One of the ancients told his peers that injustice can happen by simply doing nothing. That's what happened here as I try to figure out why a local heroin and fentanyl drug trafficker didn't get any prison time to serve when he recently pleaded guilty to a conspiracy indictment.

In Fall River Superior Court, Judge Sharon Donatelle sentenced 45-year-old Jose Sanchez of Fairhaven for purchasing and delivering heroin sold by the Ortiz heroin trafficking organization. The judge passed down 18 months in the House of Correction, but immediately suspended that sentence and placed him on three years of probation.

Am I missing a vital chunk of information about this case? Maybe they're hoping he'll flip and lead law enforcement to a bigger shark? I'm trying to be understanding here because I respect our judicial system, imperfections and all.

So we're told that not only was Sanchez already on probation at the time of his arrest, but Bristol County D.A. Thomas Quinn III said this guy was a major part of a criminal organization and a drug bust that law enforcement dubbed Operation High Stakes. Asked if Sanchez should have received jail time, Assistant D.A. Steve Butts, who prosecuted the case, said the defendant should serve at least two to four years in state prison. Mr. Butts is spot on!

I usually select an "outrage of the week" news story to talk about. Well, here it is folks. What was Judge Donatelle thinking when she decided this local case? I'm at a total loss.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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