Drug dealer's early release denied

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BURLINGTON — A local man had his bid to be released from federal prison due to health concerns rejected by a federal judge on Tuesday.

At the time of his arrest by local police on Dec. 12, 2018, wrote Judge William Sessons, Christopher Paige Jr. had multiple prior felony convictions.

"He was also subject to pre-trial conditions relating to a pending state court prosecution," wrote the judge. "Despite those pre-trial conditions, Paige was found in possession of a loaded sem-automatic assault rifle and was storing more than 2,500 bags of fentanyl."

According to court documents, Paige pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to deliver more than 40 grams of fentanyl and one count of possession of a weapon by a felon. Paige, who has been in federal custody since Dec. 18, 2018, received a 102-month sentence. His official release date is March 2025, after which he will be subject to four years of supervision.

Paige was seeking release citing health concerns arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Sessions noted that while in custody, Paige was disciplined for incidents including "hiding either syringes or buprenorphine within his body." Paige was moved to a new facility, the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., and since then has not received any further disciplinary reports, stated Paige's attorney.

On April 10, Paige filed a request for compassionate release, claiming his obesity, Type II diabetes, and high-blood pressure, among other medical issues, render him particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus.

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"He also claims that daily injections by prison staff heighten his risk level," wrote Sessions.

MDC Brooklyn houses approximately 1,625 inmates, noted the judge. While 17 staff at MDC have tested positive for the virus, wrote Sessions, none of the inmates have tested positive.

"The Court acknowledges Paige's health issues, and also considers the measures reportedly being taken at MDC Brooklyn to minimize the risk of inmate infection, as well as the low number of reported inmate infections," wrote Sessions. "Paige's reply memorandum disputes the effectiveness of those measures, the adequacy of care at the facility, and whether COVID-19 testing is actually occurring."

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Sessions noted that the memorandum raises concerns about conditions in the facility.

However, he wrote, Paige has served only about one-third of his sentence and though he has not been in trouble since being moved to Brooklyn, "His time in custody ... demonstrates continued disregard for the law."

Paige has also offered no plan "that would reasonably insure his successful adjustment upon release, and instead proposes a return to the geographic area in which his underlying crime took place," wrote Sessions. "Accordingly, the Court cannot find that Paige 'is not a danger to the safety of any other person or to the community' ..."

Bob Audette can be contacted at raudette@reformer.com.


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