A federal judge yesterday denied a request by a man facing 11 armed-robbery counts that he be allowed to await trial at his mother's home in Chelsea due to health issues that might put him at risk of complications should he contract Covid-19 behind bars, ruling he would prove too much of a potential menace to society - and that given he is facing serious time behind bars, he would prove too much of a flight risk.
Rigoberto Ramirez has been in detention since his arrest in March, 2019 on charges that he and his uncle - Luis Cintron of Peabody - robbed at least three markets in East Boston and several more in Chelsea, Everett and Malden at gunpoint and often clad in Scream masks, in the winter of 2017/2018.
The alleged spree started just five days after Ramirez was released from a drug-treatment program that was part of his parole related to his release for parole violations that were in turn related to an earlier federal conviction for crack dealing.
Although most of the clerks handed over money, one got punched in the head when he tried to wrestle a gun away while another had a gun fired at his feet when he chased after them, according to court records - the gun-firing charge alone would mean a mandatory minimum of ten years in federal prison should Ramirez be convicted.
Ramirez asked last month that he be released from a federal detention center in Rhode Island to await trial because of the Covid-19 risks he might face due to his existing health issues - asthma that requires the use of two inhalers and three separate other medications, hypertension, for which he is taking two drugs, and obesity. He has required one hospital trip while in detention for hypertension treatment, according to court records.
In her ruling, US District Court Magistrate Judge Jennifer Boals acknowledged that, unlike some other people awaiting trial behind bars who have made Covid-19 release requests, Ramirez had submitted proof of "much more than generalized COVID-19 fears and speculation" as a reason to be allowed to await trial at home, and that she was very mindful of his "serious health issues."
But, she continued, the US Attorney's office in Boston had presented an even better case as to why Ramirez should not be allowed out.
Because of the serious nature of Ramirez’s offenses, his lengthy criminal record, his past probation violations, and his demonstrated unwillingness to comply with court-ordered terms of release, this Court finds that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the safety of the community. ...
The concerns cited by Ramirez, while serious, do not outweigh the danger he represents to the community. Accordingly, this Court denies Ramirez’s motion for temporary release.
Among the government's objections: Ramirez might prove a threat to a government witness who is prepared to testify Ramirez told him details of some of the robberies and even asked him to go on additional robbery runs. It also pointed to his parole violations and the fact that he has a criminal record dating to the early 1990s, in both Massachusetts and Florida.
It also is not at all clear that being released to live in Chelsea is going to be an improvement for the defendant, given that Chelsea essentially is currently the hotspot for the coronavirus in Massachusetts. And if Wyatt truly is as bad as the defendant suggests (a premise the government does not accept), the defendant could be endangering his mother’s health were it to prove that he is an asymptomatic carrier of the virus.
Cintron has not asked for a Covid-19 pre-trial release.