Judge Sets Next Date in Marijuana Trial

Editor's Note: Since the publication of this story, the case in question has been dismissed and the records have been sealed.

The trial of four undergraduates charged with drug violations will be delayed at least until May 5, a judge ordered at a pretrial conference yesterday morning.

The three undergraduates facing a minimum of two years in prison if convicted—Jason R. Gardner ’07, Mathias G. Gordon ’07, and Nathan O. Simmons ’07—all appeared at the hearing in Cambridge District Court, accompanied by several family members as well as their attorneys.

The juniors, Eliot House residents who live together in DeWolfe Street housing, have been charged with possession of marijuana, a class D substance, as well as intent to distribute and the added charge of committing a drug violation in a school zone.

Zoe A. Strominger ’07, who does not live in the suite and has only been charged with possession of marijuana, was also present in court yesterday.

Judge George R. Sprague ’60, who presided over the hearing, questioned the school zone portion of the charge, noting that Harvard does not qualify as a school under a Massachusetts law that greatly increases the penalties for possession of a controlled substances in such areas.

But the University-affiliated Radcliffe Child Care Center is located a floor below the three defendants’ suite in DeWolfe.

Police carefully monitored the suite for three weeks before an officer who smelled marijuana from outside the building entered the room on Jan. 6 and allegedly found the illegal drug in it, The Crimson reported last month.

A second pretrial conference will be held on May 5, but Middlesex District Attorney spokeswoman Melissa Sherman emphasized that the case could take multiple directions following the hearing later this year.

“As of now, as with any case, it’s proceeding towards trial, but anything could happen,” she said.

Christopher Dearborn, the attorney representing Simmons, said that the May hearing would provide a chance for both sides “to see if we can get this resolved.”

Gardner’s lawyer Austin Tzeng declined to comment, and Gordon’s lawyer David Duncan did not respond to a request for comment.

Gardner and Strominger also declined to comment, and Gordon did not respond to requests for comment. Simmons could not be reached for comment yesterday.

—Staff writer Marianne F. Kaletzky can be reached at kaletzky@fas.harvard.edu.

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