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Young couple charged with running marijuana growing operation in 3-car Governor's Island garage

GILFORD — Local police and agents from the New Hampshire Drug Task Force and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency converged on a Governor's Island home Thursday morning and arrested the two residents for two counts each of possession of drugs with intent to distribute.

Following their separate video appearances in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, Janelle Noftle, 24, and Corey M. LaPlante, 28, of 47 Blueberry Hill Lane were each held on $30,000 cash-only bail.

According to Asst. N.H. Attorney General James Vara, Noftle and LaPlante allegedly had about 100 marijuana plants growing in a three-bay garage that contained what he described as a fairly sophisticated growing operation.

Inside the home, Vara said police allegedly found three to five pounds of hashish and a table that was equipped to serve as production and distribution center. He said they also found $33,000 in cash.

Vara said six guns — three handguns and three long guns — were found in the home. Two of them were allegedly loaded and he said the three pistols were located near the cash.

During his request for $50,000 cash bail, Vara said what police found was "not a run of the mill" growing operation. He said there were commercial grade fans, a watering system and a separate electrical box that LaPlante allegedly told police he installed.

The two had apparently been living in the home, which is rented, since 2010. Gilford assessing records obtained on-line list the owner as a trust whose primary trustee lives in Jackson, Wyoming.

During Noftle's bail argument, Atty. John Bresaw said she was not a flight risk and Vara's request for $50,000 cash-only bail was punitive — meaning it was tantamount to a punishment rather than to ensure her future appearance in court and/or to protect the public safety.

Bresaw also argued that Noftle has no prior arrest record, that she works in a local restaurant and is a graduate of Catholic University with a 4-year degree in Health and Wellness. He said she is also a certified personal trainer.

He also argued that marijuana and its derivative hashish are on the low end of the drug spectrum as compared to methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine and although he assured the court that he wasn't trying to minimize the seriousness of the charge, his client was none-the-less not a danger to the public.

"I'm not arguing if marijuana is appropriate or not," he said, asking Judge Jim Carroll that if he feels he must set some kind of cash bail, that it should be in the $1,000 to $5,000 range.

LaPlante's lawyer, Jared Bedrick made a similar argument for his client saying that if he were to be released on personal recognizance or low cash bail, that he would be unlikely to be able to reproduce the operation he was accused of running.

Bedrick said LaPlante's parents were in the court, that he was a graduate of Laconia Christian School, and had attended college. He said LaPlante is a welder by trade.

"This court should look at what could possibly happened when he's out," Bedrick said. "He has no convictions, no arrests, no nothing."

He said LaPlante agreed to live at his parents home in Gilford where no similar kind of alleged behavior would be allowed. He also said LaPlante saw the police and immediately put his hands up.

Vara agreed that both LaPlante and Noftle cooperated with police during the arrest.

Both defense attorneys argued separately that corporate surety should be an option for posting bail but Carroll said no and stipulated that a source of any cash bail must be disclosed.

Carroll said he agreed to a certain degree with Bresaw that marijuana possession is a "political football" but that LaPlante and Noftle are accused of running a commercial operation that is illegal both federally and locally.

He also said people can look sophisticated and cultured but sometimes their appearances can be "a Trojan horse."

Affidavits supplied by the N.H. Drug Task Force said little except that there had been a "cooperating individual" who allegedly told law enforcement  during the week of October 13 about the operation. Paperwork showed that Carroll signed a search warrant on October 16 and police raided the house the next morning at 9:15 a.m.

At 4:40 p.m. on Friday, LaPlante had posted bail and Noftle remained incarcerated in the Belknap County House of Corrections.

Lt. Kris Kelley of the Gilford Police said only that the investigation is ongoing and additional charges may be forthcoming.

Last Updated on Monday, 21 October 2013 02:30

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Car stolen from Laconia dealer recovered on Bay St.

LACONIA — Police charged a Belmont man with one count of theft of an automobile for allegedly taking a car from the Irwin Automotive Group on October 15.

Samual P. Vachon, 21, is free on personal recognizance bail and is scheduled to appear in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division on December 12.

On October 16, police received a call about a suspicious vehicle that had no plates in the area of Bay and Winnisquam Streets.

Police stopped the 2001 red Chevy Cavalier and learned that it had been reported stolen by the local dealership.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 October 2013 03:10

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Man arraigned in connection with Meredith heroin death

LACONIA — A former Meredith man was arraigned in Belknap County Superior Court yesterday for allegedly selling the heroin that killed a Moultonborough man in May.

Andrew Currier, 50, now of Messer Street in Laconia, was ordered held on $2,500 cash bail by Belknap County Superior Court Judge James O'Neill, which he posted.

According to arrest warrant affidavits obtained through the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division — the court where Currier initially appeared after being charged, Currier sold "a bump" of heroin to 31-year-old Jason Dostie on May 29.

Dostie was found dead in the back of his father's truck in his father's Moultonborough driveway. Police determined he died while he was at 7 Enterprise Court in Meredith.

Toxicology results from the State Crime Lab later indicated Dostie died of a heroin overdose.

Affidavit's said Detective Cpl. John Eicchorn of the Meredith Police used text messages, interviews with Dostie's friends and co-workers to create a time line that led them to determine Dostie sent text messages to Currier beginning that morning saying he wanted to buy some heroin. Evidence collected indicates Currier allegedly dropped off a bag of heroin for Dostie by leaving it in his vehicle.

The N.H. Chief Medical Examiner's Office determined the cause of Dostie's death was "acute heroin intoxication" according to the affidavit.

Currier turned himself into police and had been free on $25,000 personal recognizance bail. He was indicted by a Belknap County Grand Jury last week.

Dostie's death is the fifth confirmed heroin death in the area this year. To date, two people have died in Laconia and two people have died in Gilford from heroin overdoses.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 October 2013 02:51

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Team of Laconia police officers focussing on curbing incidents of domestic violence

LACONIA — A team of Laconia Police officers have turned their attention to domestic violence and how to curb it by working with community partners and educating victims on the services available to them

Office Adam Batstone presented a Problem Oriented Policing (POP) team spoke to the Police Commission yesterday, telling them that this year alone 290 of the city police calls were related in some way to domestic violence. Ninty-eight of those calls resulted in criminal investigations and police made 122 arrests.

Batstone acknowledges that since "Sumaria and before that" there has been domestic violence but recently public attitudes and police responses to it have changed.

Critical to the way Laconia Police handle domestic violence is using the Lethality Assessment Protocols, which is a series of questions responding officers ask every potential victim. If police thinks a person is being abused, the officer calls a hotline for the victim who gets an opportunity to discus his or her problem.

Before the new protocols, police would hand the victim a flyer and hope they sought help on their own.

"I have never had an issue with them (the hotline) answering," Batstone said, noting that he uses the hotline almost every time he responds to a domestic violence dispute.

He told the commissioners that New Beginnings, which is a woman's shelter in Laconia, Catholic Charities, the Family Violence Prevention Council and other advocacy groups work with victims to understand the law and to educate them as to what will happen when their abuser gets arrested.

Batstone said one of the key things police try to do in the immediate aftermath of a domestic violence call that has resulted in an arrest is to encourage the victim to seek shelter somewhere else for the rest of the night.

He said some of the victims will "grab their children and go to the shelter."

"They (the alleged abuser) are released unless it's so serious they get cash bail," Batstone said, saying New Beginnings and the hotline advocates explain the difference between a bail order and a restraining order to the victim so he or she can better protect themselves.

Lt. Al Lessard said the Laconia Police Relief Family Fund has money to put a victim in a motel if there is no friends or family he or she can turn to for shelter.

Batstone also said the POP Domestic Violence team is working with New Beginnings and Catholic Charities and the Media Arts Program at the Huot Technical Center to produce a series of public service announcements for victims of domestic abuse.

Chief Chris Adams said the long-term police goal is the break the cycle of violence. He said it's not uncommon to have people who grew up in violent homes become abusers as adults.

POP Projects are conducted by the city police who set up teams of officers, supervisors, and civilians employees who study one particular police issue in a community and work to mitigate it.

Other recent examples of POP projects include under-aged drinking and the safety of Wyatt Park in the city's south end.

Members of the Domestic Violence POP are Capt. Matt Canfield, Sgt. Gary Hubbard, Sgt. Dennis Ashley, Batstone, Officer Michelle Cardinal, Officer Eric Adams, Detective Kevin Butler, Dispatcher Ken Smith, and Administrator Lori Marsh.

 

Last Updated on Friday, 18 October 2013 02:37

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