PITTSFIELD -- Two men who police say are street gang members are facing drug dealing charges after officers allegedly found $25,000 worth of heroin during a traffic stop.
Angel D. Lamboy, 36, of Lincoln Street, and Jose M. Rivera, 30, who is reportedly homeless, were stopped at about 5:15 p.m. Tuesday in the area of White Terrace in Pittsfield by members of the Berkshire County Anti-Gang Unit, which is made up of plainclothes officers from the Pittsfield Police and Berkshire County Sheriff's Office, according to a police probable cause report.
Police said the officers took note of the white Toyota Solara parked on West Street when a member of the Latin Kings street gang approached and exchanged a gang handshake with the driver. When the car drove off, the officers followed and after witnessing the vehicle speed and fail to signal when turning, they pulled the car over.
During a search of Lamboy, police allegedly discovered two large bags of bulk heroin weighing about 47 grams on him along with two knives and $56 in cash.
Rivera was allegedly found with 10 bags of heroin, three cellphones and $192 in cash.
Police said they recovered a total of about 50 grams of heroin, the equivalent of 2,500 individual bags worth about $25,000 on the street. Both defendants are "validated members" of the Latin Kings, police said.
According to the report, the officers were familiar with Lamboy as he was involved in an armed and masked bank robbery in Pittsfield in 2004.
Lamboy admitted he was the getaway driver in the armed bank heist on Dec. 22, 2004, of the Credit Union of the Berkshires at 744 Williams St., Pittsfield. Two masked men entered the business waving handguns and made off with about $26,000.
Lamboy pleaded guilty to numerous charges in February 2006 and was sentenced to 6 to 8 years in state prison.
Lamboy and Rivera pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court on Wednesday to charges of trafficking heroin over 36 to 100 grams and conspiracy to violate the drug laws. Lamboy also pleaded not guilty to speeding, failure to signal and failure to wear a seat belt.
First Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Paul J. Caccaviello pointed to Lamboy's criminal record and the nature of the charges in asking for $100,000 bail. In Rivera's case he asked for $50,000 bail, saying the defendant was possibly homeless and unlikely to show back up for court.
He said the case was strong and that a conviction of the trafficking charge alone carries a minimum mandatory 5 year state prison sentence.
Judge Thomas H. Estes held Lamboy, represented by attorney Joseph P. Colonna, on $25,000 cash or $250,000 surety bail.
Joshua C. Hochberg, representing Rivera, said his client had a bad heroin habit and was currently withdrawing from the drug.
The defendant had trouble standing during his arraignment and was given a seat. He appeared shaky and unwell.
The attorney said Rivera wasn't a drug dealer, only an addict and that this was a possession case. Rivera suffers from a brain injury that would likely render him incapable of counting money during a drug transaction, Hochberg told the court.
Estes released Rivera on personal recognizance with conditions he report to the probation department twice a week unless in drug treatment. Hochberg said his client would be going into drug rehabilitation.
The judge said Rivera's case was defensible and that he may have just been at the "wrong place at the wrong time."
Both defendants are due back in court on Aug. 20, but because of the severity charges, the case will likely be going to the grand jury.
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