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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ex-jail guard now faces federal case

Ex-jail guard now faces federal case
The Albany Times Union by BOB GARDINIER - March 4, 2009

TROY, NY — The district attorney's office has dropped drug and weapons charges against a former correction officer and transferred the case to federal court. Harold Gaines, 40, of Latham was arrested at 11 p.m. June 2, 2007, in Hoosick Falls when he was allegedly found in possession of marijuana bagged for sale, a rifle and a BB gun after a traffic stop. Gaines faced charges of second- and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and misdemeanor marijuana possession. District Attorney Richard McNally said his office dropped those charges against Gaines and handed the case over to the U.S. District Court in Albany because federal laws better define weapons charges that can be brought if a person is simultaneously charged with drug trafficking. Gaines was charged Feb. 26 in U.S. District Court with knowingly carrying a firearm during and in relation to alleged drug trafficking and possession with intent to distribute marijuana, according to the federal case file. He is free on bail pending arraignment on the federal charges. Gaines was fired from his job at Greene Correctional Facility in Coxsackie. He had been a correction officer for almost 20 years.

According to the federal affidavit, Gaines was allegedly in possession of 69 plastic baggies of pot and had a Kel-Tec Model Sub-2000 semiautomatic 9mm collapsible rifle on the front seat when he was stopped. Under state law, the gun is considered a long gun, not an assault rifle, so it is legal to own. He also had a BB pistol that looked like a 9mm handgun tucked into the front of his pants. The case had been on hold after county Judge Robert Jacon dropped the charges against Gaines during pre-trial hearings arguing that Hoosick village police did not have probable cause to search a duffle bag on Gaines' front passenger seat that contained the marijuana and collapsible rifle. The district attorney's office appealed, and in December the Supreme Court Appellate Division reversed Jacon and reinstated charges.

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