SALEM — A Massachusetts lawyer was removed from representing an alleged drug dealer after failing to disclose he was facing disciplinary proceedings in his home state.
Judge John Korbey reversed a decision to allow defense lawyer Ernest Solomon from representing a Lawrence, Mass., man arrested as part of a drug investigation that swept up 463 Oxycodone pills, 32 grams of heroin and $40,000 in cash between Manchester and Salem.
Julio Encarnacion Geraldo, 36, waived his probable cause hearing in 10th Circuit Court in Salem on Thursday, but Solomon failed to appear — a day after his disciplinary proceedings were revealed by a prosecutor.
Geraldo is charged with possession with intent to distribute a controlled drug and conspiracy to sell a controlled drug.
At a hearing on Thursday, Geraldo posted $15,000 cash bail, after Korbey listened to arguments by Geraldo’s other lawyer, Kenneth Bernard, to keep Solomon on the case.
Geraldo was apprehended inside the Sears store at the Mall at Rockingham Park July 16 around 1 p.m. by Salem, Manchester and state police. Two other drug suspects linked to Geraldo’s case were arrested in Manchester hours earlier.
Prosecutors began to focus on Geraldo’s Massachusetts attorney soon after his first court appearance on July 18.
Salem prosecutor Jason Grosky notified Korbey on Wednesday that Solomon failed to disclose his case pending before the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers.
Solomon is facing accusations of misappropriating another client’s bail money for his own use, charging an excessive fee and failure to keep his client informed, according to the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers.
Solomon did not mention his disciplinary woes in a petition to Korbey asking permission to practice in New Hampshire as an out-of-state lawyer.
He refused to comment on his own discipline issues and the prosecution’s efforts to have him removed from Geraldo’s case when reached by a reporter last week.
Grosky argued that allowing Solomon to continue on the case would not be in Geraldo’s best interest. He acknowledged it was uncommon for a prosecutor to alert a judge about a defense lawyer’s ability to represent someone facing criminal charges.
“It is not a prosecutor’s role to look out for a defendant’s best interests,” Grosky said. “But when a glaring problem exists, perhaps to the detriment of the accused and his right to effective assistance of counsel, there’s a duty to speak up.”
Grosky noted in a motion to Korbey that Solomon once posted $8,000 of his own money in 2009 to post bail for a drug suspect he did not represent. The suspect was later deported to the Dominican Republic before his case could move forward in court.
Geraldo’s case has been bound over to superior court, where a grand jury could return indictments.
Korbey allowed Geraldo to keep Bernard, his in-state defense attorney.