It took a Lowell District Court jury only 20 minutes today to find a Billerica man not guilty of possessing Oxycodone (a Class B drug) with the intent to distribute. Attorney Chris Spring tried the case.
The United States Drug Enforcement Agency and Billerica Police had conducted a months-long investigation into allegations that the defendant was selling large numbers of Oxycodone pills (also called Perc 30s) in and around Billerica. A confidential informant told law enforcement authorities the defendant picked up 200-300 pills (worth up to $9,000) every day in Everett from his supplier. He would then resell the pills to his customers. The police followed the defendant as he drove daily to Everett and Chelsea and then returned to Billerica. The defendant would then make what appeared to be drug deliveries in Billerica, Lowell, Tewksbury, and Wilmington.
The police also conducted six separate “controlled buys.” A controlled buy happens when someone who is cooperating with the police (usually someone who has been arrested for drug possession) buys drugs from his dealer while police officers watch. The buyer will then receive some sort of reward from the police (such as not being charged in court with possessing drugs) and the police will be able to arrest the dealer. As a result of its investigation, the police obtained warrants to search the defendant’s home and truck.
Last December, the police stopped the defendant as he was driving on Route 3 in Billerica. He had a large pill bottle in his pocket and the label had been removed. Inside the bottle were 33 Perc 30s with a street value of nearly $1,000. As one team of officers stopped the defendant on the highway, another team searched the defendant’s home. In his bedroom, the police found a digital scale used by drug dealers to weigh their product and 31 small plastic baggies used by drug dealers to package their product. The police also found strips of tin foil that appeared to have been used to smoke illegal drugs.
Two police officers testified about the items found in the defendant’s pocket and bedroom and an expert narcotics sergeant from the State Police testified that the evidence suggested the defendant was dealing drugs.
The defendant did not testify. Before the trial, Attorney Spring successfully argued that the scale should not be introduced as evidence, because this case involved pills that are not typically weighed by drug dealers (unlike, for example, cocaine or marijuana). Evidence of the controlled buys was also precluded because the Commonwealth declined to identify the confidential informant. Attorney Spring introduced the defendant’s medical records to establish he had been seriously injured in a workplace accident five months before being arrested by the police and had be prescribed Perc 30s upon his discharge. The defense theory was that the defendant was addicted to Oxycodone and the 33 pills found in his pocket were for his personal use, and not resale. Attorney Spring argued that the empty baggies found in the defendant’s bedroom were bags previously sold to the defendant that had contained drugs.
The jury found the defendant not guilty of possession with intent to distribute Oxycodone.