Cambridge Reacts to Judge’s Heroin Ruling
By Rachel DuShey
Boston University News Service
CAMBRIDGE — On Nov. 20, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will decide whether to proceed with the case against a Cambridge woman who was arrested for heroin possession here in January, along with two others, after a two-month investigation.
The case has already lost some traction given that on Oct. 17 a judge ruled that the 36 bags of heroin police found in the purse carried by Emma Frank, then 24 years old, cannot be used against her as evidence in court. Middlesex District Court Judge Severlin B. Singleton said the police involved did not have a warrant to search Frank.
Rather, Detective Angel Barbosa of the Special Investigation Unit had two affidavits to search only the home of Matthew A. Splaine at 70 Clarendon Ave., located off Mass. Ave., where Frank was visiting at the time of her arrest.
According to Frank’s testimony, she was taken without consent from the porch outside the home by a male policeman, frisked by a female policeman, handcuffed, and made to sit on a table. A male policeman then searched her bag and the purse inside it that contained the drugs.
“I never voluntarily consented to any search of my person or property,” reads the final statement from Frank’s motion to suppress the evidence.
Frank’s attorney, Jeff Travaline, pointed out that the warrant specifically prohibited the search of people present, and that it did not matter whether police brought Frank in to the crime scene or whether she walked in voluntarily.
“We are determining our next course of action, including deciding whether to appeal to the judge’s ruling,” said Stephanie Guyotte, spokesperson for the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office. “We feel that the evidence was gathered in a lawful way.”
Frank was carrying 5.6 grams of heroin in her purse, according to the complaint filed by Barbosa. She was arrested on four counts, including drug violation near a school.
Police also arrested Matthew Splaine, 34, for possession of 0.5 grams of heroin and an unlicensed Glock 17 pistol, and his brother Jonathan Splaine, 36, who also lived on Clarendon Ave., which is in North Cambridge. The arrests came after a two-month investigation, according to the warrant. Police also recovered $1,922 in cash.
Clarendon Ave. is on the border of Cambridge and Somerville and separated from Matignon High School, a private Catholic school, only by a fence that borders the school’s elevated playing field. An apartment building that houses many senior residents also borders Clarendon and Matignon.
Matignon Headmaster Thomas Galligani said he did not know about the arrests in January. “It’s everywhere so it doesn’t surprise me,” he said about drug activity. “A neighborhood may not even be aware of it. Some towns and cities hide it better.”
Galligani said drug education at Matignon takes the form of some activities run by the gym teacher and nurse throughout the year. He said the students, who take Theology of Religion class every day for each year of school, understand that they could be removed immediately if found to be involved with drugs.
“It’s a pretty safe little area around here, has been ever since I lived here. I think it’s cut off enough,” said Galligani. He said parents have not brought up the issue with the school.
The Matignon Parents Group deferred comment to Galligani. “They leave that up to us,” he said.
One parent recently waiting outside the school for his child said he did not know about the arrests and is not concerned. He said he and his child are from Arlington and are not involved with Cambridge affairs.
A resident of Clarendon Ave. recently walking home said she knew about the “gray house” for “drug addicts.” She expressed gratitude that police raided it and dissatisfaction with “crooked” city officials.
“I grew up on this street. It wasn’t that way then,” she said. “I’d be careful with your pocketbooks.”