Two more sue over Lowell police informant corruption

Dr. Q

Earlier this month, the city of Lowell and Lowell police detective Thomas Lafferty were sued by a man who says he was framed by the police after an informant planted drugs on him. Now, two more victims have stepped forward and filed lawsuits.

The Lowell Sun reports:

Two more people who were arrested on drug and firearms charges — only to have them dismissed as part of the 17 cases dropped in the wake of the Lowell police-informant probe — filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court against the city of Lowell and a veteran Lowell police officer.

In the latest round of lawsuits against the city and Lowell Police Officer Thomas Lafferty, attorney Howard Friedman, representing Nel Sothy and Tutis Kuria, filed claim the confidential informants Lafferty used planted evidence that led to them being falsely arrested.

In Kuria’s case, he claims a firearm was planted in his car, while Sothy and a third plaintiff, Jonathan Santiago, who filed a lawsuit two weeks ago, allege that drugs were planted by the informants in the gas-cap covers of their cars. After the evidence was planted, the informants tipped off police.

Friedman, who represents all three men, wrote that Lafferty’s conduct was the result of the city’s “systematic failure to supervise confidential informants within its police department.”

The attorney adds that for more than 20 years, Lowell police ignored their own written policies on the use of informants because the Special Investigation Section believed “the ends justified the means.”

[I]n the Sothy lawsuit, Friedman alleges that the 32-year-old former Ayer man, who now lives in Virginia, was framed by the informant during a family night out on Aug. 1, 2012, at the Azores Club in Lowell. The informant allegedly planted 29 grams of a chunky white substance that included cocaine inside the gas cap of Sothy’s car. Lafferty and other members of SIS were waiting for Sothy as he left the club.

Sothy was charged with trafficking in cocaine over 28 grams, which if convicted carries a minimum mandatory sentence of five years in prison.

Sothy was indicted by a grand jury and the case was transferred to Superior Court on Oct. 11, 2012. It wasn’t until March 22 that the case was dropped by the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office due to the probe.

As a result of the criminal charges, Sothy, a pharmacy technician, who had worked eight years at CVS, was told to take an unpaid leave. While he has worked since his arrest, it is not at the same level of pay, his lawyer wrote.

In Kuria’s case, Lafferty wrote in court documents that in the week before Kuria ‘s Oct. 11, 2011, arrest he spoke to a “past reliable informant” regarding a man named Titus who was in possession of a firearm he was trying to sell.

At 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 11, 2011, Lafferty located Kuria’s blue Dodge Stratta outside the bar. Lafferty spotted Kuria leaving the bar with a plastic bag in his right hand, get into his car and drive away. The car was stopped for an expired registration.

In the lawsuit, Friedman alleges the informant planted a .32-caliber gun under the passenger seat then told Lafferty where it was hidden. Kuria was driving to his job as a licensed practical nurse when he was pulled over, ordered to the ground at gunpoint and the gun found under the passenger seat.

The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office dropped the case nearly 18 months later.

“The arrest destroyed Mr. Kuria’s life, leaving him homeless and unemployed,” according to the lawsuit.


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