Dorchester man gets 5 1/2 years in federal prison for drug, gun offenses

A federal judge this week sentenced Omari Peterson, 39, to 66 months in federal prison following his guilty plea to one count of possession of cocaine and crack with intent to distribute and and two counts of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.

US District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock's sentence came on the recommendation of Peterson's attorney, who pointed to his "demonstrated remorse and his extraordinary rehabilitation." Prosecutors had urged a sentence of 7 years, arguing he lost any chance at a break when he was arrested on the drug and gun charges while on probation for a drug conviction.

Boston and Randolph police and FBI agents arrested Peterson in March, 2021 in Randolph after he sold cocaine and crack on four separate occasions to a "cooperating witness" working with the FBI. Police found two loaded guns in Peterson's apartment on Brunswick Street in Dorchester and then six more guns in a storage unit in Quincy.

Peterson pleaded guilty in January.

In a sentencing memorandum to Woodlock, Peterson's attorney, Mark Shea of Cambridge, acknowledged the seriousness of the charges in recommending a 5 1/2-year sentence. He said Peterson has made great strides since leaving a broken home where both parents beat him:

"Mr. Peterson has already taken very significant steps towards rehabilitation. He was lucky to have participated in the initial Restorative Justice ('RJ') Program for people who were incarcerated, and he found it life-changing. His eyes have been opened, and he understands he cannot minimize his role in what he has done that has hurt real people. He attend two RJ sessions: one last December that was for three days, eight hours per day; and a second in April of this year that ran for six weeks and met for two and one-half hours each Wednesday. He is hopeful that there will be a third session where he can meet with people who have suffered from addictions and hopefully make amends.

Prosecutors, though, said Peterson's criminal life, which they said included involvement with the St. Joseph Street gang in Dorchester, shows little inclination towards reform:

"An 84-month sentence in this matter would communicate a clear message to the defendant, that society has laws that he simply must follow. The defendant, OMARI PETERSON, obviously did not get this message from his previous New Hampshire sentence imposed in 2018, nor did he get it from his history of repeated probation violations, in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and eventual re-incarcerations. The defendant has shown that he is not merely a drug dealer. He is not merely an individual with eight different firearms at his disposal. He is not merely willingly disregarding the terms of his probation. He is not merely a gang member. Instead, the defendant is each and every one of these things."


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