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BOSTON —� U.S. District Attorney Michael J. Sullivan criticized a Massachusetts state court judge for vacating a state assault and battery conviction to reduce the federal sentence of a convicted drug dealer. Sullivan, who obtained a transcript of the district court hearing to add it to Matthew West’s federal case file, said Massachusetts District Court Justice Diane Moriarty talked about giving the defendant Matthew West a “Christmas present” by vacating the six-year-old conviction. “This conduct by the state judge calls into question the integrity of judicial proceedings and provides the appearance that a state court judge has, by giving a defendant a “Christmas present”, participated in an effort to keep a federal court judge from considering, in exercising his responsibility to justly sentence a defendant in federal court, a proper and valid prior state court conviction,” Sullivan said in a statement. In March, a federal jury found Matthew West guilty of two counts of possession of cocaine with attempt to distribute. USA v. West, No. 06-10281 (D. Mass.) West’s attorney Timothy R. Flaherty of the Boston-based Flaherty Law Offices obtained a Massachusetts state court order vacating West’s six-year-old assault and battery conviction, which removed West from the career criminal sentencing category. The change means sentencing guidelines for West are now 15 to 21 months, instead of 262 to 327 months, Flaherty sad. He also said the government sought a heavy sentence for West, because he refused to act as a government witness in an investigation of the Boston Police Department. “What’s outrageous about this case is the government’s attempt to increase a defendant’s sentence by 25 years just because he refuses to cooperate with them,” Flaherty said. Flaherty also said the Christmas present comment was a joke the judge said directly to him after the order was made and was taken out of context. “[It's] an attempt to assign some sinister motivation to her order which was made lawfully after thoughtful consideration and within her proper discretion,” Flaherty said. On October 1, Sullivan’s office petitioned the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to overturn the state court order that vacated West’s conviction. Judge Moriarty did not return calls for comment. Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court spokesman Joan Kenney said the court system wouldn’t comment on a pending case.

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