By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — A Northfield man arraigned Monday on charges that he sold heroin/fentanyl three times to a confidential informant working with the Tilton Police Department is being held on $50,000 cash only or $150,000 corporate surety after pleading not guilty in the Belknap County Superior Court.
Justin Gauthier, 38, of 51 Diana Drive is charged with three counts of sales of narcotics in Tilton. Gauthier also faces one count of possession of narcotics and one count of possession with intent to sell narcotics in Merrimack County.
Affidavits obtained from the court said Gauthier allegedly made three sales to the same confidential informant from July 4 to 15. In two of the three purchases, the drugs field-tested positive for fentanyl.
During a warranted search of his home, police found one ounce of heroin, two ounces of methamphetamine, prescription pills, firearms, knives and $14,000 in cash.
Police said they learned of Gauthier's alleged activities after the confidential informant code-named Buttercup was arrested for shoplifting. Affidavits indicated he/she has four prior convictions for theft and one for drug possession.
After the third sale, police obtained permission from the Belknap County Attorney's Office to listen in on Buttercup and Gauthier during the alleged transactions.
Buttercup told police that Gauthier used to live at Three Maple Cottages but that he had moved to Northfield, and while he/she didn't know the address, he/she could take them there.
After the three sales, Tilton Police obtained a warrant for Gauthier's arrest. Police from Northfield and the New Hampshire State Police assisted.
In Superior Court Monday, Gauthier's attorney, Colin Sandiford, argued initially that his client didn't want his arraignment to be filmed by WMUR news and that he didn't want his photograph taken because it would make his client appear guilty and taint the jury pool.
Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen, who didn't object to photographs or filming, said that any potential future issues with a jury could be handled by questioning at trial. She said the state Right To Know law allows media to be present and to record or photograph the proceedings.
Presiding Justice James O'Neill ruled that Gauthier had not met his burden and that the media could stay and photograph and/or record the arraignment.
At that time, Gauthier, who had been sitting with his face in his hands, uncovered his face and participated in the arraignment.
Guldbrandsen argued for $50,000 cash bail only, saying two of the three sales were of fentanyl, which she said is a very dangerous drug that even in small amounts can cause death. She said he had two convictions in his past, which were a misdemeanor drug possession from 1999 and a recent resisting-arrest charge.
Sandiford said his client has always appeared for his court dates and that a drug possession from "last century" and a resisting-arrest charge didn't mean he is a danger to the community or himself.
He said Gauthier has a job at his father's flooring shop and had worked there for 23 years. He said he is the sole support for his child and needs to be able to work.
Sandiford added that any drugs that Gauthier allegedly had in his possession had been seized, so he could not be a danger to the community.
Both sides agreed that if Gauthier was to post bail, there would be a hearing to determine a source of the money.
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