verdict, Ferriero’s wife burst into tears and began to say, “I’m sorry, I did this,” referring to her prior admission in testimony. Ferriero stipulated and agreed to enhancements.

The jury panel was dismissed and thanked for their services.

Deputy District Attorney Larry Eichele requested that the defendant be remanded into custody immediately, due to the charges and the amount of time that he had already been out of custody. Judge Rosenberg granted the motion.

Dudek agreed but requested that the defendant be able to embrace his wife before being taken into custody. Judge Rosenberg denied the request, but permitted Ferriero to turn around and say a few words to his wife.

Ms. Ferriero was sobbing, and apologizing to her husband. His response was, “I love you.” The defendant was then taken into custody.

Mr. Ferriero will be sentenced on March 24 at 10am, at the Yolo Superior Court.


Twist in Felony Possession of Meth for Sale Case – Wife Says the Meth Was Hers

By Tiffany Yeh

Defendant Joseph Ferriero is charged with felony possession of methamphetamine for sale. Deputy District Attorney Larry Eichele and Defense Attorney Richard Dudek are representing the respective parties, and Judge David Rosenberg is presiding over Department 14.

The trial resumed today with Davis Police Officer Ryan Bellamy continuing his testimony. But more interestingly, the defendant’s wife came out saying that the meth in the Ferriero house belonged to her, not to Mr. Ferriero.

When the defendant first arrived at his home, the officers, who were already there on the scene, searched Mr. Ferriero. They then looked at his phone, subsequently putting the phone out of Ferriero’s reach. Officer Bellamy stated that he does not usually note whether the phone rings during the search. In this case, he had not confiscated the phone after the search ended.

According to the officer, two of the people staying at the Ferriero house made statements possibly alluding to Mr. Ferriero’s drug sales. One woman stated that Ferriero spends a lot of time in the garage, while another one stated that she tries to ignore the people that come to the house and the activity that goes on – she just tries to walk outside and leave when the visitors come.

When questioned, the officer stated that that there was nothing to indicate that there was bartering of meth for stuff other than cash. The officer also stated that giving away drugs is just as toxic as selling drugs.

Toward the end of the interview between the police officers and Mr. Ferriero during the search of the house, Ferriero had told the officers that the drugs in the bedroom belonged to him, that he was not a drug dealer, and added that he might give some away, but that he doesn’t deal or sell them.

The defendant’s wife has been arrested in the past, with the defendant, for selling drugs, according to DDA Eichele. The prosecution also mentioned something about the defendant’s wife’s criminal record.

During the search of the house, another man visited the house. This man was arrested then, also for narcotics. The prosecution seemed to insinuate that he was there to distribute meth as well, based on the amounts of meth he had on him. He had two “quarters,” one in each pocket. It seemed they were referring to one-fourth of an ounce of meth. It is alleged that this man was dropping off these amounts to the defendant.

One to two hours after the defendant had arrived back at his house, this other man was arrested by a YONET (Yolo Narcotics Enforcement Team) agent.

During the search, the officer did not collect the defendant’s phone as part of the evidence because the officer intended to work with the defendant in the future to get other drug contacts. The defendant would work for the officer, helping him in drug stings, basically.

The officer stated that he “very strongly believes that Joe’s meth in his room is to distribute and to sell and use.”

Separate bindles of meth were found in different drawers in the defendant’s room, but in same general area. The bindles were in separate types of packaging. A 0.5-gram meth bindle was wrapped in a piece of folded paper and was loose in the sock drawer. A 1-gram meth bindle was found in the sock drawer and was wrapped in a yellow Ziploc packaging; this was found inside a sock.

The officer also took a picture of a blue dress sock; he stated that it looked to be a man’s sock and that, therefore, the sock drawer and socks belonged to a male.

A bulk 6-gram package of meth was found in a different area of the room. The meth was wrapped in plastic, with a twist at the top in a knot.

The officer stated that it is very common for meth to be sold in 1/16 oz., 1/8 oz., 1/4 oz., 1/2 oz., or 1 oz. portions. A pipe was also found somewhere in the house. A scale with white meth crystal residue on it was also found inside the house.

One piece of plastic that looked like it had been a sandwich bag at one point was found (this looked like it had been torn open.)

In a picture the officer had taken, shards of meth were there because the officer had knocked the paper packaged meth bindle over a bit and then the officer gathered and put those meth shards back in.

Another picture he took was of the top of a dresser, and what looked to be knocked-over foot powder next to a bottle of Gold Bond Foot Powder. A burnt piece of paper towel and baby powder were also in the picture. This picture seemed to be of the defendant’s dresser.

There was a little bit of discussion about the defendant’s job status (he was not working), disabled since the search and arrest in 2013.

The officer brought up the “Costco defense,” which is the idea that people may buy drugs in bulk too, just like people buy other stuff in bulk.

Seven grams of meth is a considerable amount. The defendant had stated at one point, in the questioning during the search, that he could consume that amount of meth in a couple of weeks.

The defense brought up the point that the defendant is over fifty years old and owns his own home. Maybe he just wanted to buy meth fewer times and decided to purchase some meth all at once.

The defense motioned to dismiss the case for lack of evidence, which the judge denied. This was outside the presence of the jury.

Before the defendant’s wife testified in court, Ferriero’s lawyer had requested a consultation with a public defender or a conflict attorney, regarding the wife’s representation. Deputy Public Defender Stephen Betz was in conflict because he had represented the defendant in a prior case. Bob Spangler ended up being the consultant for Ms. Ferriero for a couple of minutes.

After the consultation, Ms. Ferriero testified in court.

Next came the shocker in court, whether observers believed it or not, as Ms. Ferriero stated that all the meth found in the Ferriero house during the search in 2013 was hers, not Mr. Ferriero’s.

She has been married to Mr. Ferriero for 20 years and has known him for even longer. In August of 2013, their house in Davis was searched. They had been there in that house for a little over four years.

The defense showed Ms. Ferriero a picture and she identified the desktop computer, printer, desk, and pen holder in the picture as hers. Defense then showed her a different picture, which she identified as a different desk, glasses, calculator, lamp, foot spray, and pen holder.

She was just leaving her house to go grocery shopping when the officers arrived. Once she reached the parking lot of the grocery store, Davis police, with guns, told her and her two friends to get out of her vehicle. She was patted down, put in handcuffs, and taken back to the house.

Officers were present in the Ferriero house, with walkie talkies, searching the house, and running around, and the SWAT team entered the house.

During the search of the Ferriero house, Ms. Ferriero was asked questions by the officers (at the beginning, she was alone, and later she and her husband were together for a bit).

Ms. Ferriero was questioned in the back room of the house. Later, she was told to sit on the living room couch.

When Mr. Ferriero arrived at the house, he was questioned by the officers in the back room of the house, separate from his wife.

Once or twice, both Ferrieros were in the same room and able to talk to each other.

When asked about the drugs on the witness stand, Ms. Ferriero cried a bit when saying that the drugs were hers and that her husband had not known that there were drugs in the house. Again, there were 7 grams of meth, a little over a quarter of an ounce, in the house.

At the time in 2013, she did not tell the officers that the drugs were hers.

The prosecution asked Ms. Ferriero to describe what meth looks like. She answered that meth looks like shards, crystal-like, that it looks like broken glass. The large package of meth was in a plastic bag, tied in a knot, a plastic ball. Some packages were put in a sock somewhere else, and some were lying on a piece of plastic.

She admitted to using a lot of meth, probably a couple grams a day. She smokes with a glass pipe. She had a glass pipe in the drawer (her drawer.) A lighter and maybe a straw is used to smoke meth.

Ms. Ferriero described weighing meth on a scale to be sure she was getting the right amount for the amount she paid.

She estimated that she would  put a little over a gram (not weighed) into a glass pipe at each usage, light it, and then smoke or inhale it once it melted.

When asked about a 1996 police report with her name on it, she denied it. She admitted to having search warrants done on her property before.

This time in 2013, it was a surprise when “people with masks, have guns, tell you what to do.” The prosecution mentioned in the report that several times, Ms. Ferriero had denied that the meth was hers. At this point, the defense charged the prosecution with prosecutorial misconduct, with the jury still present. The judge said there was no prosecutorial misconduct here, and he mentioned that again outside the presence of the jury.

Ms. Ferriero maintained that, during the search, she was never asked if the meth was hers. She stated that the search “seems like forever” (meaning the amount of time of the search), and she said it was around four or five hours.

She was able to speak with her husband in private, and her husband’s reaction, according to Ms. Ferriero, was “what is going on here?”

She stressed during her testimony that she was never asked in 2013 whether the meth was hers.

She made a recent statement to the defense investigator around February 10 of this year. She told the investigator the meth was hers. She also told her husband and mother that the meth belonged to her.

The prosecution queried why she was only saying this now. “I’m doing something now,” was her response.

Ms. Ferriero said, “I knew I was going to jail,” and then mentioned that they kept telling her she wasn’t going to jail but that she knew she was.

Before testifying today, she had not received the police reports or documents. She had talked to her husband’s defense attorney and her husband about it, about what to do.

“What can I do to make this right?” Ms. Ferriero asked.

There were court dates in the past, but she was unaware of the purposes for each date.

The particular bag (6 grams) of meth during the 2013 search was bought by her from her cousin for $200. Her cousin had died in December. Her voice cracked as she said this and she was crying periodically as she testified.

She would drive to her cousin’s place to buy meth. She said that she was not selling meth and her husband was not selling meth. “My husband didn’t know I had it.”

She stated that she had two meth pipes (one was broken or cracked but she hadn’t gotten around to tossing it.) She had meth in two drawers also. One was for when she ran out, she might have forgotten she had that bindle of meth, then she would have that still. She describes it as a “drug thing.”

About the scale, she stated wanting “to get what I paid for” and that “it’s an ugly world.” At this point, she was crying more.

Ms. Ferriero described buying meth, dumping it on her scale without the packaging and weighing it.

She stated she was not ever arrested for selling drugs with her husband. She stated she never  served a prison term for selling drugs.

For the drug charge in the past, Ms. Ferriero described the charge as being for manufacturing meth in Sacramento. Over the past twenty years, she has used meth but has not sold meth. She reiterated she was never arrested with her husband for selling drugs.

Her friend and the friend’s son had been staying with Ms. Ferriero for two days or so when the search occurred. The friend and son did not know anything about drugs. Ms. Ferriero had never used meth with her friend. She would only use meth by herself.

Ms. Ferriero described being in between jobs during 2013. Her husband had had side jobs.

Outside of the presence of the jury, DDA Eichele expressed outrage at having been accused of prosecutorial misconduct by Mr. Dudek, especially in front of the jury. Eichele said that the defense sought to curry favor with the jury by doing what he did. Eichele requested sanctions against Dudek. Dudek replied, “Absurd.” Judge Rosenberg stated that he would rule on this prosecutorial misconduct motion later.


Closing Arguments

By Lindsay Christenson

On February 18, the Ferriero trial resumed to finish the testimony of Ms. Ferriero, the defendant’s wife, and to hear the closing arguments of both sides. The trial concluded as the jury went into deliberation for the remainder of the afternoon.

The afternoon began as Ms. Ferriero underwent examination from both DDA Larry Eichele and from Defense Attorney Richard Dudek. Ms. Ferriero claimed that her husband, the defendant, did not know the drugs were in their home and that she had never smoked methamphetamine in front of him – she did not want him to know she had relapsed. She said she loved him, but claimed she would not lie for him, that she was in court to tell the truth.

Ms. Ferriero also stated that she did realize that she could be punished for her testimony, and that she has testified in an attempt to make the situation right. She said she did not come forward earlier because, when you are high and hiding it, you will do whatever you have to do to continue hiding it.

Next, each side gave their closing arguments, beginning with Mr. Eichele. He argued that there was only one issue, and that was whether the amount of meth found in the home was for personal use or for sales. He believed the drugs were there with the intent to be sold, as evidenced by the packaging, the amount, and the scale present. He also stated that this particular case simply boils down to which statement to believe, as there are conflicting statements from Ms. Ferriero and, as a result, this case is very inferential. He said that the jury should disregard Ms. Ferreiro’s testimony because she has provided inconsistent statements, and her testimony was not reasonable or believable. Eichele also mentioned how the witness had been no stranger to the justice system in the past, and the fact that she waited so long to come forward with her admission says something about its validity.

Finally, the People concluded in saying that the defendant’s original offer to work off the charges proves his guilt. If he had not know what was going on in his house, it would not be reasonable to immediately enter into a negotiation as he did.

Next, Mr. Dudek provided his closing arguments. He stated that it is not about whom you believe, but rather it is about following the guiding principles of the legal system that dictate how the jury should make their conclusions. He emphasized, to a great extent, the importance of believing the defendant innocent until the People meet their burden, and only to convict the defendant as guilty if they possess proof beyond a reasonable doubt. He reviewed the fact that Mr. Ferriero had come home to find police in his home and, upon being asked about the discovered drugs, he had responded, telling the officers to ask his wife. Dudek argued that the defendant’s initial statements admitting the drugs were his was a response to his belief that everyone would be arrested if he denied the allegation, and that he would be arrested either way.

Mr. Dudek argued that the officer present was not used to dealing with men of Ferriero’s age and that he has a bias and it was reflected in his testimony. He again emphasized the values of the U.S. government upon which the legal system is based, the importance of the presupposition of innocence, and the need for proof beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict.

The People responded to these claims in rebuttal by saying that Dudek had made many valid points regarding the legal system, but clarified that the jury could convict both Ms. and Mr. Ferriero of possession, it did not have to be one or the other. He stated that initially both husband and wife had been pointing the finger at one another, until the defendant took the blame. However, Ms. Ferriero’s statement and story did not make sense in many regards and the fact that she could not accurately articulate some of the relevant facts proves this. He asked the jury to focus on the defendant’s initial reaction when confronted by the police officer: he had looked defeated and not at all surprised to find them there, which the prosecution called “telling,” regarding the true situation. Again, he stated that the defendant’s offer to work it off was unreasonable and he asked the jury to return a guilty verdict based upon all present and relevant evidence and facts.

The trial concluded for the day as the 12 jurors left to deliberate. Their deliberation will resume on the morning of February 19.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch puts 8 to 12 interns into the Yolo County House to monitor and report on what happens. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org

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