A Harvard dining hall manager made his first appearance in Middlesex County Superior Court yesterday, after a grand jury indicted him Jan. 24 on two drug counts.
The move to Superior Court from Somerville District Court, where the charges against Winthrop and Lowell Dining Hall Manager Angelo Dalla Santa were initially filed, dramatically increases the possible jail time he faces.
Dalla Santa is accused of trafficking 300 pounds of marijuana worth $500,000.
In District Court, judges can impose no more than two and a half years per count. In Superior Court, the two counts—trafficking in marijuana and conspiracy to violate drug laws—each carry a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of 15 years.
“Not just any case gets to the Superior Court,” said Emily J. LaGrassa, a spokesperson for the Middlesex County district attorney’s office. “It’s usually a crime of a serious nature.”
At yesterday’s arraignment, the Superior Court judge scheduled a pre-trial conference for March 7.
Officials at the Somerville District Court yesterday seemed unaware of the arraignment in Superior Court. The Somerville District Court clerk’s office has not received notice of the indictment, according to a staffer.
“The district attorney’s office hasn’t filed a motion for nolle prosequi yet,” she said, referring to the motion that would end all legal action at the district court level.
The district court yesterday issued the second continuance in the case, setting a new hearing for March 15.
Dalla Santa, a Harvard University Dining Services employee of nine years, was arrested Nov. 20 with Scott A. Galant and Joseph Smith, his co-defendants in the case.
The arrests were part of a larger ongoing investigation conducted by federal, state and local authorities.
Authorities allegedly observed Gallant and Smith entering the back of a Ryder truck at the Johnny Food Master parking lot on Alewife Brook Parkway in Somerville.
After approaching the Ryder truck, officers discovered about 300 pounds of marijuana hidden inside boxes made of concrete, according to an affidavit filed by State Trooper Jodie Dotolo.
Upon the questioning of police, Gallant—who has previously been charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, threat to commit a crime, breaking and entering, larceny, trespassing and possession of a controlled substance—denied knowing about the marijuana.
While in custody, Smith received a call on his cell phone from Dalla Santa, who told Smith to leave the Ryder Truck at the Johnny Food Master with the keys under the seat, according to Dotolo.
When Dalla Santa arrived at the store, he was detained by police. He allegedly told police that he worked for his brother-in-law from Arizona, who was previously arrested in Orlando, Fla. after receiving a similar shipment of marijuana.
Dalla Santa admitted he received $1,000 and a quarter-pound of marijuana for assisting his brother-in-law. Dalla Santa added that he was personally involved in “two to three prior shipments,” according to the affidavit.
Alan D. Tuttman, Dalla Santa’s attorney, did not return calls yesterday.
—Staff writer Amit R. Paley can be reached at email@example.com.