A federal judge has rejected a deal by federal prosecutors and the lawyer for East Side Money Gang member Jose Perez Jr. that he be released to home confinement in Lynn while he awaits trial on charges he violated probation on a gang-related gun conviction by getting arrested on new drug and gun charges.
The US Attorney's office in Boston supported Perez's request for pre-trial release from the Plymouth County Correctional Facility because he has a moderate case of asthma, which the CDC says means he could be at risk for serious complications should he contract Covid-19.
Perez is there pending trial on charges related to the two loaded guns, cocaine and pound of marijuana state troopers say they found in his car after he was pulled over for speeding and tailgating in 2018 - just three months after he was released form state custody for illegally selling guns as a member the Chelsea-based East Side Money Gang.
In a ruling on Wednesday, US District Court Judge David Hennessy sided with the federal probation office, which opposed his proposed pre-trial arrest, noting Perez got into alleged trouble despite the fact he was wearing a court-ordered GPS device and active supervision by parole officers.
Despite this level of supervision, Mr. Perez Jr. reverted to new criminal activity. Based on his history and poor adjustment to supervision, we don’t support his release to the community at this time.
In his ruling, Hennessy built on the probation report and concluded that Perez's behavior after his 2018 release - which, in addition to the arrest included getting East Side knuckle tattoos - only predict future trouble should he be allowed out before trial:
I expect that on release Perez will resume gang activities, participate in drug distributions, possess stolen, defaced, loaded handguns, and generally violate the law, as the evidence suggests he did while on supervised release and state probation, which was monitored by GPS. Perez has no regard for the law, the safety of others, or the efforts by the courts to deal leniently with him. His release will pose a danger to those with whom he lives, the community, and the police and Probation, already strained by current circumstances, when called upon to deal with Perez.
Hennessy also dismissed the Covid-19 concerns - and other health concerns Perez raised, including a recent 30-pound weight loss he said was caused by an ongoing intestinal ailment.
While I am sympathetic to the valid health concerns of an asthmatic during the pandemic, I do not find that the pandemic and the risks it poses for Perez change the detention decision. Perez is already following CDC guidance. His medical records report that he uses an inhaler. The record reflects no shortage of Albuterol or other asthma medications at PCCF. Presumably, Perez is avoiding asthma triggers. The Government’s submission shows that PCCF aggressively cleans housing units, has reduced the number of prisoners attending meals and using recreation areas simultaneously, provides staff and prisoners with masks, educates staff and prisoners on hygiene and social distancing, and isolates new prisoners. Indeed, Perez wore a mask for the detention hearing from PCCF. This is an appropriate response that protects Perez’s health, even during the pandemic.
Hennessy continued that Perez's proposed home before trial, a two-story apartment he would share with his girlfriend's aunt and her two adult children in a house, where "people come and go," could prove Covid-risky as well, so:
While release to the apartment would help social distancing, on balance I find that risk of danger Perez poses to the safety of others outweighs the medical benefit of better social distancing opportunities that may be realized from his release.
Hennessy also discounted Perez's concerns about other ailments, writing that the medical records Perez produced to prove he has them also showed the jail was responsive to them:
Perez been placed in observation in the medical unit and transported to Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Plymouth. Doctors and other medical providers have timely tested his blood and urine, conducted physical tests and exams, collected fecal samples, prescribed and administered medications, ordered a therapeutic diet, and generally have responded to Perez’s complaints. It may be that Perez is dissatisfied; however, the records fail to show that the round-the-clock care available to Perez at PCCF is lacking and warrants his release, especially considering my assessment that Perez poses a danger to others.