DETROIT — A federal court on Monday reinstated the drug conviction of a Detroit-area man whose case made headlines because of extraordinary misconduct involving a judge, prosecutor and police officers.
Alexander Aceval, who was arrested after a 103-pound cocaine bust, pleaded guilty in 2006 and was sentenced to at least 10 years in prison. But he's been arguing in higher courts that misconduct during an earlier trial poisoned the entire legal process and should have insulated him from any further prosecution.
U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow agreed, but the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision and reinstated Aceval's guilty plea. It means he will return to prison until he's eligible for parole in a few years.
The court said Aceval's case doesn't trigger constitutional protections against "double jeopardy," or being charged twice for the same crime.
Aceval's trial in 2005 ended without a unanimous verdict. It was later revealed that Wayne County Judge Mary Waterstone had allowed perjury at the trial to conceal the role of an informant in the cocaine bust. She regretted having private meetings with prosecutor Karen Plants to discuss the informant's testimony but said she was just trying to protect him.
Aceval pleaded guilty during a second trial in front of a different judge.
His attorney, David Moffitt, was disappointed with the decision by a three-judge panel at the appeals court. He said he might ask the full court to take a look or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Misconduct of this level is intolerable," Moffitt said.
Plants, who lost her law license, and two Inkster officers were sent to jail for misconduct at trial. Charges against Waterstone eventually were dismissed, although she was reprimanded by the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission. She died in April.
Follow Ed White at http://twitter.com/edwhiteap