Appeals court upholds conviction of Woonsocket drug trafficking conspiracy leader

The First Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday upheld the conviction of 32-year-old Robert Robinson of Woonsocket, for running a crack cocaine trafficking conspiracy out of a Woonsocket bar according to United States Attorney Peter Neronha.

Robinson was convicted by a federal court jury in June 2012 of conspiracy to distribute 280 grams or more of crack cocaine and ten counts of distribution of crack cocaine. He was sentenced in June 2012 by U.S. District Court Judge Mary Lisi to 22 years in federal prison.

In a 35-page decision, the Court of Appeals dismissed Robinson's claims of the pre-trial deprivation of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel of his choice, coupled with a claim that the district court trial judge erred in refusing Robinson's numerous requests for continuances. Robinson, who had previously dismissed attorneys appointed by the court, represented himself at trial.

According to the government's evidence presented at trial, Robinson led a crack cocaine trafficking conspiracy out of Talus Bar in Woonsocket. During the course of a three-month investigation by ATF and Woonsocket Police, a confidential informant repeatedly went to the bar and placed orders for crack cocaine. The evidence showed that the drugs would be delivered by Robinson or one of his co-defendants. Many of the transactions were electronically recorded.

Four co-defendants charged in this matter pleaded guilty in federal court to drug distribution charges and were sentenced to sentences ranging from 1 year and one day to 60 months in federal prison.

The drug trafficking conspiracy was uncovered during a joint investigation by the United States Attorney's Office, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Woonsocket Police during an unrelated firearms and drug investigation in Woonsocket. That investigation led to the arrest of sixteen individuals and the seizure of more than three-dozen firearms.

In addition to being sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Mary Lisi to 240 months in prison on conspiracy and drug charges, Robinson, who was on federal supervised release at the time of his arrest in June 2011, was also sentenced to a consecutive sentence of 24 months in federal prison for violating terms of his supervised release. Robinson was on federal supervised release for a previous drug trafficking conviction.