Bail set for unhappy defendant in Schenectady drug case
SCHENECTADY A defendant in an unusual Schenectady drug case became agitated Wednesday morning in court when a bail hearing didn’t go his way, attempting to argue his case and at one point swearing in front of the judge.
The bail application was made by Gabriel Rivera-Baez, 29, of Schenectady, who with two others is accused of scheming to have more than two pounds of cocaine shipped to Schenectady in September.
Prosecutors allege Rivera-Baez received the shipment, but took off with it. Then, when pressure from the other two mounted, he went to police with the cocaine and said it came into his possession unknowingly.
Authorities, however, didn’t believe his story and he was charged and indicted with the other individuals.
In court Wednesday morning, Rivera-Baez, through his attorney, Demostene Romanucci, asked for bail to be set. Romanucci argued Rivera-Baez is married with children, has a job with a roofing company and has lived in Schenectady his whole life.
Prosecutor Ed Moynihan argued Rivera-Baez’ most recent address was in Greene County and he has had a Massachusetts address in the past.
Both Moynihan and Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago also expressed concern over a previous court case where Rivera-Baez was released and didn’t show up for court. He wasn’t found again for 15 months.
Rivera-Baez argued that was a misunderstanding.
Ultimately, Drago ordered Rivera-Baez held on $45,000 bail, an amount similar to his co-defendants.
Prior to Drago setting bail, Rivera-Baez tried to argue his case further.
“I’m not supposed to be here,” he said. “I’m the one that turned in the drugs to the police. I’m the one who was trying to contact the U.S. marshals. I’m the one that did that. If I had anything to do with this, why would I bring the drugs to Schenectady?”
Rivera-Baez then indicated he was trying to get a new attorney through his wife.
When Drago set bail at $45,000, Rivera-Baez responded by threatening a lawsuit, swearing in the process. Drago told him to calm down.
“I’m sorry for it, but the thing is, I’m not even supposed to be here,” Rivera-Baez said.
Romanucci could then be heard telling Rivera-Baez it was not the right time for those arguments.
Indicted were Rivera-Baez and Carmen Rivera-Diaz, 22, both believed to be from the Schenectady area, and Bievienido Santos, 35, of Close Street. Each faces one count of first-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and second-degree conspiracy, both felonies. Santos was indicted in November, while the other two were indicted in December.
The events unfolded between Sept. 12 and 14, prosecutors allege. Rivera-Diaz and Santos are accused of arranging for a shipment of cocaine to be mailed to Schenectady from either Florida or Puerto Rico.
Rivera-Diaz and Santos are married, and Rivera-Diaz and Rivera-Baez are siblings, officials have said.