Bonnie was sentenced to 15 years in prison for trafficking cocaine, even though it was her drug-dealing boyfriend who facilitated the sale that got them arrested. “I got into trouble because I was a drug user, not a drug dealer,” Bonnie explains. “I needed help.” Bonnie was released in 2012 after serving 14 years of her sentence because she had accumulated enough “earned good time” credit.
In 1995, Bonnie was living overseas with her family when her husband, an Army Special Forces officer, suffered a fatal heart attack. Depressed and suicidal, she returned to Massachusetts with her two children. She began abusing cocaine and soon started dating her dealer, who sold drugs to subsidize his own addiction.
In 1996, an undercover officer approached Bonnie’s boyfriend, asking to buy cocaine. Her boyfriend and two acquaintances arranged for the sale of a kilogram of cocaine (about 2.2 pounds). Bonnie knew about the impending drug deal but wanted no part of it. On the day of the sale, she left home on her motorcycle but was in an accident. When her parents and friends weren’t available to pick her up, she called her boyfriend. He agreed to take her home after making the sale at the acquaintances’ home.
Bonnie was in the next room when the drug deal took place. After her boyfriend sold the cocaine to the undercover officer, the police arrested everyone present. On the advice of her attorney, Bonnie rejected a three-year plea agreement and instead took her case to trial. She lost — and because Massachusetts’ rigid drug trafficking laws consider no factors except the weight of the drug involved, the judge was forced to sentence Bonnie to a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence.
While in prison, Bonnie overcame the substance addiction and grief management issues that led to her drug abuse. She took advantage of numerous educational opportunities. Yet Bonnie wasn’t eligible for parole or even for work release programs. Bonnie acknowledges that she made bad choices. But as she told FAMM, “I got into trouble because I was a drug user, not a drug dealer. I needed help.”
Bonnie was released shortly after the 2012 sentencing reforms were enacted, after serving 14 years. She had accumulated enough “earned good time” credits (even though she hadn’t previously been able to use them) to reduce her 15-year sentence to time served.
The Facts: Bonnie DiToro
Offense: Trafficking in cocaine
Court: Massachusetts state court
Prior drug offense: Possession of paraphernalia
Sentence: 15 years
Year of sentencing: 1998
Age at sentencing: 40