Judge returns portion of money seized in drug raid

Superior Court Judge Susan B. Handy ordered Wednesday that the state return a portion of the $10,000 that New London police seized from a Brainard Street resident in a November 2012 drug raid that yielded no illegal narcotics.

Catrice Williams, who is in her late 20s, had disputed prosecutor Paul J. Narducci’s assertion that the cash is the proceeds of drug transactions and is therefore subject to forfeiture.

During the same asset forfeiture hearing, Williams’ ex-boyfriend, Tyrone Santiago, unsuccessfully sought the return of more than $2,000 seized from him as part of the same case. Both have previous narcotics convictions.

According to testimony and court documents, police executed a search-and-seizure warrant at 70 Brainard St., Apt. 1, after an anonymous tip line caller and a confidential informant told them there were drug sales at the apartment. The police said they conducted two controlled purchases of illegal drugs at the apartment in the weeks before the raid, during which they observed somebody resembling Williams meet the confidential informant at the door.

At the hearing, Williams, a mother of two who said she works as a nursing assistant and hairdresser, produced tax records, a bill of sale for a car, a record of her casino winnings and other documents. She told the judge she had stored the cash in a boot and other places in her apartment because she was getting ready to move from the area.

Under cross-examination by Narducci, Williams testified that she was paying $950 a month in rent and received $70 a week in child support and approximately $400 a month in food stamps.

The judge pored over the records before ordering that the state return $2,000 of the $10,500 that was seized. Handy said Williams’ claim that she had cash from an $1,800 insurance settlement she had received 13 months before the raid was not credible. The judge made a similar finding with respect to a $5,000 tax refund that Williams had received in early 2012. Handy said Williams’ alleged casino winnings were not reflected in her tax return and that she did not find it credible that Williams still had a portion of the winnings, given her rent and other expenses.

The judge said she did find it credible that Williams still had $2,000 from a car she had sold earlier in 2012. Williams, unhappy with the ruling, immediately filed an appeal.

Handy rejected the argument of the ex-boyfriend, Santiago, who produced no documents with respect to $2,185 that police found in his wallet that day. Santiago said he had just been released from prison and the Department of Correction had returned $800 that remained in his commissary account. He said his mother had given him about $1,500 so that he could buy Christmas presents.

The judge said Santiago, who had no work history, had not produced any credible evidence and that the cash would be forfeited to the state.

k.florin@theday.com

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