Cohen going back to jail

Jeff Mucciarone

David Cohen is going back to jail after several weeks of uncertainty for the former Stoughton police sergeant.

On Tuesday, Justice Mitchell Sikora Jr., of the state appeals court vacated an order for temporarily staying Cohen’s sentence, according to the Massachusetts Appellate Court’s Web site.

Cohen, who was convicted of two felonies on July 30, was expected to surrender Wednesday morning at the Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham, according to published reports.

Richard Egbert, Cohen’s attorney, is appealing the convictions and was seeking to keep Cohen, 41, out of jail during the appeal process. Cohen was released from prison Aug. 30 per an order from the appeals court, but Sikora’s newest order means Cohen will begin serving his two-and-half to three-year prison term.

Cohen was convicted of two counts of witness intimidation, one count of attempted extortion and one count of filing a false report.

On Aug. 27, Judge Barbara Dortch-Okara sentenced Cohen to separate two-and-half to three-year prison terms to be served concurrently for each witness intimidation charge. She also set a one-year prison term for filing the false report, which will also be served concurrently. According to the judge, the prison time would be served at Cedar Junction, a maximum-security prison in Walpole.

Egbert met before Sikora Sept. 6 in a preliminary hearing at the Appeals Court. Sikora took the hearing under advisement until rendering his decision on Cohen’s freedom this week.

In addition to the prison time, Dortch-Okara set a three-year probation sentence for the attempted extortion charge, which would be served when Cohen is released from prison. He was also ordered to do 150 hours of community service once he is released and will be required to enter an anger management program.

Egbert has argued Dortch-Okara unconstitutionally closed the courtroom during jury selection for Cohen's trial. He submitted a photograph into evidence of a sign on the courtroom doors instructing people not to enter.

Cohen, who worked as a police officer at night and as a lawyer during the day, was a 19-year veteran of the Stoughton police force.

The convictions stem from Cohen's interactions in April 2002 with former local businessman Timothy Hills, who Cohen met with several times in attempts to reconcile money owed to one of Cohen's clients.

In one count of intimidating a witness, Cohen attempted to get confidential account information from a teller at a local bank. In the second charge, Cohen was convicted of intimidating one of Hills's employees into making a statement in his favor.

Cohen's trial began on June 18 and continued until July 30. Fellow Officer Robert Letendre, who was charged with being an accessory after the fact and filing a false police report, stood trial alongside Cohen. Letendre was found not guilty on both charges.

Chief Manuel Cachopa has also been indicted but was granted a separate trial, which is tentatively set to begin Oct. 29. Cachopa's charges allegedly stem from his attempts to cover up Cohen's actions while dealing with Hills.