BRENTWOOD — A judge is allowing prosecutors to withdraw from a plea deal that would have sentenced a Northwood man to six months in county jail for allegedly breaking into a state police barracks and removing drugs from his impounded car.
Prosecutors withdrew from a plea deal for Ryan Mackenzie, 29, who is facing burglary and falsifying physical evidence charges, after state police told Interim County Attorney Jim Boffetti that they were never consulted about the possible jail sentence, according to recently unsealed court documents.
State police believed the sentence for the break-in was too lenient, according to prosecutors.
Mackenzie may now either try to strike a new plea deal with prosecutors, or head to trial on charges that could land him in state prison for up to 3½ to 7 years if he is convicted by a jury.
Prosecutors say Mackenzie broke into the State Police Troop A Barracks in Epping on Dec. 30, 2011, and removed from his car “a cigarette package that appeared to contain a white powdery substance.”
After being indicted last April, Mackenzie was being considered as a candidate for Rockingham County’s drug court, which is a judicially supervised treatment program for substance abuse offenders designed to reduce recidivism.
But that came to a halt on Feb. 20 when Boffetti, whose appointment ended on Friday, revoked the proposed plea bargain.
Public defender Anthony Naro argued to Judge N. William Delker that prosecutors should not have been able to suddenly withdraw from the deal after he spent months negotiating with former Deputy County Attorney Tom Reid, who resigned in January, according to court records.
“Attorney Boffetti indicated that he spoke with at least one representative from the state police and they indicated to him that they were never consulted or made aware of the terms of the plea bargain,” Naro said in court papers. “They believed that Mr. Mackenzie was a drug dealer, they believed that drug court would make Mr. Mackenzie a better drug dealer, and they felt that Mr. Mackenzie should serve more time.”
Boffetti also stated “that he personally did not believe Mr. Mackenzie was appropriate for drug court,” court records say.
Naro emphatically dismissed those assertions about his client, whom he described as someone who spent months trying to wean himself off methadone so he could participate in drug court.
Assistant County Attorney Brad Bolton, who is now handling the Mackenzie case, argued that the state was not locked into any particular deal.
Delker concluded that Mackenzie did not have any constitutional right to enforce the plea bargain, but warned “the state should not lightly cast aside its plea agreements.” The judge said that Reid worked diligently to resolve the case, and only after Reid resigned did the state “withdraw its willingness to resolve the case with drug court supervision.”
The debate over Mackenzie’s plea deal remained under court seal until this past week. Delker refused Naro’s request to keep court filings sealed.
“This decision involves matters of important public policy that should not be limited to the confines of this case,” Delker said in an eight-page order.