Norwich defendant protests at drug sentencing

A Norwich man who pleaded guilty in the midst of his drug trial in April protested as he was sentenced Tuesday in New London Superior Court to four years in prison.

“They have no proof I was selling drugs,” said Kevin Chery, 35, who also has been identified in court documents as Kevin Cherry. “They have no pictures or anything.”

Judge Hillary B. Strackbein imposed the sentence, telling Chery he had pleaded guilty. “We’re not going to re-try the case,” the judge said, adding that this is what happens to people who want to be involved in drug commerce.

The target of a March 2013 narcotics investigation by Norwich police, Chery turned down the state’s offer to plead guilty in exchange for a two-year prison sentence and opted for a jury trial. At the trial, prosecutor Paul J. Narducci called several police officers to testify about the investigation that led to the seizure of 35 grams of crack cocaine, $2,700 in cash and oxycodone pills from Chery’s condominium at 188 Summit St.

Narducci also called to the witness stand Jean Joseph of Dayville, who testified he purchased two “eight balls” of crack, or about 7 grams of the drug, from Chery. Police had been watching the Summit Street condominium and pulled over Joseph about two blocks away. Joseph said he paid $300 for the crack, which he handed to his wife when he got into the car. Joseph’s case is pending in the same court.

Chery, advised by attorney Gregg W. Wagman that he faced nearly 30 years in prison if he was convicted and received the maximum sentence, decided to plead guilty to possession and sale of narcotics before the case went to the jury. He accepted a revised plea offer from Narducci involving a sentence of 12 years in prison, suspended after four years served followed by three years of probation. As a result of his conviction, the father of four, who has been in the United States since he was 16, could face deportation to his native Haiti due to his immigration status, according to his attorney.



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