On October 11, 2007 an undercover detective from the Broome County Sheriff’s Office in New York was advised by a confidential informant that a man who went by the street name of “Ace” was selling cocaine. He provided the detective with a cell phone number of the man. The detective called the cell phone and made arrangements to meet with “Ace” for the purpose of buying some cocaine.
After getting off of the phone, the officer looked up all of the known drug dealers in the area that used the street name, “Ace.” There were three persons who were using that name. The detective went to the location that was agreed upon and “Ace” approached the passenger side of his car. He leaned in and exchanged a small “knotted wrap” baggy of cocaine for $50 cash from the detective. They had a short conversation and the dealer left. The drugs tested positive for cocaine.
On October 25, 2007, the detective again contacted “Ace” on a cell phone and made arrangements to meet with him to purchase cocaine again. The officer advised that this time, they met in a location that was in close proximity to a school. This time when “Ace” came to his car, he got in the passenger side. The officer advised that he purchased the drugs from the same person calling himself “Ace” each time. This time, they exchanged the cash for the drugs inside the vehicle. The detective was then asked to drive “Ace” to a different location which he did.
The detective then obtained warrants for the dealer and he was arrested for criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree and criminal sale of a controlled substance in or near school grounds. The dealer was found guilty in a bench trial for both crimes.
Prior to sentencing, the dealer wrote two letters to the judges which were interpreted by the County Court as a motion to set aside the verdict. The court denied the motion and went ahead to sentencing. The dealer then appealed the verdict with the claim that the evidence was insufficient to convict him and that his convictions were against the weight of the evidence. He argued that the officer was mistaken in his identification of the dealer. He stated that the person who actually sold drugs to the detective was a different dealer who was known to use the street name, “Ace.”
The detective advised that he had ample opportunity to get a good look at the dealer in that he leaned into his car at the first meeting and had a conversation with him. On the second meeting, he actually got in to the detectives car and drove with him to a different location. The detective further stated that he is quite sure of his identification in that he has also arrested the “other” Ace for dealing drugs on October 16, 2007.
The Supreme Court finds that the officer’s testimony as to the identification of the dealer is valid and convincing in that he met with the man on two different occasions. He reviewed pictures of all of the dealers using the street name, “Ace” prior to meeting with the dealer the first time. Further convincing testimony was in the evidence that the detective was familiar with the other dealer that this one was trying to implicate. Additionally, the detective provided convincing testimony as to the fact that dealers in the area often share street names and cellular phones in an effort to confuse prosecution cases and bring up questions of true identity.
The Supreme Court upheld the convictions.
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