By the richest of fates, Jonathan Vaughan got a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card thrown his way less than a month ago.
His luck couldn’t have been better, as he was one of hundreds of convicted drug criminals who benefitted from the drug lab scandal involving rogue chemist Annie Dookhan.
On Tuesday night, Vaughan allegedly traded in that incredibly valuable card for a cheap beer at the Bellingham Square McDonald’s, a tussle with police, and another date to dance as Dr. Feelgood.
Chelsea Police responded to the McDonald’s in busy Bellingham Tuesday night for a man in the restaurant drinking a Natural Ice beer in the dining room and refusing to leave.
Police found Vaughan sipping from the suds and began to escort him out of the establishment.
As they did, he yelled, “I just got out on Annie Dookhan and I ain’t going back to jail.”
He then began violently thrashing and trying to get away as officers restrained him. After a search, Vaughan was found to allegedly have eight baggies of crack cocaine packaged for individual sale.
Worst of all, he wasn’t telling a tall tale about his situation with the drug lab scandal.
According to District Attorney Dan Conley’s Office, on Dec. 14th, Vaughan had his 2 1/2 year sentence in the House of Corrections reversed due to the fact that Dookhan was the confirmatory chemist in the case and apparently did not test the drugs accurately. The conviction in that case came in 2011 and was for possession of a Class B drug (cocaine) with intent to sell (subsequent offense) and selling drugs in a school zone.
He is due back in court on Jan. 18th to review the decision to release, and certainly Tuesday night’s incident will play into that hearing.
On Wednesday afternoon, Vaughan was arraigned in Chelsea District Court on Tuesday’s charges.
“We in law enforcement didn’t create this problem, but we’re working together to fix it,” said District Attorney Dan Conley on Wednesday. “Defendants like this one were incarcerated for a reason: They are repeat offenders who have rejected every intervention and prevention program and continue to reoffend. If the evidence doesn’t support the convictions then we we’ll act appropriately, but if there’s a good faith basis to keep those charges in place then that’s what we’ll do. Unfortunately, the number of cases affected amounts to a new county’s worth of defendants dropped in our laps almost overnight, and it will take a tremendous amount of work to rectify all of them.”
Police Chief Brian Kyes said he was just glad to see his officers act decisively to stop the public drinking and catch someone allegedly attempting to sell crack cocaine.
“Although I am not exactly sure at this point with any degree of certainty whether or not Jonathan Vaughan was in fact released from prison as a result of the recent problems at the State Drug Lab as he spontaneously proclaimed during his arrest, I am extremely proud of the job that the Chelsea Police Department did in addressing the quality of life issue of drinking in public and the subsequent discovery of a quantity and packaging of crack cocaine that was seized from his person consistent with drug distribution,” said Kyes. “Whether someone is a so-called self pro-claimed ‘experienced’ drug dealer or one that is new to this dangerous lifestyle choice, we will continue to send the message that the City of Chelsea is not the place where this type of behavior will be tolerated under any set of circumstances.”
As for Dookhan, coincidentally she was also arraigned by the state Attorney General’s Office on Wednesday for her alleged crimes. Those arraignments happened in Middlesex Superior Court and Norfolk Superior Court. She has previously been arraigned on similar charges in Suffolk Superior Court.
While Vaughan’s case appears to have connections to Chelsea, the DA’s Office indicated that the vast majority of affected drug cases come from Boston. Only a handful of cases have come out of Chelsea, Revere, or Winthrop, they said. Nonetheless, the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BPD’s crime data tracking unit) shares its information, including the names of released “Dookhan defendants,” with Suffolk County police departments so they’re aware of who’s on the streets.