Judge gives drug convict probation, cites other consequences

AP News
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Posted: May 25, 2016 5:42 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — A Connecticut college student found with 1.3 pounds of cocaine in her luggage on a return trip from Jamaica has been sentenced to probation by a judge who ruled her smuggling conviction alone would include collateral punishments.

"There is a broad range of collateral consequences that serve no useful function other than to further punish criminal defendants after they have completed their court imposed sentences," Senior U.S. District Court District Judge Frederick Block said in a ruling Tuesday.

The judge said sufficient attention has not been paid to those consequences, including restrictions on access to public housing, student loans and the right to vote and to serve on juries in some states. Restrictions on employment in child care services, hospice work, banks, the armed forces and labor unions are among other consequences, he noted.

Chevelle Nesbeth was a 20-year-old college student from New Haven when she was arrested last year at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The judge noted that, at the behest of a boyfriend, she was given two suitcases by friends who had bought her return airline ticket and was asked to take them to a person upon her arrival to the United States.

A probation report recommended a sentence of two years, followed by three years of supervised release. The report noted Nesbeth was a first-time offender, is enrolled in college, is employed and "has otherwise lived a law-abiding life and is at a low risk of recidivism."

Nesbeth also received six months of home confinement and 100 hours of community service. Her court-appointed attorney did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

Prosecutors declined to comment on the judge's ruling.