December 18, 2012

Accused Augusta heroin trafficker claims mistaken identity

Saturday's Augusta and Belgrade drug busts turn up additional facts, and questions, on suspects.

By Betty Adams
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — One suspect arrested in a large drug raid conducted last Friday by state drug enforcement agents and Augusta police was found hiding under a bed in a woman's Water Street apartment.

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James Davis

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John Wood

Additional Photos Below

He might be James Davis, 19, of Harlem, N.Y., or Belgrade.

He might also have a different first name and be only 16, in which case prosecutors will have to charge him in juvenile court. Investigators aren't sure.

Another defendant arrested in the same apartment, John A. Wood, 31, of Augusta, was convicted in 2004 of robbing the pharmacy at the Randolph IGA armed with a claw hammer.

The details of the arrests and investigation came out in Kennebec County Superior Court on Monday during initial hearings for the defendants and in affidavits filed by investigators. Police announced the arrests Saturday, saying the months-long investigation into the drug ring resulted in five arrests and the seizure of more than $23,000 worth of heroin and cocaine.

A judge on Monday asked an attorney, Lisa Whittier, to help Davis fill out paperwork requesting a court-appointed lawyer to represent him on the drug charges after Whittier said there was an identification problem.

"My understanding is that he is disputing his name," Whittier said via video link from the jail.

The prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General William Savage, who was in the courtroom, said, "I also understand he is disputing his age."

Justice Donald Marden delayed an initial hearing for Davis while his identity is confirmed.

Marden conducted Monday's hearings in Kennebec County Superior Court. Defendants appeared via video link from the Kennebec County jail.

The man who initially identified himself as Davis is charged with aggravated trafficking in heroin in a school zone and unlawful trafficking in heroin.

An affidavit filed in court by Officer Brian Wastella of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency says Davis was at the Belgrade Lakes home of Amber Swift, 27, when a confidential informant arranged by text message to buy a bundle -- 10 bags -- of heroin for $275 on Sept. 27. The transaction was monitored by drug enforcement agents and recorded, Wastella said.

Swift was arrested Friday on charges of unlawful trafficking in heroin and later released on unsecured bail.

A second transaction, also monitored and recorded, allegedly took place between Davis and the informant on Nov. 7 at the Water Street, Augusta, apartment of Beverly Norton, Wastella said.

Davis was arrested at Norton's apartment on Friday after police conducting a warrant search found him hiding under a bed in the rear bedroom of Norton's apartment. His bail was initially set at $25,000.

Wastella noted that the confidential informant is charged with possession of heroin, possession of a schedule W drug and possession of schedule Z drug.

Wood's address is the same as that of Norton, and Wastella said Wood was located inside the bathroom after apparently failing to flush a bundle of heroin down the toilet.

Wood was sentenced in December 2004 to 10 years in prison, with all but three years suspended, and four years of probation for the Sept. 14, 2004, robbery.

On the drug charge, Wood's bail was set at $5,000 cash or $5,000 unsecured with a Maine Pretrial Services contract.

Norton, 56, told investigators she had an opiate addiction and allowed "Chicken, Twin, and West/Snaxx to deal illegal drugs out of her apartment for the past several months," Wastella wrote in an affidavit. "I know those individuals' given names to be James Davis, Terrell Washington and Ricquell Lindo."

Another buy allegedly took place Nov. 4, again at Norton's apartment, which is across from Penney Memorial United Baptist Church, a designated school zone, which elevates the charges.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Terrell Washington

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Beverly Norton


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