Saturday, February 6, 2016

Slow Saturday Special: Lexus Payments Led to Drug Dealing

"Man who worked with Boston’s at-risk youth arrested on drug charges" by Jan Ransom Globe Staff  February 06, 2016

He said he had to sell crack cocaine to make payments on his car — a gray Lexus. His city job working with at-risk youth on the streets didn’t pay enough.

Related64 City of Boston workers earn more than $250,000

That’s what Lashawn Harris told Boston police after he was arrested Tuesday evening on charges of selling crack cocaine and pills while wearing a “City of Boston Street Worker” coat with an employee identification card hanging from a lanyard around his neck.

Harris, 37, was arraigned Wednesday in Roxbury District Court on two counts of possession with intent to distribute class B drugs and got a civil citation for possession of marijuana.

Harris’s arrest comes roughly a year after city officials merged Boston’s street worker program with the Boston Foundation’s StreetSafe program to combat violence by working with gang members and at-risk youth.

Has it been that long?

Controversy followed the StreetSafe program, which often hired workers with criminal records. Several were fired for reasons that included passing counterfeit bills, allegedly assaulting an officer and hanging out in areas known for drug dealing.

Harris, who was hired in January 2015 with a salary of $39,140, was terminated immediately after his arrest, said Laura Oggeri, spokeswoman for Mayor Martin J. Walsh.

Community leaders were disappointed to learn of Harris’s arrest, which was not announced by the mayor’s office, Boston police, or the district attorney’s office.

“We’re working with a population that’s already the most vulnerable,” said Rufus Faulk, program director at the Boston TenPoint Coalition. “When individuals are doing the very same activities [some of] the youth are participating in — we can’t make headway; it destroys trust and casts further doubt about the credibility of those doing this line of work. We have to be more conscious about the people we are putting in their lives.”

Yeah, the double-dealing and double-crossing, both-sides-of-the-fence-playing in the endle$$ drug war will do9 that.

Less than a mile from the area where Harris was assigned to work as a “violence interrupter,” police were monitoring Magnolia Street for drug activity at around 7:40 p.m. when a woman officers had spotted earlier exited a gray Lexus, according to court records.

The officers suspected a drug transaction had occurred and alerted police to track the Lexus, which was located moments later on Alexander Street, court records show.

Officers approached the vehicle Harris told them he “was just giving someone a cigarette on Magnolia Street,” according to court records.

Asked if he had anything on his person or in his vehicle that the officers should be aware of, he said just a “little weed.”

But court documents show police found two plastic bags of crack cocaine on the headliner near the windshield, a bottle with seven oxycodone pills in his pants pocket, and a bag of marijuana in his left boot.

“It was coke, I have to sell it because I have to make my car payments, I don’t make enough money with my job,” Harris told police when asked if he knew what officers found in his car.

Harris posted a $200 bail at the police station and is due back in court on April 4.

I'm about to post this and bail.

Harris pleaded guilty in 2004 to two counts of possession with intent to distribute a class D substance in 2004 and received two years concurrent probation, court records show.

Gustavo Mayen, Harris’s attorney on the latest case, declined to comment on Friday.

City Councilor Andrea Campbell, chairwoman of the new Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee, said that to do the kind of work Harris, does, integrity is necessary.

“There’s no place for incidents like that,” she said.

The city has 18 violence interrupters, two senior violence interrupters, 28 street workers, and four senior-level street workers. The staff is supervised by a unit manager and a program manager, in addition to the senior-level staff members. The mayor’s office said it had no information as to whether any other street workers or violence interrupters have been arrested since the programs merged.

But Daniel Mulhern, director of the mayor’s office of public safety initiatives said Harris’s actions are not representative of the program.

“The program and those connected to this work go above and beyond every day in difficult circumstances in our neighborhoods,” he said. “The folks in our street worker program are enormously committed to making sure our communities are safe.”

Now salute smartly and shaddup!


He reminds me of another guy.