December 20, 2013

Most Augusta drug bust suspects held on high bail

Gang ties cited in court affidavit of bust at Penley Street home that had been under investigation for a while.

By Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — The home at 1 Penley St., where 10 people were arrested Wednesday, had been watched by law enforcement authorities for some time.

Blankets and towels covered the windows, and multiple air mattresses were strewn through rooms. There was a lot of suspicious traffic in and out, according to a court affidavit by Brian Wastella, an officer with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.

That home, occupied by Peter Gleason, 32, was also the target of a drug investigation in May 2011, Wastella said. In that instance, officers found “multiple pieces of drug paraphernalia and drug residue.”

Authorities said the heroin trafficking they say took place at the house is related to gang activity, in particular the Black P. Stones, a street gang in the East Stroudsburg, Pa., area.

A number of those arrested are from that region. Police have said they are also know as the Almighty Black P. Stones.

Eight of 10 people rounded up in a drug bust there Wednesday made initial appearances Friday in Augusta District Court via video link from the Kennebec County jail.

They were arrested after Augusta police and officers from the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency executed a search warrant at the home following a report that heroin was being dealt from the house and that a handgun had been seen on one of the numerous people coming and going from the residence.

The person who made the report to Augusta police on Dec. 13 also said one of the people coming and going from the house offered to sell heroin.

Police executed the search warrant at 11 a.m. Wednesday and found almost 44 grams of heroin and five grams of methamphetamine, “digital scales, plastic baggies to include packaging materials, what appeared to be a ledger and drug paraphernalia,” according to Wastella.

Nine of the defendants face charges of aggravated trafficking in heroin, a charge which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and $50,000 in fines.

Defense attorneys Lisa Whittier and Stephen Bourget represented eight at the hearings on Friday. Whittier reserved argument on bail on most of the defendants until each had an attorney. “In the ideal world there would be individual attorneys here for them and there are not,” Whittier told the judge.

Heroin also was reportedly found in a backpack belonging to a 17-year-old girl, who is also charged. However, because she is a juvenile, she did not have a hearing on Friday.

None of the defendants directly addressed the judge about the charges and all were handled in separate hearings. Because they are prohibited from having contact with one another, each had to be brought into the jail hearing room and taken back out before another could enter.

The next hearing for most of them was set for 8:30 a.m. Feb. 11.

Gleason, a 5-foot-11, 165-pound man with blond hair and a short beard, who wore a long-sleeved orange sweatshirt under a orange jail uniform, was the first of the eight to come before the judge.

Judge Beth Dobson set his bail at $10,000 cash with a Maine Pretrial supervision contract or $25,000 worth of real estate. Whittier said Gleason has no prior criminal record and was a Maine resident.

Assistant Attorney General Katie Sibley, the prosecutor, recommended that as well.

Tyrone Wilkins, 23, of Stroudsburg, Pa., was ordered held on $50,000 cash on the aggravated trafficking charge and without bail on a charge of violating probation. Attorney Stephen Bourget entered a denial on Wilkins’ behalf to the probation violation charge. Wilkins, who was released from the Maine prison system on Dec. 13, had given 1 Penley St., as his new address.

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