Sidney Bernard Moore, a 58-year-old Victoria man of Victoria Place Apartments on Tidewater Avenue, was convicted recently in Lunenburg Circuit Court on one felony count of Possession of Marijuana With Intent to Distribute, approximately 10 pounds, that was delivered through the mail.
According to Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Clement, a postal inspector contacted local authorities after a drug dog hit on a box addressed to Moore from Las Vegas at the Richmond Processing and Distribution Center in Sandston, Virginia. A search warrant was obtained and the box was searched. There were ten vacuumed-sealed plastic bags of marijuana packed inside of a total of four boxes, each inside the other box of smaller sizes with a total weight of just over 10 pounds.
The box was resealed and the postal inspector and a law enforcement officer from Prince Edward County’s task force delivered the package to the apartment building. Moore happened to be outside and asked them who they were looking for. When they told him it was a package for Sydney Moore, he said he was Sydney Moore and took them up to his apartment to get his identification. One of his identification cards showed an address from Las Vegas, although he is a resident of Victoria.
He was arrested on the spot, rather than let the box get out of the officers’ sight. He denied having any knowledge of the marijuana inside the box, stating that he was expecting a suit of clothes by package from his brother in Las Vegas. He had asked a local mail carrier two days earlier about the status of a package he was expecting.
Police searched Moore’s apartment, but did not find any scales, baggies, or other items associated with distribution. Police had hoped he would cooperate with finding the person who would have ultimately received the marijuana, but he continued to deny any knowledge of the contents of the box.
Clement said he was told by a drug enforcement officer that it is not uncommon for distributors to use older persons to receive a delivery such as this through the mail or by Federal Express or UPS, and then have them just give it to the intended recipient.
The officer also told Clement that they could not take the risk of leaving the box with Moore and having someone else avoid detection and pick it up and then have 10 pounds of marijuana gone and on the street. He said this is especially true in an apartment building. They would not have been able to stand around and watch the hallway without being noticed, and it would have been possible for someone just from another room on the same floor to have gone to Moore’s room and taken the box within just a minute and disappeared. Clement said he was told this actually happened in another part of the state involving 15 pounds of marijuana.
Officers also found a straw and metal rod with cocaine residue while searching the apartment, which Moore admitted belonged to him. These items are associated with the use of cocaine. As a result, Moore was also charged with Possession of Cocaine, a Class 5 Felony, to which he also pled guilty.
Clement said that the charge of Possession of Marijuana With Intent to Distribute was a difficult legal challenge because the burden was on the Commonwealth to prove “knowledge” of the contents. Clement said his legal research led to one case from the Virginia Court of Appeals in 2011 that was very similar, although involving a delivery of cocaine, and upheld the conviction, but had additional facts such as finding in his residence one digital scale and one smaller manual scale, and plastic baggies of the kind one would use to package cocaine for individual sale. No such items were found in Moore’s apartment. Moore also did not display any wealth or luxuries as a drug dealer, being on Disability and living in a financially-assisted apartment for low-income persons. Clement said that the law enforcement officers were certain Moore was a middleman for the package, and probably would never have even opened it up before delivery to the intended drug dealer.
Clement said that on the day of trial, he and the law enforcement officers, as well as the defense attorney and defendant, realized that each side was at risk of losing completely at trial or upon appeal, so a compromise was appropriate.
Also taken into consideration was the fact that Moore suffered numerous medical conditions that would have made his incarceration extremely expensive for Piedmont Regional Jail which is already suffering astronomical budget woes which are being passed to the counties. Although Moore is on Disability for his medical conditions and receives Medicaid coverage, such coverage would be terminated if he were to be incarcerated, and the jail would have to pay for all medical care, medication, and provide around the clock security if he were hospitalized.
As a result, Moore was sentenced to 90 days on Home Electronic Monitoring which he will have to pay for beginning May 9, 2014. If he does not pay for it, he will be incarcerated at the jail. Clement said he told the defense attorney to let the drug dealers pay for it. According to Clement, Moore said he was being evicted from Victoria Place Apartments because persons with drug convictions are not allowed to live there because it is a financially-assisted apartment building.
Moore received an additional 10 years suspended upon conditions of good behavior, supervised probation upon his release for one year, warrantless searches and seizures, and counseling.
category: WFLO News