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Published: September 05, 2008 06:37 am ShareThisPrintThis
Lawyer: Football captain paid high price for drug charge
By Julie Manganis
Staff writer

SALEM - Last fall, Christopher Al-Nabulsi was a star at Salem High School, where he was captain of the football and lacrosse teams, played basketball and was a peer mentor.
All of that ended the day after a 15-year-old schoolmate paid him $15 for a bag of marijuana. When she told school officials, they confronted him and searched his backpack, finding three more packets of marijuana on Dec. 6.
Al-Nabulsi, 18, was arrested and then expelled from school.
Yesterday, he pleaded guilty in Salem District Court to charges of possessing marijuana with intent to distribute and received a suspended 21âÑ2-year jail sentence and two years of probation, the result of a plea agreement with prosecutors, who were ready to try the case yesterday.
Should Al-Nabulsi, who had no prior record, violate any condition of his probation, including an order that he stay away from Salem High School, he could face serving the entire 21âÑ2 years.
He took the deal because prosecutor Jennifer Andrade was willing to drop two counts of drug violations in a school zone - charges that carry a two-year minimum mandatory jail term on each count, his lawyer said. And since Al-Nabulsi had confessed, a conviction was likely. He would have faced the two minimum mandatory sentences, as well as possible other time for the distribution charges.
But lawyer Patrick Regan said his client has paid an even higher price - a price the lawyer said was too high.
"The entire school community has turned their back on him," Regan said yesterday.
When Al-Nabulsi's former football coach wanted to write a letter of support for the teen, Regan said, he was told by school officials that he could not do so.
And he's lost contact with former friends and teachers.
There was no offer of assistance, such as counseling, Regan said.
"The school abandoned a 17-year-old boy," the lawyer said. "It's been devastating and will have ramifications for years to come."
Al-Nabulsi's family moved out of Salem to Beverly, where he's been unable so far to enroll at Beverly High School because of the drug charges, his lawyer and his mother said. While others his age are now starting college, he can't even finish high school, his lawyer said.
Salem High School Principal David Angeramo did not return calls yesterday afternoon seeking comment on the case and on Regan's remarks.
Andrade said school officials were willing to support the plea agreement because of the lengthy suspended sentence and condition that he stay away from the school.
He'll also be required to receive substance abuse treatment.
In a similar case last year, a 17-year-old St. John's Prep student accused of selling pot-laced brownies at school had his case continued without a finding for one year and eventually dismissed. He was expelled from the private school.
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