Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota said Friday that two convicted drug dealers are being released from prison as a result of an ongoing review of more than 100 arrests by an officer who belonged to the 's now-defunct street crimes unit.
While Spota said his office has gathered information that affects the credibility of the unnamed officer, published reports and a source familiar with the matter claim a member of the street crimes unit was addicted to drugs.
Defense attorney Sue Menu, who represents Bernard Cooks, 31, of Southampton, said her client and another man, Mohammed Proctor, 36, of Riverside, are the two being released from prison. Menu said both men had taken plea deals in felony drug possession cases, but their pleas were vacated this week and the district attorney's office moved that their indictments be dismissed "in the interest of justice."
Cooks was of a North Sea house, in which police said they recovered evidence including crack cocaine, marijuana, pills, scales and packaging material.
Cooks was serving a sentence of two and a half to four and a half years, Menu said.
Menu did not know specifically why the cases were tossed out, but she said that the thrust of the reason is that the men's constitutional rights had been violated.
Southampton Town Police Chief William Wilson, who disbanded the street crimes unit after taking the helm of the department one year ago, has said the unit lacked administrative oversight. And recently, Lt. James Kiernan, the supervisor of the unit, was at Wilson's recommendation, though the reason for his suspension was not disclosed.
Days later, detectives with the DA's Government Corruption Bureau from containing files on every "confidential personnel police investigation from the police department from the years 1990-2009."
"Our preliminary review focused on incarcerated defendants," Spota said. "As a result two defendants charged with felony narcotics offenses had their convictions vacated ... They will be released from prison."
Spota said his office is still reviewing both pending and closed cases, which will likely end in more cases once handled by the street crimes unit being dismissed.
"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 made by former town and police officials," Spota said. "Rather, we are duty bound under the law to take this action."
Menu said the district attorney's office moved very quickly to see that they were released from prison, though she said that Cooks was returned to upstate prison outside Albany after his court appearance to deal with a parole issue before being released.
Wilson could not be immediately reached for comment.