MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO DISMISS
D. Wilson, Justice
March 7, 2016, a Suffolk County Grand Jury indicted the
defendant, Sammie Coleman, for money laundering pursuant to
G.L.c. 267A, § 2, among other indictments. Now before me
is Mr. Coleman's motion to dismiss the money laundering
indictment on the ground that the evidence before the grand
jury was insufficient. For the reasons set forth below, the
defendant's motion to dismiss indictment is
following evidence relative to the money laundering charge
was presented to the grand jury, through the testimony of
Boston Police Officer Kevin Plunkett.
December 17, 2015, at approximately 7:18 P.M., Officers
Plunkett, Dominic Columbo, and Kevin Sullivan observed a
Buick, driven by Mr. Coleman, run a red light on Humboldt
Avenue in Boston. The officers checked the license plate and
discovered that it belonged to a Nissan Maxima. A traffic
Plunkett approached Mr. Coleman, and asked for his license.
Mr. Coleman instead produced an identification card. Officer
Plunkett asked whether he had a driver's license, and Mr.
Coleman responded " no." Both Mr. Coleman and a
passenger, Sadie Woods, were then ordered to step out of the
vehicle. The officers observed some pills on the floor when
Ms. Woods exited the vehicle.
officers conducted a pat frisk on Mr. Coleman's person
and recovered various loose pills and pill bottles in his
pant pockets. Officer Plunkett found two loose white circular
pills and a pill bottle containing 29 white circular pills in
Mr. Coleman's right jacket pocket, which were later
identified as Oxycodone. The prescription label on the pill
bottle was made out to Ronald Gonzales. Officer Plunkett
found another pill bottle in Mr. Coleman's left jacket
pocket. The bottle was for a drug called Metformin; however,
the bottle contained approximately 90 pink circular pills,
which were also identified as Oxycodone. The officers found
various other pill bottles on Mr. Coleman's person. The
pills contained in the bottles did not match the prescription
searching Mr. Coleman's person, the officers searched the
inside of the vehicle and found five white pills underneath
the front passenger seat. When Officer Columbo inquired about
the pills, Mr. Coleman responded that there were his. Officer
Columbo then opened the trunk of the Buick and discovered a
clear plastic bag containing multiple pill bottles, some with
prescription labels and some without labels. Many of the
pills in the bottles did not match the prescription labels on
officers also found $1, 473 in various cash denominations in
Mr. Coleman's wallet. The denominations included one $100
bill, sixty-three $20 bills, seventeen $5 bills and
twenty-eight $1 bills. According to the testimony of Officer
Plunkett, " [T]here was no organization to how the money
was separated in his wallet . . . [The various denominations
were not] all spaced out for you, hundreds, twenties, tens,
fives etc." The large quantity of $20 bills, Officer
Plunkett testified, was consistent with street level drug
on the foregoing testimony, the grand jury indicted Mr.
Coleman for various drug offenses, and also under the money
laundering statute. The grand jury heard no evidence about
how Mr. Coleman intended to use the money in his wallet.
Mr. Coleman is charged with various crimes, he is moving to
dismiss only the indictment for money laundering, based on
the theory that the Commonwealth presented insufficient
evidence to the grand jury. To obtain an indictment, the
Commonwealth must present evidence sufficient to establish
the identity of the accused and probable cause to arrest him
for a crime. Commonwealth v. McCarthy, 385 Mass.
160, 163, 430 N.E.2d 1195 (1982). Probable cause exists where
the facts and circumstances presented would warrant the
belief, in a person of reasonable caution, that an offense
had been committed. Commonwealth v. Hason, 387 Mass.
169, 174, 439 N.E.2d 251 (1982). " Probable cause
requires more than mere suspicion but something less than
evidence sufficient to warrant a conviction."
Id. " [A] motion to dismiss is the appropriate
and only way to challenge a finding of probable cause."
Commonwealth v. DiBennadetto, 436 Mass. 310, 313,
764 N.E.2d 338 (2002).