Class President Faces 29 Years Imprisonment
MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. (AP) _ A high school senior class president faces up to 29 years in prison, convicted of dealing drugs to an undercover policeman posing as a transfer student.
Scott Pallito, 18, hung his head after the seven-man, five-woman Superior Court jury found him guilty Thursday on eight counts of possession and distribution of cocaine, marijuana and hashish. Several of his friends in the courtroom broke down in tears.
Pallito was arrested Feb. 28 after authorities sent 24-year-old Brian Rubino to Howell Township High School posing as an orphaned transfer student. School officials supplied Rubino with a list of seven suspected drug dealers, including Pallito.
Rubino testified that he met Pallito ″by coincidence″ in the school parking lot within 10 minutes after arriving at Howell High, then made his first drug buy from Pallito the following day.
The investigator said when he approached other students about drugs, they referred him to Pallito as ″the main man″ for such sales.
Defense attorney Ronald Sage described Pallito as ″a meek kid″ who had not seen cocaine until it was thrust into his hand by Rubino in a high school bathroom.
Sage said statements by Pallito and his friends that they smoked marijuana and snorted cocaine supplied by Rubino was evidence that they were telling the truth, even if it included embarrassing details.
Sage had contended that school officials disliked Pallito because of past disciplinary problems and asked the undercover agent to ″bring us his head.″
Donald Peppler, assistant prosecutor for Monmouth County, said Pallito’s disciplinary record included unexcused tardiness, smoking on school grounds and setting off a fire alarm with a cigarette lighter.
″This wasn’t a setup, it wasn’t a frameup,″ Peppler said. ″It was a legitimate investigation conducted in Howell Township High School.″
Judge John Arnone set sentencing for Aug. 16.