A Schenectady man who signed a false name to accept a large package was convicted of a top-level marijuana charge, found to have knowingly possessed the 14 pounds of pot inside the box.
Tigris Hobbs, 39, of Washington Avenue, was convicted Tuesday by a Schenectady County Court jury after a week long trial. At issue in the trial was not whether there was marijuana in a box or how much, but what Hobbs knew about it when he accepted it.
Prosecutor John Healy called it a circumstantial case, but one that had Hobbs signing for the package using a false name, and even showing interest in the package earlier by following an undercover police officer posing as a postal worker after he refused to deliver it.
The case dated back to June 2011, when a large package en route from Arizona to an address in Mont Pleasant caught a Troy postal inspector’s eye, Healy said. The package fit a set of criteria for suspicion. The inspector called in a Sheriff’s Department dog, which indicated the presence of marijuana, Healy said.
Undercover police then went to deliver it. On the first attempt no one was home. In a second attempt, Hobbs was there. But he didn’t match the name on the package. The undercover officer refused to deliver it, Healy said.
As the undercover officer drove away, Hobbs could be seen following, Healy said. Another delivery attempt was made soon after, and Hobbs was allowed to sign for it. He signed a fictitious name similar to the name on the package, which also was fictitious.
Hobbs was then arrested.
Inside the package investigators found a total of 14 pounds of marijuana packed tightly and shrink wrapped and vacuum sealed multiple times. Between layers were dryer fabric softener sheets, commonly used in a attempt to mask the marijuana odor. Despite those precautions, the drug dog still detected marijuana, Healy noted.
Hobbs was convicted of both counts against him, first-degree criminal possession of marijuana and second-degree forgery.
Part of the prosecution’s case was Hobbs’ signature of the false name, Healy noted.
“If you don’t know what’s in there, why not sign your real name?” Healy said. “If you don’t care what’s in there, why follow?”
Hobbs is to be sentenced Nov. 15. He faces one to 51⁄2 years in prison on the marijuana conviction and 2 1⁄3 to seven years on the forgery conviction.
Hobbs was represented by attorney Michael Feit. Feit noted Wednesday that his client had been a perfect gentleman throughout the case. Feit argued at trial that there was nothing connecting Hobbs to that package, other than he happened to be there when the undercover operation returned to the house.
He also noted his client never opened the package, but simply put it down and walked away.
Feit said he believed there were appealable parts of the case, particularly with the forgery conviction, but he held out hope that some resolution might be found prior to sentencing.
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