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Hillsborough County Superior judge refuses to overturn or lessen severity of former teacher's conviction

Staff Report
August 01. 2014 7:34PM

MANCHESTER — Hillsborough County Superior Court North Judge Gillian Abramson has rejected motions filed by former Manchester High School Central art teacher Lisa Tagalakis to set aside her conviction for permitting drug sales in her residence, or to reduce the felony conviction to a misdemeanor.

A jury on May 8 convicted Tagalakis, who no longer uses her ex-husband’s last name of Fedor, of a felony charge of common nuisance. The charge says she knowingly allowed her home at 151 Sagamore St. to be used for the illegal keeping or selling of controlled drugs. The jury found Tagalakis innocent of a felony of conspiracy to sell drugs.

She was accused of taking $100 a week in rent from ex-convict Robert Doane, who was selling drugs, primarily heroin, out of her home on Sagamore Street in January and February 2013.

Doane, who was convicted of drug sales in March and senenced to 10 to 40 years in prison, was introduced to Tagalakis, 43, by her boyfriend, Kristopher White, 23, who asked if his friend could rent a room.

Tagalakis’ motion contended that the facts supported a misdemeanor common nuisance charge, not a felony level charge. But in her July 30 court order, Abramson said while there is some overlap, the felony definition includes dwellings that are used for the illegal selling of controlled drugs, while the misdemeanor does not.

Abramson said the jurors “explicitly found her guilty of an element (selling) that is contained only in the felony statute.” Therefore, Abramson wrote: “. . .the Court finds that defendant was properly convicted of a class B felony.”

Abramson also rejected motions seeking “to set aside the verdict or, in the alternative, for judgment notwithstanding the verdict.” Abramson said the evidence was sufficient for “a reasonable jury to find guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

As for sitting as a “thirteenth juror,” and disagreeing with the jury’s resolution of conflicting testimony, Abramson said: “. . .the Court cannot conclude that the verdict constitutes a miscarriage of justice, nor that the evidence weighs heavily against the verdict.”

No date has been set yet for Tagalakis’ sentencing.

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