Two years in jail for Pittsfield man who sold $40 of crack

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PITTSFIELD — A city man was sentenced to two years in jail Thursday for selling $40 of crack cocaine to undercover officers in 2017.

Adalberto Santana, 47, showed little reaction as a jury announced the guilty verdict on a charge of cocaine distribution. 

Closing arguments were made Thursday morning in the trial, which began Tuesday. The jury received the case shortly before 1 p.m. and delivered the verdict after deliberating for about an hour.

The central issue of the trial was whether Santana handed undercover officers a $40 bag of crack on Aug. 17, 2017, during a sting operation.

Santana's attorney, Joseph Zlatnik, disputed the version of events put forward by police and suggested his client was prosecuted based on an inaccurate and uncorroborated police report.

Zlatnik argued that members of the Berkshire County Drug Task Force, which performed the arrest, did not memorialize the events of that night with photos or recordings, despite having access to that equipment.

The only documentation, Zlatnik noted, was one police report, authored by Pittsfield police investigator Andrew Couture, who was also the only officer to testify before a grand jury in the case.

The defense's only witness, Santana's longtime partner, Simone Farnum, testified Wednesday and Thursday. She said she was the one who made the arrangements to get the crack for the undercover officers and she was the one who handed the bag to police in their undercover vehicle while both she and Santana were in the back seat.

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Also at issue was whether the undercover officers offered to let Farnum keep $10 worth of the crack rather than the $10 cash she says they offered her as compensation for arranging the deal or whether the $10 "pinch" was split from the crack rock at Santana's insistence.

At sentencing Thursday afternoon in Berkshire Superior Court, Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Stephanie Ilberg asked Judge John Agostini to consider a state prison sentence of 2 1/2 to 3 years.

She cited Santana's prior criminal record between 1998 and 2007, which includes convictions for larceny, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, resisting arrest and assault and battery on a police officer, among other charges.

Zlatnik asked for a sentence of four months of time already served, and noted that was the potential sentence being offered if Santana was willing to take a plea deal.

Zlatnik said his client decided to take the case to trial instead, adamantly denying the charge against him. He also noted most of his client's convictions were more than 10 years old, and that he was convicted of distributing a $40 rock of crack cocaine.

Santana was not a target of a narcotics investigation the night he was arrested, but instead became caught up in a routine street patrol within Pittsfield.

Agostini ordered Santana to serve a two-year sentence at the Berkshire Jail and House of Correction. Santana will receive credit for the 124 days he was in custody.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@berkshireeagle.com, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.


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