U.S. prosecutors said in a court filing Tuesday that they don’t think the scandal hanging over the San Francisco Police Department crime laboratory will affect a former gang member’s federal conviction for racketeering and three murders.
The prosecutors made the statement in papers filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco in the case of Dennis Cyrus, 25, a former member of the Page Street gang in city’s Western Addition district.
Assistant U.S. Attorney William Frentzen wrote, “The recent issues surrounding the SFPD drug laboratory raised by the defense cast no doubt on any of Cyrus’s multiple federal convictions.”
Cyrus was convicted last year of 16 counts, including drug conspiracy, racketeering and the gang-related murders of three men in 2002.
He was due to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney on April 13.
But last week, defense attorney John Philipsborn asked Chesney to delay the sentence for two months so that Cyrus’s lawyers could gather more information about the investigation of former lab technician Deborah Madden as well as about her alleged statement that there were “sloppy” practices at the facility.
Madden, 60, of San Mateo, is suspected of taking small quantities of cocaine from the laboratory last year. She faces a cocaine possession charge in San Mateo County, but has not been charged with any crime connected with the laboratory.
The laboratory’s drug testing unit has been temporarily closed during the investigation and the San Francisco district attorney’s office is in the process of dismissing or temporarily discharging hundreds of state drug cases filed in Superior Court.
Madden testified in Cyrus’s federal trial in April 2009. Philipsborn said in his filing that the laboratory probe could affect Cyrus’ convictions on drug-related counts, which include drug conspiracy, racketeering, cocaine possession and murders in aid of racketeering.
Frentzen said in his response Tuesday, however, that the gang’s cocaine dealing was corroborated by six other criminalists, testifying about drug tests performed as long ago as 1996, and by other trial witnesses.
The witnesses “reported that the Page Street Mob member dealt crack cocaine on a daily basis in their turf located near the Hayes Valley South housing development far in excess of the amount of crack cocaine seized and tested by SFPD,” Frentzen wrote.
The prosecutors also noted that one of the murder convictions was for the separate crime of killing a federal witness and therefore “does not even arguably implicate the SFPD drug laboratory.”
That conviction was for the fatal shooting on Sept. 8, 2002, of Ray Jimmerson, a member of the Big Block gang in the Hunters Point district who had agreed to become a government informant.
Frentzen said prosecutors do not object to a two-month delay in sentencing and suggested June 16 as the new date.
The prosecution and defense both said a second reason for postponing the sentencing is that the court’s probation office has not yet completed a presentencing report on Cyrus.
Philipsborn said in his papers last week that defense attorneys may consider seeking a new trial for Cyrus, depending on what they learn about the drug lab investigation.
In Cyrus’s trial last year, prosecutors sought a rare federal death penalty for the three murders, but the jury rejected a death penalty and opted for a sentence of life in prison without parole.