Argued October 1, 2014
Complaint received and sworn to in the Malden Division of the District Court Department on March 10, 2010.
The case was tried before Dominic J. Paratore, J.
Merritt Schnipper for the defendant.
Erin J. Anderson, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.
Present: Rapoza, C.J., Katzmann, & Wolohojian, JJ.
[26 N.E.3d 1136] Wolohojian, J.
Police officers working undercover arranged to purchase " crack" cocaine from a man known as " Paulie," whom they suspected of operating in tandem with the defendant. A photocopy of the currency to be used for the purchase was made beforehand. The primary issue on appeal is whether the best evidence rule required that the currency, rather than the photocopy, be admitted at trial. Concluding that it does not, we affirm
the defendant's convictions.
Officers of the Everett police department were conducting an undercover operation to purchase crack cocaine. The operation was focused on a man known as " Paulie," whom they suspected of working with the defendant. On March 9, 2010, Sergeant Paul Strong photocopied six twenty-dollar bills and then gave five of them to Detective Robert Hall, who was to arrange the undercover purchase from Paulie. Strong, who was part of the team assigned to surveil the defendant, kept a photocopy of the bills in his pocket.
Hall and Paulie arranged to meet near the corner of Broadway and Gladstone Street in Everett. Hall arrived by car at the arranged time and place; Paulie arrived on foot and got into Hall's car. A purchase was arranged, and Hall gave Paulie five of the bills that had been photocopied. Paulie proceeded to make two telephone calls. After the second call, Paulie left the car and walked up Gladstone Street. Five minutes later, Paulie returned and removed five plastic baggies of crack cocaine from his mouth; he gave four of them to Hall. Paulie was then arrested.
Meanwhile, Strong had been watching the defendant's residence. He observed the defendant drive away from his home, pick up a passenger, meet briefly with a woman who approached his (the defendant's) car, and then drive to the corner of Gladstone and School Street, where he stopped. This was near where Hall and Paulie had arranged to meet. Although neither officer saw Paulie and the defendant meet, Strong saw Paulie return to Hall's car.
Strong then followed the defendant, who was stopped, arrested, and searched. The serial numbers of five twenty-dollar bills found in his right front pants pocket matched those of the bills Strong had photocopied at the beginning of the operation. Strong compared the bills with the photocopy and placed a check mark next to each bill with a matching serial number. Later, during booking at the station, the defendant removed from inside his pants ...